Chad Johnson, who had not allowed more than two goals in his last four starts, surrendered five on 41 shots (.878 save percentage).
"If you don't execute, if I don't make the saves, they'll capitalize on the power play," said Johnson said after the game. "It's very disappointing."
The penalty kill, which had killed 21 of the last 22 opponents' power plays, also faltered. The Isles surrendered two power play goals in five Carolina opportunities.
"Kulie scores a big goal and we're right there, as bad as we played up to then," Jack Capuano told reporters. "Two power-play goals is big. You can't give up two and expect to win."
Johnson does get a little reprieve here, because the first goal was pretty clearly directed in with the heel of Jay McClement's skate, but allowed to stand. And you're not going to win many games that you get outshot 41-24. Still, the Islanders survived the Hurricanes' early pushes and had an opportunity to claw back from a two goal deficit.
When Nikolay Kulemin scored to cut the Carolina lead to 3-2, the result was still very much in doubt. But Carolina's fourth goal was a soft one. Andrej Nestrasil slapped the puck on net and I think Johnson will tell you himself that he should have handled it. But it slipped through his pads behind him to a charging Brad Malone, who deposited the puck into an empty net. That goal, with just 2:14 left in the second, was the back breaker. And it was followed by a power play tally by Michal Jordan with just under eight seconds left that didn't leave much doubt.
Both Johnson and the PK have been much better of late. The unfortunate reality is that both struggled so mightily throughout the season that it's easy to be discouraged when they have a slight set back. I'm willing to chalk this one up to fatigue from a schedule that has been just plain bonkers the last two weeks (although, in fairness, Carolina played on Friday and traveled), but the Isles could have used to be bailed out by one or both of either their goaltender or their special teams. Unfortunately, neither came through.