The Islanders fall to the Hurricanes and miss out on a chance to squeeze into a playoff spot

RALEIGH, NC — Maybe don’t reserve your playoff tickets just yet.

The Islanders still have the first wild card spot.

They still should.

Chances are still in their favor.

But on a weekend when winning a game would have made them a virtual lockout, the Islanders not only dropped both, they outplayed them twice.

That Sunday’s edition came against a potential first-round opponent in Carolina, as the Hurricanes edged the Isles 2-1 thanks to the brilliance of goaltender Ilya Sorokin (33 saves).

It’s not just that the Islanders have lost two in a row, though. That’s how they lost.

In some ways, it was worse than their 5-0 loss to the Lightning the night before. At least in that, the Islanders beat Tampa.

Pierre Engvall skates with the puck in the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes.NHLI via Getty Images

In this one, the PNC Arena ice was tilted from the puck drop.

The Islanders mismanaged time and time again in their own zone, giving Carolina high-danger chances and, not for the first time this season, having no answer for the Hurricanes’ high-intensity control.

Most disappointingly, in Game 78 of ’82, the Islanders didn’t seem to know where their teammates were, resulting in constant misplaced passes, especially in the defensive zone.

Although Carolina doubled up the Islanders in the first 40 minutes, the game was tied in the third thanks to the play of Sorokin.

It took less than three minutes of the final period for Carolina to make the Islanders pay.

Jordan Martinook’s wrist shot beat Sorokin at two, leaving the Islanders with 17:29 to regain their offensive momentum and tie the game.

Even with their second power play of the game, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho went for a crossover with 4:36 left in the game, the Islanders were unable to capitalize.

Bo Horvat got just one shot on net in a two-minute span that Frederik Andersen successfully fought off.

Carolina Hurricanes right winger Jesse Puljujarvi goes for the rebound against Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin.Carolina Hurricanes right winger Jesse Puljujarvi goes for the rebound against Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin.USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Sorokin was the only thing standing between the Islanders and an explosion.

It’s no secret that he will be the biggest factor in the Islanders winning or competing in any playoff series.

That won’t change with four games left in the season.

But he needs more help than he got this weekend.

Otherwise, it will be a quick exit for the Islanders in the playoffs if they make it that far.

The Islanders’ only moment of hope came when they managed to take the lead late in the first period when Pierre Engvall found Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 17:33 of the period.

Carolina would get it back on a rare mistake by Sorokin when Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s shot went in past the keeper at 9:27 of the second.

Despite the unusual error, it was not a night where the goalkeeper could be reasonably blamed.

23 hours after his second start in Tampa, Sorokin was once again hung out to dry.

Stefan Noesen attempts a between-the-leg shot in the third period against the New York Islanders.Stefan Noesen attempts a between-the-leg shot in the third period against the New York Islanders.NHLI via Getty Images

To reach the playoffs, the Islanders need to score – they have scored just three times in the last three games.

More than that, they need to generate sustained momentum on offense, a seemingly impossible task when the power play is a black hole, with just five goals since Mathew Barzal got hurt and looks to be out of his zone. as hard as on sunday.

Not to mention standings, are non-negotiable attributes of winning hockey.

The playoff odds are good because the Islanders have won their way there.

They can just as easily burn opportunities, and if the Panthers beat Buffalo on Tuesday, they’ll move into a tie for the first wild card in points.

Of the three teams with a serious chance of taking the two wild card spots, the Islanders remain in the best position. That’s reason enough not to hit the panic button just yet.

But if the Islanders keep playing like this, that time will come sooner than anyone wants.

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