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Islanders Earn First Win, Nip Hurricanes 4-3 in Shootout

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The Carolina Hurricanes fought from two goals back to tie the score, but lost to the New York Islanders Wednesday night in a shootout, 4-3.  The Islanders had yet to win a game this season but jumped on the Canes early as they took a 1-0 lead in the opening period, then held on for dear life to earn the victory.

The Hurricanes are still winless on the road, (0-3-1), and have now lost four games in a row.

Islanders leading scorer, Matt Moulson scored the first goal of the game eight minutes in on of a nice feed by Andy Sutton. Moulson made a beautiful shot on Cam Ward and out-muscled Sergei Samsonov on the play.

Carolina would tie the score in the second period when Matt Cullen rifled a pass to the front of the crease.   The puck would bounce in the net off of a defenseman's skate, giving Cullen his second goal of the year.  Eric Staal picked up his first assist of the season on the fluke play.   It was also a powerplay goal.

The Islanders struck back quickly though just a bit later in the period as they scored two goals inside a minute to take a 3-1 lead.  The Hurricanes fired 17 shots on goal in that period, but looked out of synch most of the time.

The visitors continued to struggle early in the third period, but started to create more and more pressure in the New York zone.  Finally, with just under six minutes left, Joni Pitkanen guided a puck to Eric Staal, who flipped it to Ray Whitney.  Whitney faked out Dwayne Roloson, leaving an open net for Staal who buried the return pass from Whitney.  The Canes finally looked like they had life. 

About a minute later, once again Pitkanen would create a play, this time finding Jussi Jokinen in the slot area and his friend made no mistake, beating Roloson short side.  The game was suddenly tied and the Hurricanes made it look easy.

But a hooking penalty by Whitney would kill the momentum.  After the Canes killed the penalty, they were unable to generate anymore sterling chances and the game would end in a draw. 

The Islanders had the best chance in OT but Ward stopped an open John Tavares, who was hanging back at center ice cherry-picking on the play. 

Jussi Jokinen made a nice goal in the shootout, but Samsonov was stopped by Roloson and Ruutu did not need to take his shot.  All three New York shooters scored easily against Ward, leaving the Canes with a 1-2 record in shootouts so far this year.

Next up will be the Colorado Avs in Denver on Friday night. 

  • Joni Pitkanen was the best player on the ice for Carolina.  He broke up numerous plays on defense and created both third period goals.  He led both teams with over 30 minutes of ice time.  It is amazing how well he is able to play considering he missed all of training camp and has practiced and played very little with his teammates.  The defenseman also had four hits, six shots on goal, and three takeaways.  
  • Kudos to Scott Walker, who tried to get his team fired up when he dropped the gloves with Brendan Witt about mid-way through the opening period.
  • Paul Maurice was mixing up the lines all night, but eventually moved Jussi Jokinen to center and had Ruutu and Samsonov on his wings.  That line looked pretty good just like it did in last year's playoffs.  Cullen and Brind'Amour were matched up with Walker in another line.  I'm not sure who was playing wing and who was center, but both Cullen and Brindy had about the same number of faceoffs for the game.  
  • Tim Gleason left the game early with an upper body concern.  John Forslund reported on the radio that he was not wearing a sling and seemed to be walking normally after the game.  We will have more about that as we are informed.
  • Aaron Ward led both teams with seven hits.  Pitkanen was next with four.
  • Staal led the Canes with seven shots on goal.  Pitkanen and Kostopoulos had six each.
  • Brind'Amour finished at -2, worst on the team. 
  • Once again, faceoff percentage was not good as the team won just 31%. Cullen was 5 of 13 for 38%, Staal was 6 of 22 for 27%, Brind'Amour was 5 of 12 for 42%, and Jokinen was 2 of 10 for 20%.
  • The Canes powerplay was 1-4 as they scored on the fluke play by Cullen.

The Hurricanes will still be searching for answers after this game as they have to be wondering why they can not seem to play with consistent intensity and energy.  The team can take some satisfaction in knowing they came back and scored two goals late in the third period to tie the game, but they still lost to arguably the worst team in the league.