Postseason, Here We Come!
Islanders 6, Hurricanes 4
By Kerry Gwydir
(April 2) Regardless of Buffalo's game Friday against Toronto or
Saturday's matchup vs. struggling Montreal, Steve Stirling's squad
had one thing to worry about on Friday. And that was a victory, which
they accomplished in a 6-4 win over Carolina.
After the morning skate, former Islander coach and current
Hurricanes' bench boss told the media "not in our house" regarding
the Isles' plans to clinch on Carolina's final home game of the
season. The Islanders have had to dodge several close-calls before
opening up a big second-period advantage.
Just 32 seconds into the night, Kenny Jonsson was tagged for
interfering with Erik Cole on an icing against the Hurricanes. It
gave the hosts ample opportunity to put a dent on the Islander
evening very quickly. Instead, the Islanders survived several close
calls, including one centering attempt that defenseman Allan Rourke
missed when the puck jumped over his stick in the slot.
teams then played a cautious 10-minutes of the first period, allowing
little room to generate offensive chances. Rick DiPietro, between the
Islander pipes again, had to be sharp when he robbed Justin Williams
of a point blank blast during an Islander powerplay 12 minutes in. It
turned out to be a big stop as the Isles went down and converted with
the extra man.
Czerkawski snapped home his 24th of the season by converting Alexei
Yashin's backhand feed on the doorstep at the 11:57 mark. Oleg
Kvasha, who retrieved a dump-in, and then slowed things down to start
the goal sequence before initiating a 2-on-1 down low, made the play.
a minute later, Adrian Aucoin converted a giveaway when Carolina
forward Ryan Bayda performed a cardinal hockey sin by trying to clear
his zone through the slot. Instead, the Islander defenseman knocked
the puck down and pumped a first shot on net. Weekes stopped that,
but with no one around, Aucoin fired the rebound into the top portion
of the net with 7:03 to go.
The scoring continued, but it was Carolina getting the goal with
their fourth line on the ice vs. the Yashin line. Two Islander
defensemen were caught to DiPietro's right, and that allowed Jesse
Boulerice to battle his way to the front of the net and slide a shot
under DiPietro with 5:41 left in the opener.
you wanted controversy, it happened a minute into the second when it
appeared Carolina's Cole had tied the game off a scramble in front.
DiPietro originally stopped an Eric Staal breakaway with his right
pad, and then was able to cover up on the rebound. At that point, the
puck was blown dead with Bayda chipping at the netminder before the
disc squirted out to Cole.
Like the first period, the Islanders found a way to answer
immediately after a golden Carolina opportunity that DiPietro
thwarted. Again, it was Czerkawski notching his second of the night
at the 2:13 mark for his 25th goal of the season. Again, Kvasha
started the play by absorbing a hit along the left wing boards and
finding Yashin cutting through the slot. The center quickly spotted
Czerkawski dangling behind the coverage unchecked, and took his time
to roof a shot over Weekes.
The Yashin line connected again nine minutes into the second, and it
was another nifty display of passing that led to the center's 14th of
the season. Kvasha, for the third time on the night, completed a
precise backhand feed to on-coming Czerkawski. The right wing
immediately led Yashin towards the Carolina net, and displayed plenty
of patience to pot a shot under the downed Hurricanes' netminder.
Less than a minute later, Trent Hunter padded the Islander lead to
four and drove Weekes from the net. Dave Scatchard warded off two
Carolina players to the right of the Hurricanes' net and found Hunter
cruising in front, who beat Rourke to the front of the net.
Less than 30 ticks later, the Islanders were tagged for a pair of
penalties, giving the hosts a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes. Aucoin,
Jonsson, Kvasha and Michael Peca did the job, and DiPietro faced just
one shot. But that one chance turned out to be a superb stop, a
deflected blast from Sean Hill that the Islander goaltender kicked
aside with his left pad. With the two extinguished penalties, the
Isles had warded-off 35 opposition powerplays in a row.
After Carolina's Williams missed a wide open rebound chance at one
end of the rink, Aucoin registered his second of the night with 5:48
left in the middle period. With Weinhandl stationed in front and
Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley hobbled because of a blocked shot
courtesy of Hunter, Aucoin flicked the puck towards the net where the
Carolina's Hill deflected the puck behind his own keeper.
Six minutes into the third the Hurricanes got back on the scoreboard
with an odd goal. The play started behind DiPietro's net when Justin
Williams fed the puck to Jesse Boulerice, who was set up at the
doorstep of the Isles' crease. Boulerice shot the puck wide right,
but it hit off the shin pad of Eric Cairns and found its way into the
back of the net as the Isles' lead was cut to 6-2.
The 'Canes didn't back down in this one as they registered their
third goal of the night with 9:50 remaining in the last frame. Craig
Adams dished the puck to Rod Brind'Amour from the corner to the left
of DiPietro and banked the rubber into the goal with his skate. The
play was reviewed, but the goal stood. Ward got the secondary assist
on the goal that made the score 6-3.
A few minutes later, Peca and Hill were sent off for cross-checking
and slashing, respectively, and the teams skated four aside. A few
moments after they were sent off, Carolina's Niclas Wallin was tagged
for holding, which gave the Isles a 4-on-3 powerplay. The Isles were
able to move the puck effectively with the man-advantage, but were
unable to convert.
At the 14:14 mark of the third, Carolina was given a penalty shot
when Jonsson tripped up Cole as he charged toward DiPietro's net. It
appeared that the Isles' defenseman touched the puck before the
skater, but the penalty was still called. Cole also appeared shaken
up after the play as his momentum took him hard into the boards
behind the net. Cole took the penalty shot, but missed wide left as
the Isles' maintained their three-goal edge.
With just 48.6 seconds remaining in the game, Eric Staal scored his
10th of the season as he cut across the grain and slipped the puck
The 'Canes pulled Irbe with less than 30 seconds remaining in the
game and DiPietro nearly netted his first career NHL goal. The final
seconds ticked off the clock and at the end of the night, the
scoreboard read 6-4, which means another playoff appearance for the
Blue and Orange.