The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders have played some wide-open, almost zanily high-scoring games this season.
The game Tuesday was not one of them.
A night after the two teams combined for 12 goals, eight by the Canes, the Islanders emerged with a 3-2 overtime victory at PNC Arena.
Isles captain John Tavares struck 34 seconds into the overtime for the winner. After New York forced a Canes turnover, Tavares had an open shot in the slot and did not miss, scoring his 26th of the season to give the Isles two needed points.
The Islanders (33-25-11) began Tuesday one point out of playoff position in the NHL’s Eastern Conference; Isles coach Doug Weight called Tuesday’s game their biggest of the season. With goalie Thomas Greiss making several high-quality stops in the final 39 minutes, the Isles won it.
Joakim Nordstrom scored for the Canes (28–27-12) in the first and Elias Lindholm 40 seconds into the second for a 2-0 lead. The Canes had other chances to add to the lead later in the second, misfiring on two power plays, and the Isles tied it on a pair of goals — by rookie forward Josh Ho-Sang and then veteran Jason Chimera — in a 25-second span late in the period.
“We took a breath there late in the second and we kind of let them back in the game,” Lindholm said. “All of a sudden it’s a tight game. We had control there and chances to put in a third one and all of a sudden they’re coming back.”
Greiss stoned Jeff Skinner on a breakaway in the third and made other sparkling saves, stopping Victor Rask on a sharp shot.
The Isles had a lot of problems stopping anything Monday in Brooklyn. Jean-Francois Berube started and Greiss relieved but the Canes got a hat trick from defenseman Jaccob Slavin and two goals each from defenseman Justin Faulk and Skinner in an 8-4 win.
Cam Ward was the Canes’ starting goalie Monday and it was believed Eddie Lack would start the second half of the unusual, home-and-home back-to-back set. But Canes coach Bill Peters again went with Ward, who had a career record of 22-4-4 against the Isles.
Ward had 31 saves before the Tavares winner — the center’s 20th goal in 29 career games against Carolina.
In overtime, the Canes had possession but Slavin tried to hit Jordan Staal with a pass in the neutral zone that was picked off by Ho-Sang — the Canes’ 13th giveaway of the game. Peters said Rask then picked up the wrong man, Ho-Sang, defensively and Tavares had the open look.
“I thought both goalies were good,” Peters said. “If we could have tightened up … we gave up a lot, I thought. You don’t want to give up the amount and the quality we gave them.”
Nordstrom’s goal was his second in as many games, and Lindholm scored his seventh and had another shot go off the shaft of Greiss’ stick. Lindholm scored after forcing a turnover at the Carolina blue line and beating Greiss on a breakaway.
Center Lucas Wallmark, in his second NHL game, earned his first NHL point with an assist on the Nordstrom score.
The Canes beat the Isles 7-4, 5-4 and then 8-4 in the first three games this season. Greiss was the difference Tuesday.
“We had some chances with the power plays and some chances in the third,” Staal said. “Both teams had a lot of good looks and this time they came out on top.”