Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders

Islanders facing ‘must-win’ situation already


The New York Islanders gave up a 3-2 second period lead in what was eventually a 6-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Monday.

That marks five straight losses to begin the month of February for the Islanders. In a shortened 48-game schedule, five straight losses, even if early in the season, can prove costly.

“It feels weird to say the next game’s a must-win,” Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic told Long Island Newsday.

“We’ve got to look at it that way. We have to make sure we stop this.”

The Islanders’ losing skid followed up on wins over the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins – the number one and five teams, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.

If there was one positive for the Islanders, it was the four power play goals they tallied.

“We’re the type of team that needs all 20 guys going, and we didn’t have that tonight…I thought some guys were soft,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano told

“We’ve got to find a way 5-on-5 to generate some offense. Our power play was good, but it’s not going to be there every day.”

Jiri Tlusty tallied four points – all coming in the third period – for Carolina. He tied the game at three goals apiece and added the insurance marker into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining.

“We find a way to (get) the points, which is a big key for our team and we have to keep it rolling,” Tlusty told the Raleigh-based News and Observer.

“Our third period has been really strong. We came out really hard tonight (in the third) and wore the D down. That was the plan.”

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen