UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- In a 45-second span Sunday night, the Carolina Hurricanes regained the momentum they were beginning to worry was gone for good, while the New York Islanders lost yet another chance to generate the type of positive energy that has eluded them during five consecutive last-place seasons.
The Hurricanes scored two quick goals to tie the game late in the second period, and Bobby Sanguinetti's goal with 9:43 left in the third broke the deadlock and lifted the Hurricanes to a pivotal 4-2 win over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Eric Staal and Jordan Staal scored in rapid succession late in the second for the Hurricanes, who were outshot 14-4 in the period and went almost 15 minutes with a shot before the brothers tied the game. Carolina's Alexander Semin added an empty-netter with 30 seconds left.
"We're coming off a disappointing loss last night, a big game against Tampa, we weren't feeling great about ourselves," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Our leaders came in tonight, they weren't happy and they stuck with it. They battled and found a way to win a big game for us."
With the come-from-behind win, the Hurricanes (9-7-1) snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning and into a tie for eighth place overall in the East. The Hurricanes had fallen out of first -- and out of the playoff picture -- with a 5-2 loss to the Lightning on Saturday.
"It's almost playoff hockey at this point," Sanguinetti said. "One game can change the outcome of your season. We've just got to make sure, every night, we're ready."
Matt Moulson and John Tavares scored in the first period for the Islanders (8-10-1), who would have moved into a tie for eighth place in the East with a win. Instead, the Islanders failed for the fourth time in as many tries this season to extend a two-game winning streak. They opened a seven-game homestand in inauspicious fashion.
The homestand is the longest for the Islanders since 2006-07 -- the last year in which they made the playoffs -- but New York is an NHL-worst 2-7-0 at Nassau Coliseum.
"It's frustrating," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "You play well on the road, you come here in front of your fans that are passionate and want to see good hockey. It's unacceptable."
Mark Streit had the best chance to tie it late for the Islanders, but his slap shot was gloved by Carolina goalie Cam Ward with about two minutes left.
The Islanders maximized their offensive opportunities in the first period, when they were outshot 14-5 yet went into intermission with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Moulson and Tavares.
Moulson's put-back of his own rebound gave New York a 1-0 lead just 4:38 into the game. A little less than eight minutes later, Tavares picked up a loose puck at mid-ice and raced up the left wing, faked a pass and beat Ward in the upper right corner of the net.
The Hurricanes began their tying rally in the second with a power-play goal. A faceoff between Eric Staal and Michael Grabner following a penalty on the Islanders skipped to Semin, whose slap shot glanced off Poulin and back to Eric Staal, who poked it past goalie Kevin Poulin with 1:32 left in the period.
The Hurricanes quickly got the equalizer when Jordan Staal's slap shot from beyond the faceoff circles flew between Lubomir Visnovsky's legs and past Poulin with 47 seconds left in the middle period.
"When you get the power play going, you get some momentum," Jordan Staal said. "And it's nice to be able to get one right. (To) go into the third tied on the road is always a good thing."
Hurricanes winger Patrick Dwyer set up Sanguinetti's game-winning goal by picking up a loose puck along the boards in the Islanders' zone and skating up the left side of the ice. He fired the puck across the ice, past the Islanders' Brad Boyes and right to Sanguinetti, who beat Poulin over the right shoulder.
"We felt pretty confident going into the third that we could find a way to win the game if we stuck with what we're doing," Jordan Staal said.
Ward had 23 saves for the Hurricanes, while Poulin had 24 saves in his season debut for the Islanders. He was recalled from AHL Bridgeport on Saturday to replace Rick DiPietro, the oft-maligned backup to starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
NOTES: Poulin's start for the Islanders was his first in the NHL since Feb. 21, 2012, when the Islanders fell 2-1 to the Buffalo Sabres. ... DiPietro cleared waivers Saturday and reported to Bridgeport, but he did not play for the Sound Tigers in their 2-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. ... The Islanders had two seven-game homestands during the 2006-07 season. They went 4-1-2 from Oct. 14-31, 2006, and 5-1-1 from Feb. 15-March 1, 2007. ... Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner missed his fourth straight game with a concussion. The other Carolina scratches were defenseman Jamie McBain and center Jeremy Welsh. The Islanders scratched wingers Eric Boulton and David Ullstrom and defenseman Joe Finley. ... The Hurricanes are 0-4-0 in division games. They are the only team in the NHL that is winless against its division this season.