Matt Cullen and Eric Staal each scored a goal and an assist to power the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the Islanders, Thursday night at the RBC Center. Matt Moulson eclipsed the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career, scoring on a snap shot over Hurricanes’ starter Cam Ward, late in the third period. The Islanders drop to 23-23-8, keeping them with 54 points and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
For the third straight game, the Islanders surrendered a power-play goal and tonight it opened the scoring for Carolina. Brandon Sutter dished the puck low to Staal in the right corner where the Hurricanes’ captain settled the play. Staal whipped a shot on Islanders’ starter Rick DiPietro who made the initial save but the rebound was kicked right back onto Staal’s stick where he deposited the puck in the back of the net for his 18th goal of the season. Matt Cullen had the second assist on the goal coming at 9:19 of the first period.
The Hurricanes doubled their lead three minutes later on Cullen’s tenth tally of the season, a wrist shot from the right circle that sailed over DiPietro’s glove as he was screened in front.
Neither team was able to tally a goal in the second period but the Islanders’ best chance came when Josh Bailey streak in from the near corner, alone on Carolina starter Cam Ward. Bailey backhanded a shot that ward tried to squeeze in his chest but the puck fell in the slot to Matt Moulson who attempted to stuff the puck under Ward, but to no avail.
Carolina would add to their lead with a short-handed goal, the third the Islanders have surrendered this season, by Yelle. Mark Streit was unable to keep the puck in along the near boards as Yelle skated to the loose puck in the neutral zone. With Doug Weight covering the two-on-one, Yelle pulled the puck back and ripped a shot over DiPietro’s glove for his third marker of the season, coming 9:40 into the final 20 minutes of play.
With less than five minutes to play, Moulson broke Ward’s bid for his first shutout of the season. The Islander forward took a pass from Frans Nielsen at the hash-marks and snapped a shot over Ward’s glove for his 20th goal of the season.
Jussi Jokinen sealed the victory with an empty-net goal, his 16th of the season, assisted by Staal and Ray Whitney.
The Islanders finished the game 2-for-3 on the penalty-kill and 0-for-2 on the man-advantage. DiPietro had 20 saves in the game while Ward, earning his 13th win of the season, made 26 saves.
Game two of the current four-game road-trip that the Islanders are on will take place in the city of Brotherly Love on Saturday when the Islanders take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Game-time is set for 1 p.m. The Islanders next home game is Saturday, Feb. 6 when they host the Hurricanes at the Nassau Coliseum for the final meeting between the two teams this season. The opening face-off is set for 7 p.m. For tickets or information on how to receive group discounted pricing, contact the team’s front office at (516) 501-6700 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Matt Cullen – Scores a goal and an assist
2. Eric Staal – Also records a goal and an assist
3. Cam Ward – Makes 26 saves to earn his 13th win of the season
Honorable Mention: Matt Moulson – Hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career
Pairings: With the injury of Jack Hillen on Tuesday night, the Islanders recalled Dustin Kohn from the Sound Tigers to join the team for their current road-trip. With Kohn in the lineup, Scott Gordon had to rearrange his defense pairing. Mark Streit, previously playing with Andrew MacDonald, was reunited with Bruno Gervais. MacDonald was partnered with Andy Sutton and Kohn was with Freddy Meyer.
’06 Banner: Islanders’ captain Doug Weight was back in the building where he won his first and only Stanley Cup in his career with the Carolina Hurricanes. A lasting image from the Stanley Cup Championship celebration was Weight lifting the 30 pound Cup over his head with pretty much one arm as he had a separated shoulder late in the Hurricanes’ series against the Edmonton Oilers.