ISLES WASH UP vs. 'CANES
By Kerry Gwydir and Corey Witt
The Islanders couldn't cool off the NHL's hottest team as they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC on Thursday night. Erik Staal scored the game-winning goal on a third period breakaway for the 'Canes. Arron Asham, Radek Martinek and Mark Parrish scored the Islanders. Rick DiPietro was in net for the Islanders.
With Tomi Pettinen in the box, the Hurricanes got on the board first when Andrew Ladd danced around Oleg Kvasha and buried a shot over DiPietro's left shoulder at the 5:43 mark. It was Ladds fifth of the season in eight games for the 2004 first round pick.
But, the Isles answered less than a minute later when Jason Blake made a pretty backhand feed to set up Ashams eighth goal of the season. The Islanders right wing converted a forehand snapshot over goaltender Cam Wards left shoulder and just under the crossbar. On the play, Bruno Gervais notched his first NHL point with the secondary assist.
Brad Shaw's team parlayed the goal into a several spirited shifts to follow the scoring sequence. And it took several key stops by Carolina's Ward to keep the Isles off the scoreboard. The goaltender made pad stops on deflections by Shawn Bates and Asham during a powerplay nine minutes in when Carolina was penalized for too many men on the ice.
Penalty problems for Carolina continued soon after as the Isles went on a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:28 with 7:30 to go in the first. With Justin Williams and Niclas Wallin in the sin bin, Ward made two huge saves - one off a Trent Hunter deflection and another off a blast from Alexei Zhitnik to extinguish the opportunity.
The hosts used the strong play to re-take the lead when Matt Cullen snapped a wrister through DiPietro's wickets with four minutes left in the first. Rod BrindAmour managed find plenty of time and space to find Cullen, who had pulled away from the front of the Islander net to find space for his shot.
The Isles began the second with an abbreviated 5-on-3, but, again, could not convert. Blake continued to be one of the Isles most effective forwards as he was robbed twice of almost sure goals. The first time occurred three minutes in when his stuff-attempt on what looked to be a vacated net was somehow thwarted by a diving paddle stop by Ward. Then, on his next shift, it was the referee's whistle that negated a rebound goal off an Asham shot that was whistled dead prior to Blake pounding home a second opportunity.
A great shift by the Isles checking line of Jeff Hamilton-Kevin Colley-Eric Godard set up Martinek's first of the season with 10:33 left in the second. A pass across the slot from Hamilton allowed Martinek to step around the Carolina coverage to dance in and pot a low shot that eluded Ward.
Carolina had a goal waived off with 25.2 ticks left in the second with Martinek in the box. On the play, Chad Larose's tally was negated when Ray Whitney bumped DiPietro. But, it didn't matter as Kevyn Adams scored 20 seconds later off a long point shot that DiPietro was screened on.
The 'Canes kept the Islanders at bay for the first half of the third period, while creating several scoring chances for themselves. One of the better failed opportunities for Carolina came with about nine minutes left in the period when Chad Larose rang a wrister past DiPietro and off the post.
Carolina kept skating hard and took a 4-2 lead when Erik Cole set up Staal on a breakaway goal at 12:20. Cole slid the puck past Islanders defenseman Alexei Zhitnik in the neutral zone to send Staal on his way. It was Staal's 30th goal of the season.
The Islanders didn't give up easily as Parrish scored his 17th of the season at 16:59. The play started as Kvasha carried the puck into Carolina's zone which started a 3-on-1. Kvasha dished the puck over to Bates, who in turn quickly dished it to Parrish, who then slapped a one-timer past Ward for the score.
However, the Islanders were hard pressed to get another quality scoring opportunity as Carolina buckled down for the final three minutes of the game and held off the Islanders to preserve the win.
Coach Shaw did not make any changes to the lineup from Tuesday night's win in Chicago. Chris Campoli, John Erskine and Mattias Weinhandl were healthy scratches.
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(18) Jeff Hamilton-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(25) Brad Lukowich-(6) Bruno Gervais
(8) Tomi Pettinen-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(13) Ray Whitney-(12) Eric Staal-(26) Erik Cole
(8) Matt Cullen -(17) Rod BrindAmour-(11) Justin Williams
(16) Andrew Ladd(14) Kevyn Adams-(27) Craig Adams
(44) Niklas Nordgren-(59) Chad Larose-(36) Jesse Boulerice
(5) Frantisek Kaberle-(70) Oleg Tverdovsky
(7) Niclas Wallin-(24) Andrew Hutchinson
(51) Danny Richmond(22) Mike Commodore
(30) Cam Ward
(29) Martin Gerber