The Carolina Hurricanes scored three times in the third period to down the New York Islanders 4-2 and pull to within one point of the eighth place New York Rangers in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Joe Corvo had a goal and two assists while Cam Ward made 29 saves to earn the win. Erik Cole netted the game winner while Eric Staal added a goal and an assist.
Jussi Jokinen gave Carolina a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the game but goals by Jesse Joensuu and John Tavares gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Hurricanes were one period away from a devastating loss that could hurt their playoff hopes but took control of the tempo in the third period. The Canes managed only six shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, but they made them count by crashing the New York net and shutting down the Islanders attack.
“That was their season, the third period,” Islanders goalie Al Montoya admitted. “They just came hard.”
Joe Corvo tired the game just 3:02 into the final period when he redirected a shot by Tim Gleason from about five feet out. Carolina had two players in front of the net to screen Montoya on that play.
Then just over three minutes later, Cole netted the game winner when he tipped a Staal shot past Montoya just seconds after a Hurricanes power play had expired.
“I just stopped in front, and he [Staal] fired one at me,” Cole said. “I was able to get a stick on it, get it up top, over his [Montoya's] shoulder.”
The Islanders had a chance to tie things up when defenseman Jamie McBain was penalized for delay of game with 1:32 left in regulation time. Ward stopped Matt Martin’s shot before Staal scored a shorthanded empty net goal to clinch the victory with 47.6 seconds left on the clock.
Coach Paul Maurice said his top line came through when it counted. “They were good in the third [but] the first two periods, just OK,” Maurice said. “The Staal line has carried us for long parts of the year. Right now, they weren’t at their perfect mesh but when we needed them, they score the game winner and Staal scores the 4-2 goal, so we’ll take their performance.”
The Canes don’t have much time to enjoy their victory over the Islanders. They host the Buffalo Sabres Sunday evening at 5:00 PM. Buffalo is two points ahead of the Hurricanes in the standings.
About the Author
Written by Brad Kurtzberg
Hockey writer for more than 10 years. Has been published on Fox Sports, MSG Network, Huffington Post and Inside Hockey. Wrote the book, "Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals, Hockey's Most Colorful Team" on the old California Golden Seals and is presently working on his second book.