UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Jiri Tlusty lost his hat trick after a scoring change. He was more than happy to take the two points instead.
Carolina trailed 3-2 after two periods, but needed only 30 seconds to pull even. A dominant first shift ended with Tlusty racing to the front of the net to tip home Alexander Semin's hard pass from the lower right circle for his second goal of the season.
After Semin's 200th NHL goal – a pass that deflected off Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic in the slot and floated into the net at 5:33 -- put Carolina ahead, Tlusty was originally given credit for what proved to be the winning goal, a tip-in of Jay Harrison's shot at 9:09, and his empty-netter would have completed a hat trick. But Tlusty said after the game that he wasn't sure the goal was his – and a review gave it to Eric Staal instead.
The win was a bit of revenge for the Hurricanes, who were swept by the Islanders in their four meetings last season.
"We knew we owed them for last season," Staal said. "They had our number. We talked about that before the game. We wanted to make sure we responded."
The Islanders came into the game having allowed a League-high 18 third-period goals and had no answer for the Hurricanes' forechecking as they lost their fifth in a row and fell to 1-5-0 at home.
"Our third periods have been strong, and we showed it today," Tlusty said. "We wore the D down – that was the plan."
The Hurricanes dominated play 5-on-5, but the Islanders shook off an 0-for-22 power-play drought by connecting on their first four advantages.
"I think we're going to have a long video, a big learning session, after this game," Tlusty said. "Four goals is very high, and we're trying to be better on the penalty kill. I think we were doing well for the last three games, but it wasn't a good night for us. Luckily we scored 5-on-5, which is even better, and we got the two points."
It was a tough night for Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, who was making only his second appearance of the season and the first since Jan. 25 – as well as his first at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum since Nov. 23, 2011. He had some good moments, but was the subject of some derisive cheers after allowing three goals in the first 9:09 of the third period.
"We're working hard. That's all we can do," he said. "The difference between winning and losing is so small – it's one mistake here, one bad play there. If we continue to play hard and make smart decisions, we're going to win a lot more games than we lose."
"We've found ways to get points on the first five games of this trip," said Tlusty, who came into the game with only one goal this season. "We've got to keep it going."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano was understandably pleased to see his power play find the net, but wasn't happy with a lot of other aspects of his team's play.
"We're the type of team that needs all 20 guys going, and we didn't have that tonight," he said. "I thought some guys were soft."
He declined to discuss the play of DiPietro, who finished with 25 saves.
Frans Nielsen scored in the first period, and John Tavares and Matt Moulson had goals in the second. Newcomer Lubomir Visnovsky made it 5-4 with New York's fourth power-play goal at 11:32 of the final period, but the Islanders couldn't convert when Eric Staal was called for tripping with 6:10 to play.
The Islanders snapped their four-game power-play drought just 2:48 after the opening faceoff. With Jordan Staal in the box for an offensive-zone slash on Mark Streit, Josh Bailey circled the net and found Nielsen for a quick one-timer from the slot past Ward at 2:48 for his first of the season.
Ward kept the deficit at one with a handful of fine stops, including one on a semi-breakaway by Bailey midway through the period, and Carolina's fourth line tied the game at 13:48. Jamie McBain's slapper from the top of the right circle hit the skate of Wallace and deflected past DiPietro. The goal, the first of the season for the former Islander, was confirmed after video review.
The Islanders scored two more power-play goals in less than 2 ½ minutes early in the second period. Tavares backhanded a rebound past Ward at 5:23 for his seventh of the season. After Skinner tied it 39 seconds later with his seventh, a blast from the slot off a broken play, Moulson put the Islanders back in front at 7:46 when he one-timed Brad Boyes' perfect pass across the slot into the open right side for his fifth of the season.
DiPietro preserved the lead through two periods with three excellent stops. He denied Skinner from just outside the crease near the nine-minute mark, then got in front of Eric Staal's wide-open blast from the left circle less than a minute later. With 4:20 remaining, he gloved Tim Gleason's left-point blast through traffic and held on with Eric Staal in his lap.
But the Hurricanes' persistence was enough to overcome a poor night on the penalty kill.
"I thought we slowly took over the game as it went on," said Eric Staal, who extended his points streak to nine games with his goal. "We were on their defense. We were really controlling pucks, down low and making it really tough on them. Besides giving them momentum by giving them power plays, we really controlled the game, especially in the third period."