There were multiple reasons to be upset with the referees in the NY Islanders 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon at UBS Arena, but there were the same, if not more, reasons to be upset with the undisciplined penalties Lane Lambert's veteran and playoff experienced team took that cost them the ability to sustain momentum in Game 4.
The Islanders jumped out to a great start in the opening minutes, but momentum was slowed by a questionable goalie interference call on Zach Parise, where it appeared that while he was in the crease, he was pushed into Carolina goaltender Antti Raanta. That put the Canes on the power play, which became a two-man advantage when Ryan Pulock was called for boarding on Jack Drury on a play that was originally ruled a major penalty. Drury left the ice and did not return.
"The 5-on-3 that they had shifted the game a little bit," Head Coach Lane Lambert said in the postgame. "The Parise penalty, I thought he got pushed in. [Jalen] Chatfield pushed him into the goaltender. Sometimes that happens, next thing you know, we're down 5-on-3, and the momentum shifted."
The Pulock penalty was the first of badly timed penalties that the Islanders would be unable to overcome. There is a fine line between being physical and being undisciplined, and Matt Martin crossed that line at the end of the first period when he was called for a roughing penalty against Mackenzie MacEachern. Rather than being down 1-0 and having a chance to seize momentum back early in the second period, the Islanders were on the penalty kill, and Carolina would once again convert, this time when Martin Necas scored off a cross-crease pass by Stefan Noesen.
"The penalty at the end of the first hurt us," Lambert said. "We made a mistake on the kill. Penalties hurt us tonight. I thought we took a couple of undisciplined penalties, no question."
The Islanders are a physical playoff team, but also one that should know better than to push things to the point that puts them at a disadvantage and severely hurt their chances to get back in the hockey game and in the series.