In a battle of teams on winning streaks, the Carolina Hurricanes halted the New York Islanders streak at six, while extending their own streak to five with a 4-3 win at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night. Behind a valiant effort from Curtis McElhinney in net, stopping 28 of 31 shots faced, Carolina was able to grind out the two goals they needed inside the final three minutes of regulation.
The early Canes offense consisted of contributions from the extended depth of the roster that has been instrumental in much of their recent success as Saku Maenalanen notched his first NHL goal and Greg McKegg got credit for his second marker of the season as the Canes claimed a 2-1 first period lead, as he continues to make a significant impact in his early work as a Hurricane.
Although the Isles were the first to break the ice on the back of Brock Nelson’s unassisted goal off of a turnover from Justin Faulk at 13:42 of the first period, the Canes answered back on a nifty backhander from Maenalanen after he snatched the puck out of the air with his glove near the crease. Carolina captured the lead just seconds before the conclusion of the period as Micheal Ferland whipped the puck towards the net from the corner, where McKegg and the Islanders defense played pinball into the back of the net, making the score 2-1 after one.
The second period saw the Canes as the beneficiary of the rare challenge for offside, as Jordan Eberle’s apparent tally came off the board after Rod Brind’Amour challenged, correctly, that Josh Bailey was offside as the puck entered the zone. As Carolina began to control action late in the second, McElhinney came up with a terrific save on Ryan Pulock to maintain the tight 2-1 advantage entering the third period.
In the third, the Isles applied pressure immediately and were rewarded with an equalizer almost five minutes into the period as Devon Toews snapped one home from the top of the circles with a terrific net front presence provided by Nelson. The significant pressure from the Isles continued throughout the third as they sought the tie-breaking goal.
With just under five minutes remaining, Justin Williams got the gate for a hooking penalty, setting up a crucial penalty kill for Carolina. After a gritty kill, Williams sprung out of the box to nullify an icing and roofed the go-ahead goal on the backhand off a pass from McKegg (his second point of the night).
As the final minutes resumed, a cross-check from behind by Leo Komarov to Brock McGinn with just over two minutes remaining appeared to all but seal the Canes victory. For good measure, Jaccob Slavin wristed home the power play game-sealing tally extending the lead to 4-2 with just over a minute remaining. As action resumed, the Islanders advanced immediately into the Carolina zone, where Nelson again beat McElhinney for an unassisted goal to draw within one goal yet again. Despite a few more heart-stopping moments, the Canes held strong and escaped with a 4-3 win.
The Canes will continue a busy week with a trip to Tampa to take on the best the NHL currently has to offer as they meet the Lightning on Thursday night.