Canes still struggling on road

The Hurricanes surge back with two late goals to tie, but a rookie saves the Isles.

Staff writerOctober 22, 2009 

— The Carolina Hurricanes had not won a road game, and the New York Islanders had not won any game, home or away, this season.

Something had to give and it did: The Islanders now have a victory, which in turn means the Hurricanes still are searching for some answers.

Rookie John Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, finished off a 4-3 shootout win for the Isles with a goal Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum.

Jeff Tambellini scored for the Isles to begin the shootout, and Frans Nielsen did the same. Jussi Jokinen scored for the Hurricanes, but Tavares ended it as the Canes lost their second shootout of the season.

"We played well in the second and third periods, but we're still too inconsistent," Jokinen said. "It's the same as we've been playing -- good in 10-minute spurts but then with too many mistakes and too sloppy.

"But we did some good things. We got a point out of it. Shootouts can make a difference in you making the playoffs or not, and we need to find a way to win some shootouts."

The Hurricanes trailed 3-1 with six minutes to play in regulation. But Eric Staal scored on a hard slapshot with 5:59 left. Then Jokinen scored with 4:57 to play.

"Eric scoring for us is big," said Canes winger Ray Whitney, who played his 1,000th NHL game. "We need him to be the big guy he can be."

Staal picked up his third goal of the season and notched his first two-point game.

"For our offense, getting that big boy going is critical," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "He had the fire on the bench."

In barely a minute, the Canes had tied the score -- nearly as quickly as the Islanders took a two-goal lead in the second period.

Tim Jackman and Andy Sutton scored 49 seconds apart in the second to push the Isles ahead 3-1 after Matt Cullen's power-play score for Carolina had tied the score.

"The things we've missed in our start has been offensive zone time, and we had a whole boatload of it," Maurice said. "We started to move and be more aggressive. "

The Hurricanes now are 0-3-1 on the road and 2-4-2 for the season, while the Islanders came in 0-3-3. The Hurricanes swept them last season and had won eight of the last 10 in the series.

Trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Hurricanes tied the score on Matt Cullen's power-play goal early in the second. But just when it seemed Carolina was taking charge, relentlessly pressuring goaltender Dwayne Roloson, Jackman and then Sutton scored in bang-bang fashion.

First, Nate Thompson circled the net and got off a shot. Jackman banged away at the rebound until he got the puck past the Canes' Cam Ward at 10:32.

Then, Sutton struck. Defenseman Jack Hillen got off a shot from the point that Sutton redirected past Ward at 11:21. Two goals, 49 seconds.

"I consider those lucky goals," Whitney said. "The (Jackman) one goes off a guy's stick and rolls up and over Wardo. The third (goal) was a deflection.

"I thought we played good after that. We generated more. We worked to get back in it. We didn't stop."

The Hurricanes talked this week of winning more puck battles, of competing harder. Against the Islanders, that's usually enough.

But the Isles, not the Canes, took the first lead. Matt Moulson rifled a shot past Ward from his knees in the slot at 8:11 of the first.

Scott Walker did attempt to give the Canes a spark -- with his fists. With 7:30 left in the first, he outslugged defenseman Brendan Witt.

Carolina's Andrew Alberts also caused some tense moments in the third when he banged Isles winger Tavares into the boards. Sutton soon retaliated by going after Alberts and giving the Canes a power play, but Carolina couldn't take advantage.

Cullen finally got the Hurricanes -- shut out 2-0 by New Jersey in their last game -- on the board at 5:34 of the second. The Canes were 29th in the league on the power play at 11.1 percent, but Cullen found a way to score -- his shot hitting a defenseman in front of the crease and past Roloson.

The Canes continue the road trip with a Friday game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche, then play the Minnesota Wild on Saturday before returning home.

"It wasn't the result we wanted, but the fact we came back and got that point is big for us," Whitney said.

Canes defenseman Tim Gleason left the game in the second period with an upper body injury and not return. There was no additional information on his condition after the game.

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

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