Van Riemsdyk lifts Hurricanes past Islanders, 4-3
- Blue Jackets D Jones leaves with injury
- Defending champion Caps seeking repeat
- Knights hope to build on unlikely debut
- Pens hope long summer equals fast start
- Talented Lightning embracing lofty goals
By ALLAN KREDA
NEW YORK (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes simply outplayed the New York Islanders in a matchup of teams headed for a spring without playoff games.
Van Riemsdyk's second goal of the season came on a long slap shot with 6:49 remaining to help snap Carolina's three-game losing streak and continue the late season swoon by the Islanders, who have just one win their last 12 games.
"Our group has mental toughness," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "We were real good 5-on-5. It was a good team win."
Rask's goal with just under six minutes remaining in the middle period gave Carolina a 3-2 lead heading, before Lee tied it on the power play at 8:05 of the third with his second of the game and career-high 35th of the season.
Lee took little solace in his personal achievement as his team faces another spring without the postseason.
The Islanders are 1-7-4 in their last 12 games. They will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the second straight year after appearing three times in four years.
"It's painful because we work extremely hard and we don't have much to show for it," Lee said. "That's why this is so frustrating."
The free-falling Islanders came out with virtually no energy and the Hurricanes notched two quick goals. Slavin opened the scoring at 2:50 when his shot from the point found its way through traffic and past Halak.
Stempniak, playing in his 900th NHL game, made it 2-0 at 4:44 with an unassisted goal from the high slot, his third of the season.
Bailey narrowed the deficit to 2-1 at 10:49 of the second, tipping a shot by defenseman Ryan Pulock past Darling. It was Bailey's 18th goal this season.
Lee tied the score at 2, knocking in a rebound on the power play at 12:22 of the second. Tavares and rookie Mathew Barzal assisted. Barzal, who leads all rookies with 73 points, has 54 assists.
Carolina outshot the Islanders 13-6 in the first period and 17-11 in the second before a quiet late-afternoon crowd of 10,688 at Barclays Center. The Islanders are last in the league in average attendance with just over 12,000 fans per game.
The Islanders announced in late January they would split games between their former home - Nassau Coliseum - and Brooklyn for the next three seasons before moving into a yet-to-built arena at Belmont Park in 2021.
But they have struggled at home this calendar year, going 4-11-1 over their last 16 games at Barclays Center after as 12-3-3 start on home ice.
Despite his team's poor results, Islanders coach Doug Weight continued to look for positives as his first full season as coach winds down.
"We fought to tie the game but they got the fourth one and we couldn't tie it," he said. "They came out hard but we had some good opportunities. We battled back."
The Hurricanes have also slumped in recent weeks to again fall from the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. Carolina hasn't reached the postseason since 2009. They came into Sunday's contest 3-9-2 over their previous 14 games.
The Islanders were coming off back-to-back losses in a home-and-home set with Washington. They started the game with Tavares unusually on left wing with Barzal at center and Jordan Eberle on right wing.
But following Carolina's two quick strikes, Tavares were reunited with his wingers Lee and Bailey. Tavares' status is one of many clouds hanging over the Islanders since the 27-year-old captain could become an unrestricted free agent this July and could leave the franchise with no return.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched D Dennis Seidenberg and D Brandon Davidson, along with F Ross Johnston. ... Carolina scratched D Noah Hanifin because of an upper body injury. ... Carolina improved to 8-3-3 in their last 14 games against Islanders and the Hurricanes are 24-9-7 since the start of the 2008-09 season against New York. ... Lee's tying goal in the third came about 40 seconds after Carolina forward Sebastian Aho was whistled for hooking Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho.
Islanders: Host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.
Updated March 18, 2018