Rod Brind’Amour had a goal and two assists and the Hurricanes scored four power-play goals in a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night. “The power play has gotten lots of looks in the last two games and hasn’t been rewarded, so it’s nice to get a bounce and a break,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “There were a lot of good looks out there, good puck movement, starting to get comfort with both units.
“So there’s been a lot of positive signs the last few games and tonight you got to reap some of the rewards of that.”
Justin Williams scored his fifth goal in a five-game span for Carolina – which outshot New York 35-25, matched a season high with its third straight victory and beat the Islanders for the first time in three meetings this season.
“I thought we controlled the game from start to finish,” Williams said.
Erik Cole, Eric Belanger and Scott Walker also scored, while Cory Stillman had three assists. Stillman has six assists in five games since he sat out 31 games after off-season shoulder surgery.
“Maybe I’m a little rested compared to everyone else, and it will pay off in the long run,” Stillman said.
Stillman appears to have jump-started a power-play unit that had been among the league’s worst. Carolina, which entered ranked 26th in the league with the man advantage, went 4-of-9 against the Islanders’ 24th-ranked penalty-kill.
It was the Hurricanes’ most productive performance on the power play since they scored five goals with the man advantage against Detroit on Nov. 29, 2002.
“It’s a strange power play. Some nights, you’re not doing anything different – the puck just took the bounces,” Brind’Amour said. “We had a few rebounds go in, and things happened that hadn’t happened in other games.
“We get a few of those, and the game’s over right there.”
Cam Ward stopped 24 shots in his third consecutive win for Carolina.
“With my position, consistency is the biggest thing and I’ve got to do a better job of being on top of my game night in and night out,” Ward said.
Chris Simon scored for the Islanders, whose two-game winning streak was snapped. Rick DiPietro made 30 saves but was victimized throughout by long rebounds. He said his team had trouble getting motivated after their win three days earlier against the Rangers.
“We can’t have a letdown,” DiPietro said. “We had to follow it up with a big win, or at least a hard-fought effort.
“It’s a terrible excuse to lose a game. We can’t win one and then lose one because you’re drained emotionally.”
Brind’Amour put the Hurricanes ahead for good about four minutes into the game when he scored with a 5-on-3 advantage, gathering the rebound of his own shot near the goal and snapping the puck past a diving DiPietro for his 11th goal of the season.
Williams added a power-play goal later in the first. Whitney’s hard shot bounced off DiPietro’s pads, over Shawn Bates’ shoulder and into the left circle directly to Williams, who wristed the puck high past DiPietro to give him at least one point in his sixth straight game.
“His skill level is becoming really clear and evident, that he is an elite skill player in the (NHL),” Laviolette said. “You’ll never see him mixed in with the big names . . . but as far as his skill level, it’s really evolved for me this year.”
Cole made it 3-0 early in the second period when he took the rebound of Stillman’s shot in the slot and snapped it past DiPietro. Belanger added a power-play goal about four minutes later when he wristed a shot past DiPietro from the right circle.
Walker put the Hurricanes up 5-0 early in the third. DiPietro broke his stick when he played the puck, Stillman intercepted it and set up Walker’s snap shot from the slot.
Simon tipped a shot past Ward with about 12 minutes remaining for New York’s only goal.
“Every team in the league has bad games, and we certainly had an off one tonight,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “After the first period, we dug ourselves a hole and we just couldn’t find a way to dig ourselves out.”
Notes: Alexei Yashin, who assisted on Simon’s goal, was held without a goal for the first time since he returned from a knee injury Dec. 13 . . . Carolina improved to 13-0 when leading after the first period . . . Newly re-acquired New York C Randy Robitaille faced Carolina for the second straight game. He played for Philadelphia on Tuesday in the Flyers’ 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes, then a day later was traded to the Islanders, the team with whom he finished the 2002-03 season . . . Islanders D Brendan Witt was in a pair of fights. He traded punches with Walker during the first period, then fought Mike Commodore early in the third.