The third period of Game 6 on Friday night at UBS Arena should have been the ideal time for what’s come to be known as Islanders hockey. A club with a sturdy reputation was just 20 minutes away from sending its series with the Hurricanes to a decisive seventh game in Raleigh, leading 1-0 after two periods.
Instead, the Hurricanes skated all over them. They outshot the Islanders 19-5, enjoyed an 11-1 advantage in high-danger scoring chances, and tied the game at 1-1 on Sebastian Aho’s goal midway through. Paul Stastny’s overtime goal six minutes into overtime ended the Islanders’ season.
They had lost a winnable series, blowing leads in both Game 2 and Game 6 that will haunt them for the entire off-season.
And they might have lost their best chance of an extended playoff run with this core of players.
“One-goal leads in the playoffs are just not safe,” Mathew Barzal said in a dead-quiet locker room, repeating a mantra the Islanders learned in the first round to their chagrin.