The Carolina Hurricanes are suddenly just one point out of a playoff spot.
Erik Cole broke a 2-2 tie 6:04 into the third period and Carolina moved within a point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase with a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
After the second period, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice demanded that his players loosen up. Once they did they stormed to a pair of quick goals and left Los Island in striking distance of a spot in the postseason.
"That might have been the overall thought, but I'm not sure it came out like that," Maurice said when asked if he told his team to relax during the second intermission. "The key is not losing sight of that passion and excitement to win games.
"If you allow the tension and negativity of the ramifications of a potential negative outcome to affect that, then you're tanked. We need to go out and just play."
Joe Corvo, Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal also scored, and Cam Ward made 30 saves for the surging Hurricanes, who scored three goals in the third. They have won seven of 10 to move one point behind the New York Rangers. Both teams have four games remaining.
"It's preparing us for what playoff hockey is going to be like. The ups and downs, the momentum changes," Cole said. "But more importantly, it's teaching us that we can't have a group that goes out and be tense. We have to be loose. We have to play the way we're capable."
Jokinen converted a feed from Corvo 4:47 into the game to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. Corvo raced up right wing before feathering a backhand pass to the streaking Jokinen, who lifted a shot over Montoya's glove.
The early deficit didn't seem to faze the Islanders, who gave the Hurricanes little room in the neutral zone and forechecked heavily -- a formula that also worked in their 6-2 win over the Rangers on Thursday.
"I don't think we played too bad," Tavares said. "Last game was real emotional."
Joensuu tied it 1-1 four minutes later with a hard shot from the right circle that eluded Ward. Tavares' redirection of Matt Moulson's point shot at 7:05 of the second period gave New York its only lead.
"The coaches tell you to shoot off the (defenseman's) feet. Maybe the goalie doesn't see it," Joensuu said of his goal. "It was lucky that it (went) in."
Corvo tied the game again at 3:02 of the third with a tip of Tim Gleason's point shot, and set the stage for Cole's game-winner. He was alone in front of the net and shoved Staal's pass past Montoya to put Carolina ahead for good.
"Staal made a great pass," Cole said. "We kind of had a little bit of a broken play going into the zone - their 'D' stood up -- but Staaler kept with it and got a hold on it. I just stopped in front, and he fired one at me. I was able to get a stick on it, get it up top, over his shoulder."
Staal added a shorthanded empty-net goal with 47.6 seconds left after Isles forward Matt Martin missed a great chance in front.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|Jussi Jokinen (18) ASST: Joe Corvo (28), Derek Joslin (7)|
1 - 0 CAR
|Jesse Joensuu (6) ASST: Jack Hillen (18)|
1 - 1 Tie
|John Tavares (28) ASST: Matt Moulson (20), Dylan Reese (5)|
2 - 1 NYI
|Joe Corvo (11) ASST: Tim Gleason (14), Tuomo Ruutu (36)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Erik Cole (24) ASST: Eric Staal (39), Joe Corvo (29)|
3 - 2 CAR
|SHG - EN - Eric Staal (32) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 CAR
|Trevor Gillies Slashing against Chad LaRose|
|Jiri Tlusty Illegal substitution - bench|
|Joe Corvo Hooking against Zenon Konopka|
|John Tavares Hooking against Tim Gleason|
|Zenon Konopka Hi-sticking against Jeff Skinner|
|Jeff Skinner Hooking against Josh Bailey|
|Tuomo Ruutu Tripping against John Tavares|
|Kyle Okposo Tripping against Cory Stillman|
|Jamie McBain Delaying Game-Puck over glass|