RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Islanders had the finish line in sight Monday. It loomed tantalizingly in the distance.

Block one more shot, take one more hit to make a play, win one more battle like they had all night, and escape a decidedly hostile environment with a precious accomplishment, a split of the first two games of a Stanley Cup Playoff series on the road.

Instead, they faltered at the worst possible time, turning a three-goal lead into a 5-3 loss in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

“We can’t just hold on, play in our end for two periods,” Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson said. “We have to have a pushback. Obviously, we weren’t good enough tonight. We’ll learn from it and get better.”

The Islanders simply ran out of gas, spending themselves playing defense for the final 40 minutes. They were outshot 29-5 in the final two periods. They were outattempted 110-28 for the game.

The toll came home to roost in an unforgettable third period when the Hurricanes fashioned their third three-goal comeback win in franchise postseason history. The others were Game 4 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Semifinals (4-3 in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens) and Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final (5-4 against the Edmonton Oilers).

The comeback started in earnest when Seth Jarvis lasered a shot past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov (34 saves) to cut it to 3-2 with 9:17 remaining in the third period.

NYI@CAR R1, Gm2: Aho, Martinook score 9 seconds apart for the lead

Then, it all fell apart in stunning fashion, as it has so many times this season for the Islanders, who allowed 196 goals combined in the second and third periods during the regular season, a total topped by five teams, each of whom missed the playoffs.

“You are up one late and you would like to close it out,” New York forward Brock Nelson said. “We were in a pretty great spot and then a shot and they tied it and then bang-bang. It’s hard to even react.”

Sebastian Aho redirected a slap pass from Andrei Svechnikov at 17:45 to tie it.

The reeling Islanders now had to survive 2:15 to get to the dressing room and regroup for overtime.

They lasted nine seconds.

Islanders coach Patrick Roy said he thought about stopping the bleeding and calling a timeout. But he had his best 200-foot forward (Jean-Gabriel Pageau) and his best two defensemen (Dobson and Alexander Romanov) on the ice.

He rolled the dice. They came up snake eyes.

“I felt like we would be OK,” Roy said. “Unfortunately, they scored. I don’t know exactly what happened, I need to resee it.”

Here’s what happened.

The Hurricanes won the face-off and dumped the puck in. Dobson raced back to get it. He was met violently by Carolina forward Jordan Martinook, who claimed the puck, changed directions and put the puck in off Varlamov’s skate on the short side while the goalie looked the other way.

“I mean, emotions are high this time of year,” Nelson said. “You know there are going to be swings. Any point, any game, all year, we always talk about the next shift and turn the momentum back. They’re able to get a puck on the forecheck and get one. Yeah, just 30 seconds, not even, that you would like to have back.”

R1, Gm2: Islanders @ Hurricanes Recap

The Hurricanes scored the fastest two goals in their playoff history and the fastest by any team since the Pittsburgh Penguins scored two in five seconds in Game 3 of the 2018 first round against the Philadelphia Flyers. Seven teams in NHL history have scored a game-tying and go-ahead goal in the final three minutes of a playoff game.

Now things look bleak for the Islanders, who lost to the Hurricanes in six games in the first round last season.

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 series advance 86 percent of the time (348 of 393). The Hurricanes have won eight of the 10 series they have led 2-0.

“Well, it's a tough loss, no doubt about it, because we had a chance to win that game,” Roy said.

The Islanders took a 3-0 lead early in the second and then allowed five consecutive goals in the final 27 minutes.

They have to win four of five games, including one at PNC Arena, to take this series and advance. That climb starts Thursday in Game 3 at UBS Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; MSGSN, BSSO, ESPN2, SN360, TVAS).

“We'll take the two days, use them to our advantage,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “Get home, get in front of our fans. Let them give us some more juice. And this thing's long from over, but just right now, this one hurts the gut.”

It hurts everywhere.

The Islanders left it all on the ice Monday. They blocked 39 shots, they stayed pinned in their end for long periods, unable to break the pressure that is the hallmark of Carolina's game. They couldn’t put the pressure on the Hurricanes.

They were surviving, not thriving.

It all changed when Varlamov took a tripping penalty trying to clear his crease. Suddenly the Hurricanes had life, and Teuvo Teravainen gave them a jolt with a power-play goal that made it 3-1 at 13:01 of the second. They dominated the rest of the period but couldn’t put another dent in the Islanders.

“I felt like when we took those penalties, that gave them the momentum and the game shifted big time and for some reason, I mean, we started losing those 1-on-1 battles,” Roy said. “And we didn't do a very good job along the wall to get those pucks out. And they took advantage of it.”

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