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Hurricanes 4, Islanders 3 @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The puck came too fast for Kevyn Adams to react. Yet it somehow bounced off his stick, skittered into the net and gave the Carolina Hurricanes the lead for good.

Perhaps it was a bit symbolic. On a night the NHL's top team was far from perfect, it still was good enough.

``Sometimes you're not at your best, but all that matters is two points,'' Adams said. ``This was a perfect example.''

The veteran center had that go-ahead goal seconds after he inadvertently caused one to be waved off, Eric Staal added his 30th of the season, and the Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders 4-3 Thursday night for their ninth straight victory.

The winning streak ties the franchise record set earlier this season - the previous best of seven came about 21 years ago when the team was the Hartford Whalers. And Carolina improved the NHL's best home record to 21-4-1 while running its mark to 18-0 when leading after two periods.

``We slugged it out,'' coach Peter Laviolette said. ``It wasn't pretty, but in the end, it was what we needed to get it done. We weren't very good.''

As he noted, this one didn't come in the usual fashion for the Hurricanes. Outskated, outshot and outplayed from the start, they did enough to beat the Islanders for the third time in a row, mostly thanks to backup goaltender Cam Ward. He won his third straight start spread over nearly two weeks by stopping 36 shots.

Carolina was without second-leading scorer Cory Stillman (torso) and defenseman Bret Hedican (shoulder), who joined an ever-growing injury list.

``You've got to understand we've got some bumps and bruises in the lineup,'' Ward said. ``I've been telling people I've got to hold myself accountable to come up big in key situations, when we're a little tired in our defensive zone.''

The Islanders seemed to notice what the Hurricanes were missing. They finished with a 39-25 edge in shots, including 29-12 through the opening two periods. Arron Asham, Radek Martinek and Mark Parrish had goals as New York was trying to win consecutive road games for the first time since early December.

``Sometimes, it's not enough to work hard,'' Parrish said. ``You have to make fewer mistakes, and you've got to work harder and smarter than the other team as well. Even though it seemed like we were taking it to them, they still played a smart game.''

The Islanders also failed to convert a pair of 5-on-3 advantages and missed out on two other great chances. First, left wing Jason Blake tried a wraparound that nearly crept across the goal line before it was smothered by Ward, and the replay official confirmed it.

Then Blake swiped at a rebound that wasn't quite controlled by Ward and eventually knocked the puck in, but referee Dan O'Halloran already had blown his whistle to stop play.

``In the second period, it was pretty good for us,'' New York coach Brad Shaw said. ``We probably played as well as we can as a hockey team and didn't get rewarded quite as much as we thought.''

Of course, a call from the officials also cost Carolina a goal. Ray Whitney appeared to make it 3-2 late in the second period, but Adams came through the crease and bumped goaltender Rick DiPietro.

``I'd have to see it on replay, but all I was trying to do was get to the front of the net and establish position,'' Adams said. ``I didn't feel much of anything, and the puck was in the net, and then all the sudden, I see them waving, so it was frustrating.''

No penalty was called as the goal wasn't allowed, and Adams was on the ice 20 seconds later to deflect in a blast from Mike Commodore. That officially made it 3-2, and the Hurricanes survived a penalty on Commodore in the final seconds to keep the winning streak going.

Rookie Andrew Ladd and Matt Cullen also scored for Carolina.

``The nine-game winning streak is tremendous,'' Ward said. ``But we're concerned about taking it day-by-day, and just trying to keep winning hockey games.''

Notes: Carolina D Danny Richmond and New York RW Kevin Colley fought early in the second period, and Colley clearly was the winner. Richmond was forced to add a visor to his helmet when he returned to protect a swollen eye. ... The Hurricanes play three of their next four games on the road.

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