Carolina Hurricanes defeat Islanders for fifth straight win
Make it five.
For the first time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes have won five straight games, and the fifth came against a team they hadn’t been able to solve until Tuesday.
The Canes finally found a way to beat the New York Islanders and goalie Thomas Greiss, winning 4-3 at refurbished Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The Isles had beaten the Canes three times this season, with Greiss in net for all three, and had won their past six games overall.
The run of 10 points allowed Carolina (20-17-5) to ease up in the Eastern Conference standings, leaving the Canes six points out of a wild-card playoff position.
Asked about his team’s confidence level, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, “Winning breeds that. It’s kind of a snowball effect, just like losing is. It’s really hard to get out of either one. You obviously want to keep the winning one going.
“We’re just finding ways to win right now without playing our best. That’s really the key and that’s a good sign. We know we can get better.”
Here’s what it took for the Canes to win:
-- A power-play goal by defenseman Jaccob Slavin with 1:07 left in regulation that gave Carolina a 4-2 lead.
-- A goal by captain Justin Williams, who first stewed in the penalty box after being called for hooking, then bounced out of the box to flip a backhander past Greiss to make it 3-2 with 2:42 left in the third.
-- A goal by center Greg McKegg with six seconds left in the first period, then the primary assist on the Williams goal with a sharp, cross-ice feed.
-- Saku Maenalanen’s first NHL goal, which tied the score 1-1 in the first.
-- A successful coach’s challenge by Brind’Amour that wiped out an Islanders goal in the second.
Add in another quality start by goalie Curtis McElhinney, who had 28 saves, and aggressive penalty killing and the Canes had a nice road victory to savor heading to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning on Thursday.
“Good teams have to find a way to win and pick each other up and we did that,” Brind’Amour said.
Carolina had two penalties in the second period, then the call against Williams with 4:57 left in regulation, but did not allow the Islanders to convert.
A careless penalty against the Isles’ Leo Komarov, who cross-checked Brock McGinn into the boards with 2:05 remaining in the third, allowed Slavin to score what would be the game-winner.
The Canes made things interesting in the final 67 seconds, however. The Isles’ Brock Nelson, who had two goals and an assist, scored eight seconds after Slavin and the Canes twice iced the puck after Greiss was pulled for an extra attacker.
“Seems like we always make it interesting, even when we don’t have to,” Williams said. “That team makes you earn everything.”
On the second icing, the Canes’ Sebastian Aho missed an empty net. That resulted in one final draw in the Canes zone that was won by the Islanders, and Aho and McGinn both had to block shots by Josh Bailey in the final seconds.
Maenalenen, recalled Jan. 1 from Charlotte, scored his first after some strong forechecking by his line. Warren Foegele dumped the puck in and was first in, Victor Rask got a piece of the puck -- Rask finishing with two assists in the game -- and Maenalanen pawed it down, then backhanded it past Greiss.
McKegg’s goal came on another good forecheck and bang-bang play in front of Greiss as Micheal Ferland centered the puck and McKegg had it go off him and then Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech for a 2-1 lead after one.
“Kegger might have been one of our best forwards,” Brind’Amour said. “Every time I threw him out there he was noticeable.”
McKegg, who centered the third line Tuesday, has two goals and two assists in three games since being called up from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.
The Islanders (23-14-4) believed they had tied the score 2-2 early in the second on a Jordan Eberle shot from the slot. But Brind’Amour was quickly informed by video coaches Chris Huffine and L.J. Scarpace that the Isles’ Val Filppula was offside on the zone entry and made the challenge, which was upheld on review. No goal.
“They radioed in, ‘It was offside, offside,’” Brind’Amour sad. “It was. You could see clear as day. We got real fortunate there and got a little better as the game went on.”
The Islanders did tie it 2-2 at 4:50 of the third when defenseman Devon Toews scored on a shot through traffic from the point.
“We buckled down when we had to,” Brind’Amour said.