Erik Cole scores two goals and the Hurricanes defeat the Islanders 4-2

Erik Cole scored two goals and Carolina scored twice on the power play in a 4-2 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night.

“The way they kill works out best for our power play or for our personnel,” Cole said. “We’ve also gotten some fortunate bounces on the power play.”

Justin Williams had his team-leading 20th goal and an assist, and Eric Staal scored his first goal in 10 games for the Hurricanes, who were shut out in their previous two games.

Carolina scored its first three goals in a four-minute, 29-second span and sent the Islanders to their season-worst sixth straight loss.

“We’re passing when we should be shooting and shooting when we should be passing,” New York centre Mike Sillinger said.

Trent Hunter and Miroslav Satan scored for New York, which held a 35-27 shots advantage.

Cam Ward made 33 saves in earning his 19th victory, and Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman each had two assists for the Hurricanes, who had lost four of five.

“Maybe it was the luck of the draw that we were playing them – we had been struggling the past (few) games, and were due for a breakout, and they just happened to be the team,” Ward said. “We were ready from the drop of the puck. It didn’t matter what team it was going to be.”

Rick DiPietro stopped 23 shots in his 15th loss and was under siege for the second time in 15 days at the RBC Center. The Hurricanes scored four power-play goals in a 5-1 rout of the Islanders in their previous meeting on Dec. 22.

“We’re definitely struggling. There’s no question about that,” DiPietro said.

This time, Carolina scored twice on six chances with the man advantage. Williams got things started with a power-play goal, scored with a fraction of a second left in the first period.

Stillman’s pass clicked off the skate of Islanders defenceman Sean Hill. The puck went toward the net, and Williams backhanded it past DiPietro. The goal was upheld after replay officials determined there were 0.8 seconds remaining when the puck crossed the line.

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“We haven’t had the lead. We haven’t scored goals lately. We haven’t won a period lately,” said Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette, who used to coach the Islanders. “To get that one and go in with the lead was a good thing.”

That ended the Hurricanes’ scoreless stretch of 151 minutes, 45 seconds that started midway through the third period of their Dec. 31 loss to Philadelphia and included shutout losses to Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

“You could tell that it kind of relieved everybody, including the building,” Ward said.

Cole entered with one goal in six games, but scored twice in the opening minutes of the second period.

He made it 2-0 37 seconds into the middle period when he took a pass in the slot from Ray Whitney and beat DiPietro with a short backhand.

“Maybe when you’re pressing so hard when things don’t go in, then when things do go in, everyone kind of starts rocking back and forth on the bench and everyone kind of gets that feeling back,” Cole said. “We were generating scoring chances from the start.”

New York pulled within 2-1, but Cole restored the Hurricanes’ two-goal lead by tapping a rebound of Stillman’s one-timer past DiPietro at 4:28 while Carolina had a 5-on-3 advantage.

Moments earlier, Hunter cut the Islanders’ deficit in half by tapping a rebound past Ward.

Staal scored from the slot with 5:20 left in the third, his first goal since Dec. 16 against Tampa Bay and just his second since netting two on Dec. 2 against Boston. Satan scored with about 2 minutes left for New York.

The teams split the season series 2-2, with each team winning twice at home.

Notes: Hunter and Sillinger have points in three straight games for New York. … The Hurricanes sent LW Ryan Bayda to AHL Albany. Bayda was an emergency call-up on Thursday. … C Shawn Bates (hand) was scratched for the Islanders. … Carolina D Glen Wesley was scratched with a lower-body injury. … Stillman returned after missing one game with an upper-body injury. C Kevyn Adams (wrist and staph infection) also returned for Carolina.