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Rapid Reaction: Islanders Rocked by Hurricanes in Season Opening Loss



New York Islanders lose to Hurricanes

The New York Islanders dropped their season opener on Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3. New York is now 0-1-0 on the season and 2-4-0 in their last six season openers.

How it Happened: The New York Islanders kicked off the scoring early in the first period on a goal that had to be reviewed. Kyle Palmieri set up Mathew Barzal in front of the net for a shot that was initially ruled a save, but minutes later the officials reviewed the play and ruled it a goal noticing that the puck had just crossed the line at the 7:23 mark of the first. The lead was short-lived as a turnover by the Islanders in their own end led to a goal by Andrei Svechnikov to tie the game at one just under two minutes later.

Carolina took their first lead of the night a few minutes later at 13:57 of the first. They won an offensive draw and a shot from Jacob Slavin deflected off Jesper Fast to give them a 2-1 lead. The Islanders countered with a goal 52 seconds into the Second period off a give-and-go play by Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson.

Nelson stayed with the puck after his attempt to stuff it by Frederik Andersen was denied and then put back his own rebound. However, the tie wouldn’t last too long and Carolina would again take advantage the Islanders’ slappy play in their own end to regain the lead.

Former Islander Nino Niederreiter gave Carolina a 4-2 lead at 11:28 of the second after blowing by Zdeno Chara and putting the past Ilya Sorokin as Chara knocked him into the net. Video review confirmed it was a good goal. Anders Lee did get the Islanders back within one off a strong effort to get to a loose puck in the slot and put it past Andersen.

Teuvo Teravainen sealed the win with a power-play goal with 8:24 left in the game to make it 5-3 and Svechnikov scored his second of the night off an empty-net goal to round out the scoring.

The Power Play Still Struggles: It’s been a storyline for the past few years and on Thursday night the New York Islanders power play left plenty to be desired. The special teams unit went 0-for-3 on the night and looked out of sync when they were on the ice.

The Islanders looked sloppy on the man-advantage and never found a way to generate any momentum when they had the chances. Their third power play of the night was negated 58 seconds in after Lee was called for a cross-checking penalty.

Communication Breakdown: The New York Islanders looked out of sorts among their bottom-six forward group in the first game of the season. There was some understanding for the third line’s slow start to the game. Zach Parise, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom only had a limited amount of time to get accustomed to one another during the preseason. The trio wasn’t bad in their first regular-season outing, but the fourth line looked out of sync for most of the 5-3 loss.

The identity line didn’t appear to pack the same punch it has become accustomed to with Matt Martin playing alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Martin is still working his way back from offseason surgery.

Poorly Timed Penalty: That’s not to say there is a good time to take a penalty, but late in the game with your team down by one is not the optimal time to find yourself in the penalty box. But that’s what happened to Oliver Wahlstrom late in the third period with the New York Islanders trailing 4-3. Wahlstrom was booked for holding Slavin and Teravainen scored on the ensuing power play.

Wahlstrom is still learning, even after playing most of last season in the NHL, but the penalty surely won’t sit well with head coach Barry Trotz.

“We’ll have a little bit of a conversation tomorrow,” Trotz said. “In the moment I don’t need to go there. I think he knows. He was around through our playoff run last year. He’s been well versed in good decisions, bad decisions.”

The Top Line Led the Way: It’s exactly what you wanted to see from the Islanders’ top line in the first game of the year. Kyle Palmieri, Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal generated scoring chances, pressured Andersen and the Carolina defense and showed off some of their playmaking ability. That was on display on New York’s first goal when Palmieri fed Barzal the puck right on the doorstep from the side of the net.

The grittiness was there too when Lee battled to get to a loose puck to pull the Islanders back within one. In a game where New York looked slow and disconnected at times, the top line did live up to what needed to be done.

“It was obviously nice to get a few tonight,” Barzal said. “Early in a season, you want to start feeling good about your game. I thought our line tonight was pretty good. This is one of the toughest games of the year coming into Carolina. … Overall it was a decent game by us, but in terms of our line, yeah, there’s some good stuff there.”

Up Next: The Islanders 13 game road trip rolls on. The Travel to Florida to face the Panthers on Saturday at 6 p.m.