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Hurricanes handle Islanders for third win in row

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Jay McClement scored twice, Andrej Nestrasil had two assists, and Cam Ward made 21 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-3 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.

Justin Faulk, Brad Malone and Michal Jordan scored for the Hurricanes (24-30-7), who have won three in a row. Carolina went 2-for-5 on the power play.

"We had a good week obviously and a good back-to-back," coach Bill Peters said of his Hurricanes, who won 3-0 at home against the Washington Capitals on Friday. "I liked our effort in the back-to-back. It seems like we're more comfortable playing in that environment."

Michael Grabner, Nikolay Kulemin and John Tavares scored for the Islanders (41-21-2), who played their eighth game in 13 days. Goalie Chad Johnson started for the second time this week and made 36 saves.

"[Carolina] traveled and played [Friday] night, so there's no excuse," Tavares said. "As professionals, you've got to make sure you're ready to play and find a way to get the job done. We weren't even close tonight."

The Hurricanes had the first 10 shots on goal but Grabner gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 11:47 into the game when he took a pass from Ryan Strome, raced down the left wing past Jordan, and sent a wrist shot from the circle past Ward. It was Grabner's seventh goal of the season.

The Hurricanes tied it 1-1 with 2:19 left in the first period on McClement's fifth goal of the season. He battled against Islanders defenseman Brian Strait for the control of the puck, and it went off McClement's right skate and rolled past Johnson. The goal was ruled good after a brief video review determined there wasn't a distinct kicking motion.

"My first thought was it's probably not going to count," McClement said. "It always helps you when they call a goal on the ice. It's tough to turn over."

Faulk put the Hurricanes in front 2-1 1:26 into the second period with a power-play goal. Twenty-eight seconds after Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey was called for interference, Johnson made a pad save on a shot by Eric Staal, but the puck went to Faulk at the right circle, where he quickly put a wrist shot home for his 12th goal of the season.

McClement scored his second goal of the game at 9:50 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, McClement took a cross-ice feed from Nestrasil and beat Johnson with a wrist shot from the right circle to give the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead.

"That line was good," Peters said. "Chris Terry's been real good the last two games. He had a spell where he didn't play for a bunch and we were honest with him, we were telling him we want to get him in. He did a good job of working hard to stay ready made some subtle little plays. Two from [McClement], one from [Malone] … you need that to win in the National Hockey League on a consistent basis."

Kulemin got the Islanders within 3-2 with 4:49 left in the second. Kulemin took a pass from Cal Clutterbuck, worked his way around Faulk and sent a wrist shot past Ward for his 12th goal of the season. He had not scored since Jan. 19, a span of 18 games.

Carolina quickly restored the two-goal lead when Malone scored at 17:46. Nestrasil took a cross-ice pass from John-Michael Liles and sent a slap shot from the left circle that trickled through Johnson's five-hole. Malone poked it over the goal line for his sixth goal of the season and Nestrasil's fourth assist in the past two games.

"We have to skate against them," McClement said. "Get in their way, slow them down. We did a better job of that tonight, and the biggest difference was our specialty teams.

"We stuck with it. We were controlling play for the most part, didn't give them a whole lot."

Jordan made it 5-2 with 7.8 seconds left in the second on a power-play goal. With Strome in the box for high sticking, Jordan skated in from the blue line and poked home Jeff Skinner's feed from in front of the net for his second goal of the season.

"For whatever reason, certain guys didn't have some jump tonight," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Even though we didn't have that, as bad as we were, it's 3-2. It's right there. That Kulemin goal was huge for us. We had it going there, we had some chances. Two or three guys hit skates right in front on empty-netters in the second period to tie the game. It was just one of those nights."

The Islanders penalty kill finally came through in the third period when it did not allow a goal after Kael Mouillierat received a double minor for high-sticking Malone at 2:42.

Tavares scored his 30th goal of the season with 10:25 remaining. The Islanders captain positioned himself at the right side of the net and quickly put a rebound home after Ward made an initial save on Nick Leddy's slap shot from the point.

Hurricanes defenseman Jack Hillen, who was acquired from the Washington Capitals in a trade for Tim Gleason on Saturday morning, arrived at Nassau Coliseum about an hour before the game and was in the lineup for Carolina.

"He looked like he knows what he's doing," Peters said of Hillen, who played 17:18. "We're excited to have him and get a look at him here from now until the end of the year."

The Islanders begin a four-game road trip at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, one day after the NHL Trade Deadline. New York general manager Garth Snow is in a different position than he's been in years past with the Islanders battling for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The feeling is the Islanders will be quiet at the deadline, but Capuano said he expects to have some dialogue with management over the next 48 hours.

"He analyzes the game and sees what he needs to," Capuano said of Snow. "My conversation with him has always been that if he can do something that he thinks is going to help our hockey team, then he'll definitely look at it."


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