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Bounces go Hurricanes' way in win over Islanders

The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Carolina Hurricanes' first goal Monday night glanced off the skate of infrequent contributor Tim Wallace. The Hurricanes took the lead for the first time on their fourth goal, which was actually an "own" goal by the New York Islanders.

And the Hurricanes' fifth goal, which proved to be the winner, happened in such a confusing flurry in the crease that even after the game the Hurricanes weren't actually sure whether it was scored by Eric Staal, who was credited with it after the puck ticked off his skate or Jiri Tlusty, whose stick deflected Jay Harrison's slap shot.

Lucky goals? Maybe. But the surging Hurricanes and reeling Islanders were in agreement that Carolina earned its good fortune in a come-from-behind 6-4 win at Nassau Coliseum.

The Hurricanes were outshot 12-6 in the first period but gradually took control and wore down the Islanders in the final 40 minutes. The Hurricanes outshot the Islanders 24-16 in the last two periods and had an 11-4 edge during a four-goal third period.

"We really worked hard the first two periods and then even put the level a little higher in the third period," Tlusty said.

Staal said, "I think we deserved all of (the lucky goals). I thought we really took it to them as the game went on, especially in the third period. If you're going to continue to be aggressive and be on the forecheck and be pushing their defense and causing turnovers, you should get rewarded. And we did tonight."

The win continued a rewarding road trip for the Hurricanes (6-4-1), who improved to 3-1-1 on their six-game trek and moved past the idle Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Southeast Division. That amounted to a six-spot leap in the Eastern Conference standings for Carolina, which began Monday in a four-way tie for ninth place overall.

"It's a huge part of our season," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Tonight might have been our best game of the whole road trip. Just keep finding ways to win right now."

Tlusty scored two goals, including an empty netter with 10.3 seconds left, for the Hurricanes, who never trailed after they took a 4-3 lead on the Islanders' own goal that was credited to Alexander Semin 5:33 into the third period. Semin had fired the puck across the ice, but it glanced off the upper body of Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic and past Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro.

Jeff Skinner also scored for the Hurricanes, who got on the board when Jamie McBain's slap shot off a loose puck caught part of Wallace's skate and trickled into the net with 6:18 left in the first period. A review upheld the goal, which was Wallace's fourth goal in 77 career games and his first since last March 24, when he scored for the Lightning against the Islanders

"Alex's goal and a few tip-ins -- that's what happens when you continue to pursue and push," Staal said. "And it got better as [the game] went on."

The Islanders (4-7-1) went 4 of 5 on the power play but still lost their fifth in a row and fell to 1-5 during an eight-game stretch in which they play entirely in New York or New Jersey. Matt Moulson scored twice for New York, and Frans Nielsen and John Tavares scored once each.

"The harder you work, the luckier you get -- I've always said that," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We can't get frustrated. You can't get down on one another."

The flukish series of Hurricanes goals seemed to symbolize the recent fortunes of Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, who had 25 saves in just his second start of the year. He played just 47 out of a possible 328 games the previous four years because of a litany of injuries, including a sports hernia, facial fractures and multiple knee ailments.

The Islanders, who hadn't scored on their last 22 power plays entering the game, took leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but could not make a comeback after Moulson's backhand goal in the crease with 8:28 left. Brad Boyes fired a shot far right of Cam Ward with less than a minute left.

Ward had 24 saves for the Hurricanes.

NOTES: The Islanders' previous power-play goal came on Boyes' winner in overtime against the Devils on Jan. 31. ... The Islanders entered Monday with a four-game winning streak against the Hurricanes thanks to a sweep of last year's season series. The four straight wins were the most by the Islanders against the Carolina franchise since they won four straight over the Hartford Whalers from Feb. 14, 1982, through Jan. 18, 1983. ... The Hurricanes played the fifth game of a season-long six-game road trip Monday. It also marked the beginning of the second of their eight back-to-back games. They'll visit the Devils on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes also will visit the Islanders for the second game of their next back-to-back set Feb. 23-24.

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