RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters has essentially called the coach’s challenge a crapshoot. Peters and his team got the bad end of it Friday.
A surprisingly low-scoring affair saw just one goal scored through two periods, and Carolina’s tying goal by Jeff Skinner early in the final frame was wiped away for offsides in an eventual 3-0 New York Islanders’ win in front of 15,448 at PNC Arena.
Four minutes into the third period, the Hurricanes tied the game when Jeff Skinner got his 200th NHL goal. But Islanders coach Doug Weight — at the risk of being charged with a penalty — challenged, and the referees ruled Skinner was offside on the zone entry due to his skate being off the ice, erasing the equalizer.
“Before it ever went in, I was told it was offside on the entry, so I wasn’t surprised,” Peters said. “Disappointed, obviously. But we knew — I was told it was offside when the play happened.”
While the Hurricanes admitted the right call was made, that didn’t ease the pain of losing a second straight game to a Metropolitan Division opponent.
“At the same time, if it went our way I wouldn’t complain,” Skinner said of the call. “That’s just the way it is, I think. I tried to sort of slow up as best I could and I should’ve probably dragged my foot. But, yeah, it was close. I haven’t seen it fully, but obviously it was pretty close.”
The Islanders added an insurance goal 12 minutes into the third and then an empty-netter, and Carolina couldn’t get any of its 45 shots past New York goalie Thomas Greiss.
That doesn’t mean Carolina didn’t have chances. Brett Pesce hit the post early in the game, and Greiss — despite following up Jaroslav Halak’s 50-save shutout Thursday with one of his own Friday — was giving up rebounds that the Hurricanes were unable to corral.
“Sometimes it’s just a bounce here or there, or it bounces off their pads and drops on your stick, or it bounces and it’s a foot away. That’s the difference,” Skinner said.
In a game with playoff position implications, the Hurricanes and Islanders played it like a postseason grudge match.
There were heavy hits from both sides, the most jarring coming when Carolina forward Brock McGinn leveled New York rookie phenom Matthew Barzal with an open-ice hit. The Hurricanes got two power play opportunities to New York’s zero, but the whistles, for the most past, were in postseason form.
“It’s desperation, it’s playoff hockey,” Peters said. “They let you play. There’s more stickwork involved, more little hook and hold, and the standard’s a little different. … You got to pay a price to score and you gotta think that every time you go to the net that that rebound’s going to be there. Because the one time you don’t go hard with conviction, that’s when it’s laying there and you’re boxed out.”
The deadlock was broken just after the game’s midway point when Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s long-distance point shot beat Cam Ward (20 saves) to give New York a 1-0 lead at 10:06 of the second.
Carolina had outshot New York 28-15 through two, but the Isles led on the scoreboard. A 17-7 edge in shots in the third yielded the same result.
“We couldn’t get one,” Peters said. “We couldn’t buy one here tonight.”
With eight minutes left in the third period, a point-to-point pass from Carolina defenseman Noah Hanifin was in Justin Faulk’s feet and the Carolina co-captain couldn’t handle it. Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier grabbed the puck and got a step on Hanifin, finishing off his breakaway to make it 2-0.
The Hurricanes pushed, with New York icing the puck countless times in the game’s final five minutes to try and survive the onslaught. But Greiss, who came into the game with a goals-against average over four and an .885 save percentage, closed it out for his first shutout of the season.
Islanders captain John Tavares was awarded an empty net goal, his 30th of the season, when Teuvo Teravainen tripped him when he was in the clear on Carolina’s unmanned net. The win pushed Tavares and the Isles one point past the Hurricanes for the second wild card spot.
Columbus, an overtime loser at home against Philadelphia, holds a game in hand on the Hurricanes and the teams are tied with 63 points. New Jersey, in Tampa tomorrow before coming to Raleigh for a rematch of Thursday’s 5-2 Devils win in Newark on Sunday, has 66 points.
“They’re all big games now, I think,” Skinner said. “Obviously, there’s a little bit added sort of importance when you’re trying to take two points from someone your sort of in the mix with, but you need to pick up points as much as you can. … We’ll be ready.”
Notes: Seventeen of Carolina’s 18 skaters registered a shot on goal. Trevor van Riemsdyk was the only player not credited with one. … Shot attempts favored Carolina 92-42. … The Hurricanes won 37 of 58 faceoffs and only Carolina’s Sebastian Aho (0-1) finished without winning record on draws.