Isles Fall In OT, Still Manage To Earn Playoff Glory

 

The New York Islanders season-ending five game road trip continued last night in Raleigh as the team fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the shootout.

The importance of the loss being in the shootout was that, in conjunction with the Winnipeg Jets regulation loss, the Isles earned their first playoff appearance since 2007. Had the Islanders lost in regulation, there would have been no clinch.

In essence, the Isles played just well enough.

The Canes carried play most of the game but the Islanders had some luck along with timely goals to earn a point.

The Canes got on the board first, not even one minute into the game, as Alexander Semin got on the board. Semin, off a give and go with Jordan Staal, got around Thomas Hickey and flipped the puck off of Lubomir Visnovsky and past Isles netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

The Isles got it back just a few minutes later. Matt Moulson passed the puck to Mark Streit at the point who took a pass that looked like a shot to Brad Boyes. The puck went off of Boyes' skate and in.

Later in the period, the Canes struck again. Jay Harrison hustled to keep the puck in the zone and flipped it on net. Jordan Staal tipped the puck out of the air and by Nabokov to conclude the first period scoring.

Josh Bailey tied it up seven and a half minutes into the second. Kyle Okposo dug the puck out from the boards by the blue line and stick handled his way to a shooting position in the high slot. His shot was stopped by Canes goalie Dan Ellis but Bailey snagged the rebound and put it top shelf for his 11th of the season.

The Hurricanes regained the lead late in the period as Tuomo Ruutu bounced off Andrew MacDonald and took possession of the puck in the corner. His centering feed went off of Jordan Staal and found Patrick Dwyer who made no mistake.

In the third, the Islanders took a lot of chances trying to tie the game up and consequently, Carolina had many opportunities to put the game away; most notably when Nabokov mishandled the puck behind that net and Ruutu had a completely empty net but rung his shot off the far post.

Eventually, it was John Tavares to the rescue.

Moulson fired a cross ice pass to Tavares who quickly passed the puck to Okposo. The pass didn't reach Okposo however, as it went off of Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk's skate and by a surprised Dan Ellis with only 67 seconds left.

That was key as it earned the Isles a point.

The game reached the shootout and Carolina got the only tallies in that skills competition to garner the victory.

Now New York needs to solidify its hold on the 6th spot n the Eastern Conference. The next step in that process is in Philadelphia on Thursday as they take on the Flyers. The Islanders then wrap up the season Friday night in Buffalo.

-Donovan Brooks

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