The New York Islanders salvaged a point and a share of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night.
But the Islanders know they need to begin doing a lot more than just collecting one point – preferably much sooner than later.
The Islanders will look to snap out of a lengthy slump Saturday night, when they play host the Carolina Hurricanes in a battle of Metropolitan Division rivals at Elmont, N.Y.
Both teams were off Friday after playing Thursday, with the visiting Islanders squandering another early lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. For the host Hurricanes, they scored five unanswered goals bridging the second and third period in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
The loss was the eighth in 10 games (2-5-3) this month for the Islanders, who missed a chance to move ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into sole possession of the second wild-card spot. Both teams entered play Friday with 51 points. The Penguins will have two games in hand on New York after hosting the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
The Islanders continued with a lack of consistency on offense Thursday, when they were outshot 45-26 and scored two goals or fewer for the eighth time in January. New York has scored first in each of its last five games but has won just once (1-2-2).
“Have we gotten the results we’ve wanted? No,” Islanders left wing Matt Martin said. “Are we as far back in the standings as we could possibly be? No, either. We’re still very much in the mix. But we’ve definitely got to get going here and start stringing wins together.”
The Metropolitan-leading Hurricanes have responded to a rare skid with a four-game points streak, although Thursday’s victory was a costly one after left wing Max Pacioretty tore his right Achilles tendon for a second time and is out indefinitely.
Carolina is 3-0-1 since Jan. 12 after going 0-3-1 and losing by multiple goals in regulation three times from Jan. 3-10. It was second-longest losing streak of the season after a five-game drought (0-4-1) from Nov. 17-25.
The Hurricanes fell behind in regulation for the first time in their current run Thursday night, when Kirill Kaprizov scored at 7:11 of the second period for a 1-0 Minnesota lead. But Brent Burns scored just 1:56 later for Carolina, which scored four goals over the next 13-plus minutes of game time.
The win was dampened in the final minute, when Pacioretty came away with his noncontact injury to his right leg.
Pacioretty, who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 13, missed the first 38 games of the season recovering from surgery to repair his first torn right Achilles tendon. He returned Thursday after a two-game absence due to a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve Friday afternoon.
“It doesn’t look good, but we don’t know,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday, with his fears confirmed after more tests were performed Friday.
–Field Level Media