Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin each had a goal and an assist, leading New York to a 4-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions and former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette on Wednesday night. “The biggest thing is that we came out hard,” Blake said. “We got sustained pressure right from the start, and we kept it up the whole night.”
Rick DiPietro stopped 13 shots for his seventh win this season. Shawn Bates and Miroslav Satan also scored for New York, which improved to 4-1-1 in its last six games.
Scott Walker and Trevor Letowski scored for Carolina, losers of two straight. John Grahame was busy in goal, stopping 45 shots one night after Carolina lost 4-0 to the New York Rangers.
Laviolette waited a long time to emerge from his office and talk to reporters. He was still seething.
“John Grahame was great. He kept us in the game,” Laviolette said. “I don’t think anybody (else) played well. This is unacceptable. This was a terrible game. After last night, I thought we would show more fight.”
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead 2:53 into the game when Bates finished off a 2-on-1 break by putting Richard Park’s cross-ice feed into the open net. The rush was set up by a great pass from Alexei Zhitnik.
“Richard Park made a great play to get me the puck in the right spot,” Bates said. “It was nice to get a goal early, and play a great period.”
The Islanders outshot Carolina 20-1 in the period, but Grahame was the sole reason the score was close. His first save was one of his best – he robbed Satan from the low slot on a point-blank shot 30 seconds into the game. The Hurricanes’ only shot came with 1:47 left in the period, on a 30-footer by Kevyn Adams.
“We’ve been struggling the first five minutes of the first period in most of our games,” Blake said. “The biggest thing about tonight, aside from the win, is that we got off to a great start.”
Carolina had six shots in the scoreless second period, while the Islanders fired 17 more at Grahame.
Islanders coach Ted Nolan wasn’t worried the shots were 37-7 and the score was only 1-0.
“We want to maintain our style of play, regardless of the score or shots,” Nolan said. “We don’t want to get too high or too low during the game. We just want to continue to play our game.”
Zhitnik set up another 2-on-1 break, which led to Yashin moving up left wing and crossing over to Blake, who waited for Grahame to go down before wristing a shot from the right circle into the net. The goal, Blake’s team-leading 12th, came at 5:59 and withstood a video review after the net was knocked off its moorings just after the puck went in.
Yashin made it 3-0 at 11:18 on a wraparound backhander.
“I think the biggest problem is that we weren’t working as a group of five,” Carolina defenceman Mike Commodore said. “We just couldn’t generate anything. And if it weren’t for Johnny’s play, it could have been 10-2.”
Walker ended DiPietro’s shutout bid six seconds into the Hurricanes’ fifth power play. Walker sent Rod Brind’Amour’s cross-ice feed into the open left side at 13:17 for his 10th goal.
Satan tallied an empty-net goal with 49.4 seconds left for a 4-1 lead. Letowski scored with 12 seconds to go.
Notes: It was the ninth time the Islanders held a team to one shot in a period. The last time was Oct. 10, 2002, at Buffalo. New York has never held a team without a shot in a period. It was the fourth time the Hurricanes were held to one shot in a period, and all four times it occurred in the first period. … The win evened the Islanders’ record at home against Carolina/Hartford to 21-21-4-1.