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The New York Islanders find themselves on the verge of playoff elimination, after a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 this afternoon.
The Islanders came out with a really good first few minutes, taking the play to Carolina off the bat. However, two early penalties put them down on a 5-on-3 and the Hurricanes took advantage, with Seth Jarvis burying a loose puck off a scramble in front to put Carolina ahead. Then while the Islanders did have power play chances of their own soon after, they couldn’t make anything happen, and went to intermission down one.
The Hurricanes then once again capitalized on an early power play in the second frame, with Stefan Noesen sliding the puck over to Martin Necas, who beat an outstretched Sorokin to extend the lead. Then later on in what was a fairly slow period to that point, Alexander Romanov completely whiffed on a dump-in, sending Carolina back the other way on a 2-on-1, and Sebastian Aho beat Ilya Sorokin to make it a 3-0 game.
Seth Jarvis then basically put the game out of reach only a little over a minute into the third period, going down on a breakaway to score. While the Islanders did get on the board off a goal from Adam Pelech soon after and started to actually build a bit of momentum for the first time, they were shut down by Antti Raanta on a few good chances. Mackenzie MacEachern ended up making it a 5-1 game later and while Bo Horvat got one back late on a breakaway, the Islanders fell 5-2.
So now, things don’t look good. It’s a disappointing outcome for the Islanders coming off a big win, and really, back-to-back games where they played well.
But after the first goal they allowed, the early momentum sank and the Islanders never really got going. They built some pressure after the Pelech goal with a stretch of a few minutes where they had some good chances, but it didn’t feel like there was much urgency throughout the game.
The Islanders did lose the goaltending battle, with Antti Raanta playing great for Carolina. But New York just gave up way too many high-end rush chances – almost every goal against came on a power play, breakaway or odd-man rush.
The Islanders just also aren't getting anything at all from most of their top forwards. Each member of the top line has a single point this series, with Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Bo Horvat each at one goal. For a team with few top forwards, it's going to be hard to win when most of those players aren't contributing.
It’s generally been a pretty even matchup throughout the series, but it’s tough to envision the Islanders coming back from down 3-1. Possible for sure, but these have been close games for the most part and this seemed like a bit of a make or break.
But it’s not over – certainly an uphill battle now, but you never know.
Game 5 is set for Tuesday in Carolina.
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