UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The New York Islanders played their best game of the season, and did everything right except earn two points.
Cam Ward made 57 saves and Chad LaRose scored twice to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Islanders 4-3 on Saturday night. "It's not as frustrating as it was the other night, because we played our system and gave ourselves a chance to win," Islanders captain Bill Guerin said, comparing the game to Thursday night's 5-3 loss to Dallas.
"It's a loss, and it's unacceptable, but we played better."
Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Staal also scored for the Hurricanes in their third straight victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Freddy Meyer, Sean Bergenheim and Mark Streit scored for New York. The Islanders have lost three straight overall and three of four home games so far this season.
Rick DiPietro started in goal and stopped 10 shots before being pulled for Joey MacDonald to start the second period. MacDonald took the loss while stopping 14 shots.
The Islanders set a franchise record with 60 shots on goal.
"It looked like they were throwing everything at the net," Ward said. "But it's really not the number of shots that matters - it's the number of good chances, and I think our defence did a great job in clearing out rebounds so there were very few second chances."
The Islanders were awarded a penalty shot in the final second when Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason closed his hand on the puck in the crease, but Doug Weight missed.
"He's a gifted player," Ward said. "I thought he might go five-hole, but I tried not to overthink it."
Weight said the bad ice and Ward's position gave him few options.
"It got quite interesting there," Weight said. "He was out about 10-12 feet. He went down and I tried to put it to the high glove, and I had to make a perfect shot, and I didn't. He played it well."
LaRose gave Carolina the lead 3:43 into the game. He picked off DiPietro's clearing attempt near the blue line, skated into the right circle and beat the goalie with a wrist shot.
"The coaches told us before the game that Ricky likes to clear the puck up the middle," LaRose said. I just happened to get my glove on it and came in and beat him to the far side."
Brind'Amour set himself up to net his fourth goal of the season at 8:49. He won a faceoff in the right circle, and drew the puck back to Joe Corvo at the right point. DiPietro stopped Corvo's shot, but Brind'Amour was able to grab the rebound and shove it in.
DiPietro was pulled after the period in favour of MacDonald.
Islanders coach Scott Gordon, who guards his team's injuries from being news, offered this explanation for the switch.
"It wasn't his performance, and we'll know more on Monday," Gordon said. "I've been told that our policy is that we can't talk about injuries, and that's what I'm stuck with."
New York got on the board at 3:56 of the second period when Meyer let go a 40-foot slap shot that beat Ward.
Carolina answered at 10:51 when Staal intercepted Meyer's pass in the offensive zone and beat MacDonald for his fourth goal of the season.
Bergeinheim narrowed the gap to 3-2 with a short-handed goal at 5:35 of the third period. He drew Ward down and backhanded the puck in.
LaRose answered back for Carolina 1:36 later on a rebound.
Brandon Sutter went down on a hard, but clean check by Weight at 9:58. He was tended to by trainers from both teams. After about five minutes, he was able to stand up, and was assisted off the ice.
"He was taken to the hospital to get checked out," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "He was in a vulnerable position, and those kind of hits have to be removed from the game. He may not have had his arm up, but those kind of hits are dangerous."
Weight gave his side of the story.
"Brandon was coming up, and the puck was bobbling," Weight said. "I wanted to shoulder him, but he leaned forward at the last second and I had no way to stop. I hope he's OK."
The Islanders wound up with a power play during the ensuing melee, and scored to cut the gap to 4-3. Streit cranked a slap shot and blew it past Ward at 10:34.
Notes: The Hurricanes are on their fourth stop of a six-game road trip, one which saw them play twice in California. Visits to Montreal and St. Louis follow. ... The Islanders will unveil their alternate third jersey Monday prior to the game against the Rangers, but won't wear the retro uniforms until Nov. 1 against Montreal.