Canes win second straight in shootout thriller with Islanders

chip.alexander@newsobserver.comApril 23, 2013 

Islanders Hurricanes Hockey

New York Islanders' Colin McDonald (13) tries to take a shot against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Dan Ellis, rear, as Jeff Skinner (53), Jamie McBain (4) and Marc-Andre Bergeron, left, defend during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 23, 2013.


— The Carolina Hurricanes have the worst home record in the NHL this season, a big reason they won’t be a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The New York Islanders have been an outstanding road team this season, a big reason they could be in postseason for the first time since 2007.

Something had to give Tuesday night at PNC Arena, and the Hurricanes won 4-3 in shootout.

In the shootout, Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner scored for the Canes. Carolina goalie Dan Ellis turned back shots by Frans Nielsen and Brad Boyes.

Kyle Okposo’s goal with 1 minute, 1 second left in regulation tied the score 3-3 for the Isles. It came moments after Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov denied the Canes’ Alexander Semin with a poke check on a rush.

John Tavares got the puck to Okposo in front and he tapped it past Ellis, who made 36 saves.

The surging Islanders came into Tuesday’s game in sixth place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference with 53 points and with a 14-5-2 road record.

Patrick Dwyer’s goal with 2:15 left in the second period had given the Canes a 3-2 lead they tried to protect throughout the final period. The Canes nearly took a two-goal lead, but Tuomo Ruutu hit the post when he had an open net in the third.

In the first period, Semin scored early and center Jordan Staal late as the Canes took a 2-1 lead.

Dwyer scored after Ruutu rumbled into the Isles zone, running over defenseman Andrew MacDonald along the right boards. Ruutu collected the puck behind the Isles net, and his pass hit Jordan Staal’s skate and caromed to an unchecked Dwyer for his eighth goal of the season.

Josh Bailey scored with 12:26 left in the second to tie the score 2-2 for the Isles. Bailey’s goal came on the rebound of a Okposo shot as Canes defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti couldn’t locate the puck and Bailey whacked it in.

The Canes again had a fast, sharp start, just as they did in Tampa when they jumped ahead 3-0 in the first period.

Semin scored at 3:57 of the first, taking a pass from Eric Staal and ripping a quick shot that beat Nabokov five-hole. Semin’s goal was his 13th of the season and third in the past four games.

Jordan Staal had a sluggish start to the first but scored with 3:40 left in the first. After some aggressive forechecking by Jiri Tlusty and Semin, Staal redirected a shot by Jay Harrison from the point for his 10th of the season.

The Isles tied the score at 6:04 of the first when Mark Streit’s slap pass glanced off the skate of Brad Boyes and past Ellis. The play was reviewed to determine whether Boyes kicked the puck into the net, but the goal was upheld.

Tlusty assisted on Staal’s goal and now has a six-game point streak as he played his 200th game with the Hurricanes. Harrison’s assist was the defenseman’s first point in 21 games.

Ellis made some sharp saves on shots by Nielsen and Okposo in the opening minute. The Isles had nine shots in the first eight minutes but closed with 11 in the first period.

Ellis got some help in the second period from Skinner, who was shifted from the left wing on the second line and centered the third line Tuesday. With less than two minutes left in the period, the Isles’ Michael Grabner got off a shot from the right circle and the puck leaked through the pads of Ellis, but Skinner swept in to push the puck back under Ellis’ pads.

In the third, the Canes killed off a Semin penalty early, then Ellis made pad saves on attempts by Bailey, Matt Martin and Boyes. He stopped another Boyes shot from the slot with three minutes left.

Ruutu had a chance to give the Canes a 4-2 lead after Nabokov misplayed the puck behind the Isles net. Ruutu had an open net but hit the post.

Skinner escaped what could have been a serious injury in the third period when he was kicked in the face by Streit’s boot near the New York net. No penalty was called.

The Islanders are seeking their first playoff berth since 2007.

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