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Islanders eliminated from playoffs after lack of scoring

Failure to respond to Hurricanes, decline in 5-on-5 production help lead to ouster

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The New York Islanders season ended when they were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 5-2 loss in Game 4 at PNC Arena on Friday.

It was the second time in their history the Islanders were swept in a best-of-7 series; they lost four straight against the New York Rangers in a 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

 

[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

"It obviously stings right now," Islanders center Mathew Barzal said. "Great group of guys in here. It really felt like things were lining up for us pretty well. I definitely felt we had the group to do it in here, go all the way."

Here are 5 reasons the Islanders were eliminated:

 

1. Lack of response

Unlike the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders were unable to counter when the Hurricanes scored. Carolina refused to allow New York any momentum, including in Game 4, when Sebastian Aho quickly erased the Islanders' early lead by scoring 2:14 after Barzal's power-play goal.

"In this series, anytime we got momentum, they got it right back," New York coach Barry Trotz said. "It was almost like a flip-flop of our first series. They did a really good job."

 

2. No breaks or bounces

The Islanders had two goals taken away over the first two games in New York; forward Anders Lee was penalized for goalie interference in Game 1 that negated what would have been a goal for Barzal, and defenseman Devon Toews kicked the puck past Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney in Game 2 that would have given the Islanders a 2-0 lead.

Carolina got the bounces it needed, starting with Jordan Staal's overtime goal in Game 1 that landed right on his stick after a shot went off the end boards.

"It almost felt like we were Pittsburgh in this series; just couldn't get a two-goal lead, couldn't get a bounce," Barzal said.

Video: Hurricanes advance to ECF with sweep of Islanders

 

3. Even-strength play

The Islanders were one of the better teams 5-on-5 this season, but they generated little against the Hurricanes. New York scored two goals at even strength, none until Josh Bailey's wrist shot against McElhinney at 14:13 of the second period of Game 3. The other came from Brock Nelson with 1:09 remaining in Game 4.

"You think about [how] we've had success all year, it's being able to shut down other teams. Counter, frustrate them, all that," Trotz said. "They did a lot of that to us. When you're pressing, we usually counter and they did that against us. We were chasing the whole series."

 

4. Eberle goes cold

Jordan Eberle wasn't the only Islanders forward who didn't score in this series, but it stands out after the stellar first-round series Eberle had against the Penguins when he scored in each of the four games. The closest Eberle came to scoring was in Game 2, when he hit the goal post midway through the third period.

"They're a good defensive team, you've got to give them credit," Eberle said. "They play very similar to us. We've been on the other side of it where we've frustrated teams too."

 

5. Fourth line held in check

Throughout the season, Trotz often referred to his fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck as the Islanders' "identity line" given their ability to set the tone with their physical play and providing energy. But the Hurricanes were able to counter, particularly at home, when Jordan Martinook returned from an upper-body injury for Game 3. Clutterbuck, who sustained an undisclosed injury in Game 2, skated in warmups Friday but was unable to play.

"[Clutterbuck] got hurt earlier in the series, and he played through it all and played well," Trotz said. "He just couldn't go [in Game 4]. He was being honest to his teammates and to himself."

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