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Peters, Hurricanes blank struggling Islanders

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Justin Peters has found his way into the net for the Carolina Hurricanes in each of the past five seasons, and not always in ideal circumstances.

Most of the time, he has been a call-up, joining the Hurricanes when injuries occur. Sometimes the conditions haven't been the best, and often the work has been sporadic. But he showed his teammates Thursday that he can handle the job.

Peters stopped 21 shots and pitched a 1-0 shutout against the New York Islanders, making Radek Dvorak's first-period goal stand up for the victory. The Hurricanes have won two straight after snapping a five-game losing streak.

"I feel confident and I feel really confident in this team and the trust we have in each other," said Peters, who has played seven straight games after being recalled from Charlotte of the American Hockey League following injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin. "I feel that's been building for a while. It's nice for the guys to get rewarded with the hard work they've been doing."

Peters took the loss in all five games of the losing streak, although he played well aside from a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers. He has allowed just one goal in the two victories, including a 2-1 overtime decision against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

"He's given us an opportunity to win these last two games," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "We'd like to score more than one or two, but there's nights you don't have to. He's given us the confidence to just go out and play our game the way we want to play it."

Confidence is the key word for Peters. He has had some difficult nights during his 54 NHL appearances. Sometimes he has paid the price for being overly aggressive; other nights he has faced a lot of tough shots and taken a tough loss.

But Thursday night, his effort was plenty good enough. He stopped Michael Grabner on a breakaway in the second period, then gloved a bullet from John Tavares late in the third to help preserve the win. If there was anything to knock about Peters' game, it was his rebound control. But his teammates were there to clean those up.

"I was bunting a few out there for sure," said Peters, who has three career shutouts. "There were some big blocks, some great plays by the defense and the forwards coming back to help. That helps a lot."

It also helps to get a lead, an advantage that has eluded the Hurricanes in 12 of 16 games this season.

"It was almost unusual that we got that first one," center Jordan Staal said. "It was a good feeling and it looked like we felt comfortable playing with the lead as well."

The Hurricanes scored the game's lone goal 6:39 into the first period when defenseman Ron Hainsey lifted a wrist shot from the blue line that hit Dvorak and went past goaltender Kevin Poulin. The change-of-direction goal was the third of the season for Dvorak. It also marked the first stoppage of play in the game.

"As soon as Hainsey got the puck on the blue line, everything kind of opened up," Dvorak said. "I just tried to get in position and battle for the puck. I saw it coming, so I tried to open up and it hit me. Luckily it went in."

While they had several good early looks at the Carolina net, they missed the target 10 times and had six attempts blocked before recording their first shot on goal. For the night, New York had 23 missed shots and another 13 that were blocked.

"We had 19 missed shots after two periods," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's obviously something we have to work on. We have to hit the net and make second and third opportunities. We didn't do that."

Poulin, making his fourth start, made 23 saves.

"He made the big save when he needed to," Capuano said. "Kevin battled for us. That's what he does and he deserved to win the hockey game. We just have to find the back of the net when we get the opportunity."

The same can still be said for the Hurricanes. Although they have won two straight, they have scored just five goals in their last five games.

"We're not going to win many games 1-0 throughout the rest of the year," Staal said. "Good teams find ways to win, but we need to find ways to score more goals. Tonight wasn't that night, but we can definitely move forward on the offensive side of the puck."

Muller expressed the same sentiment, but he found value in winning a low-scoring contest.

"Some of these guys are going to break out of it, and one of these nights it will happen," Muller said. "Until that does happen, we've got to stay the course playing well defensively and playing with confidence that we can win a 1-0 win. That's a pretty good feeling as a team to know you can play that kind of hockey."

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