McDonald had a three-point game (two goals, one assist), while linemate Ryan Strome had two assists – including the game-winning pass to Martin late in the second period – as the Islanders third line combined for seven points.
“I think we had a little bit of puck luck,” Martin said. “We worked hard, but over the last few games, we’ve developed some more chemistry together. We weren’t clicking as well in the first few games, but tonight we exploded offensively.”
Cal Clutterbuck also scored, as the Islanders led 4-0 10:54 into the first period. The four-goal lead was put to the test, as the Hurricanes continuously chipped away, eventually cutting the deficit to 4-3 and 5-4.
“It was a crazy game,” McDonald said. “We got off to a good start… but that’s a good team over there and they took it to us for a bit. I thought we did a good job maintaining our game.”
The Islanders scored three times on their first nine shots, chasing Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward 6:12 into the opening period. McDonald scored twice in a 2:33 span – first jamming away at a Thomas Hickey rebound before burying a cross-ice feed from Calvin de Haan – sandwiching Clutterbuck’s 11th of the season.
After the goaltending change, the Islanders quickly took advantage of backup goalie Anton Khudobin. Martin scored the first of his two goals on the cold, Canes netminder, potting a rebound that Khudobin lost in his equipment and inadvertently shook loose.
The Hurricanes answered the Islanders fourth goal 1:44 later, as Jeff Skinner began a Canes’ push with a power-play goal. Andrei Loktionov cut the Islanders lead in half two-and-a-half minutes later, outlasting Anders Nilsson on a breakaway, before beating the fallen goaltender.
The Hurricanes continued their surge 2:42 into the second period, as Alex Semin beat Nilsson with a one-timer on a Carolina power play. Martin’s winner broke up the Hurricanes rally, but Nathan Gerbe answered with a sharp-angled goal 22 seconds later.
“Our penalty kill let them back in the game, but overall I thought our kids did a good job against a high-powered team,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “They made a push in the second, but overall, we competed, which is what we are looking for from this hockey club right now.”
Nilsson made 24 saves for the Islanders, but saved his best work for the third period, stopping all six shots he faced. Khudobin finished the game with 21 saves in relief of Ward.
The win was the Islanders first against the Hurricanes this season, improving their road record to 13-4-1 in their last 18 games.
The Islanders continue their two-game trip in Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Puck drop from the Tampa Bay Times Forum is at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: McDonald had a team-high three points, five shots and plus-four rating… Kevin Czuczman recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Martin’s first goal… Thomas Hickey picked up two assists… Four different Islanders defensemen – Hickey, Czuczman, Hamonic and de Haan – recorded assists… de Haan led the Islanders with 27:21 TOI.
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