In the second-to-last home game of the 2010-11 season, the New York Islanders gave up a 4-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes in front of a sellout crowd.
“They just came hard,” said goaltender Al Montoya, who made 22 saves in the effort. “That was there season, the third period. But for us, if we want to move forward as a winning team and continue this, in the third periods, we have to put teams away.”
The Islanders began the third period with a 2-1 lead, but the Hurricanes, who are fighting for their playoff lives, came out with more energy and more of an overall effort finding the back of the net three times, once on an empty net.
“I don’t think we played too bad tonight,” center John Tavares said. “Obviously, the last game was a really emotional one. We talked about making sure that we were re-focused for this game. It’s our third game in four nights. I thought we moved our feet pretty well the first two periods, but parts of the third we didn’t. Then they got that third one and we kind of stopped skating.”
Dylan Reese #42 of the New York Islanders tries to defend against Eric Staal #12 and Erik Cole #26 of the Carolina Hurricanes on April 2, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
The goal Tavares was speaking of was the game-winner, scored by Erik Cole at 6:04 in the third. Cole drove the net and waited for a pass from Eric Staal, which came, and he poked it past Montoya
“The guy (Cole) walked off the wall,” Montoya said. “I kind of committed to him with the screen and threw it back to him and he made a good play but we just have to be aware of those guys.”
To solidify the win, Staal beat rookie defenseman Mark Katic for a shorthanded breakaway with 47.6 seconds remaining in the game and put the puck in the back of an empty net.
“Unfortunately, the last one bounced off of Katic’s stick and there’s nothing you can do about that with Staal peering down on him,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said.
Even though there were a few mistakes back on the blue line, Capuano gave credit to the Islanders young defensemen.
“(Katic and Dylan Reese) played together in Bridgeport,” Capuano said. “They played the power play there and I thought that they were very good tonight. You know what, the guys that come up, I have no problem giving them ice time, and I have the utmost confidence in those guys that have been around for a long time.”
Heading into the second period, the score was tied at one. But after a faceoff from the right dot, Matt Moulson sniped a shot from the empty space between the blue line and top of the faceoff circle. Tavares used the screen to his advantage and found Moulson’s puck for a deflection at 7:05, giving the Islanders their only lead of the contest.
Jesse Joensuu #58 of the New York Islanders battles for the puck with Jerome Samson #71 of the Carolina Hurricanes on April 2, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
“I just won the draw and Reese made a good play to Matty (Moulson),” Tavares said. “I told Matty that I would be there and I tipped it in. I just got good body positioning and I was fortunate enough that it went in the right spot.”
Each team scored one in the first period. Jussi Jokinen tallied first, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 4:47, but exactly four minutes later, Jesse Joensuu tied the score for the Islanders.
“Jack (Hillen) put the puck into our own corner,” Joensuu said. “I saw that no one was around me so I was able to gather some speed. I didn’t feel like I could have taken him wide so I wanted to shoot from his feet so the goalie wouldn’t see it. I was lucky that it went in.”
Capuano said Joensuu, a call-up from the Sound Tigers, was the team’s best forward.
“He was skating, he was driving his legs and I thought tonight he was our best forward,” Capuano said. “He’s a power forward. When we called him back up the second time, he had a clear understanding of what he had to do.”
Capuano continued, “He’s got skill, but at the same time at 210 pounds. He has to get to the net; he has to drive to the net and he has pretty good speed for a big guy. He got a great goal tonight coming down the wing.”
The Hurricanes tied it at two at 3:02 in the third. Joe Corvo converted a deflection from Tim Gleason’s sniper.