- The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first shootout victory of the season and completed a clean sweep of the season series with a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer tallied for the Canes in regulation, and Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner netted shootout goals. Dan Ellis made 36 saves plus another two in the shootout, back-stopping the team to its second straight victory. “We’re starting to find our identity, and that’s important going into next year,” Ellis said. “We’re playing for pride.”
- The first line trio of Eric Staal, Jiri Tlusty and Semin continued its domination of the Islanders tonight, tallying a combined three points. In three games against New York this season, they totaled 17 points (7g, 10a). Through 46 games this season, the line has combined for 129 points (52g, 77a). Each player also extended his point streak; Tlusty has points in six straight games, Semin in four straight games and Staal in three.
- The Canes ended their morning skate this morning with a shootout drill. Head coach Kirk Muller said he liked Nash’s moves in the drill, so he figured he’d give him a shot in a game. Nash scored and is a perfect one-for-one in career shootouts. “It wasn’t planned or anything,” Muller said. “If I didn’t see him do it this morning, I probably wouldn’t opt to do it, but he got the big goal.”
- Ellis has posted 71 saves on 76 shots over his last two games after serving as the back-up to Justin Peters for seven straight games. He was a perfect two-for-two in the shootout, stopping Frans Nielsen and Brad Boyes. “Elly was great all game, and he made some big stops in the shootout,” Skinner said.
- Muller experimented with Jeff Skinner centering the third line, flanked by Patrick Dwyer and Niclas Blanchard. The trio combined for nine of the team’s 32 shots. After going 0-for-5 in the faceoff dot in the opening frame, Skinner won four of his next seven to finish at 33 percent. “It’s a little bit of an adjustment getting used to it,” Skinner said of the position switch. “I think you touch the puck more as a centerman, and you have a little bit of a different role in the system we play.”
- The sweep of the Islanders in this year’s abbreviated season series is the third for the Hurricanes in the last five seasons (2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13).
- Arguably tonight’s most interesting statistic: The Islanders played a penalty-free game tonight, marking the first time a Carolina opponent has done so since Jan. 8, 2009, in a 4-2 Canes loss at Florida. The last time the Hurricanes did not have a power play in a game was Jan. 14, 2012, in a 4-2 win against Boston.
- The Hurricanes will play their final home game of the 2012-13 season on Thursday against the New York Rangers, who, like the Islanders, will come into the game fighting for their playoff life. Perhaps next season, the roles are reversed. “Everyone in this group knows that we have a playoff team, and it’s just a matter of finding the right pieces and going out and doing it,” Jordan Staal said.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The New York Islanders clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot despite a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
With the point they received by reaching overtime, coupled with a loss by the Winnipeg Jets at Washington, the Islanders secured a place in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
John Tavares tied it with 1:01 left in regulation. Josh Bailey and Brad Boyes also scored, and Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for the Islanders.
Nash and Skinner beat Nabokov with wrist shots in the shootout to help the Hurricanes sweep the Islanders and earn their first consecutive wins since March 9-12.
The Islanders earned a point for the 11th straight game. New York wiped out three one-goal deficits, and the last came in dramatic fashion.
Tavares made it 3-3 when his shot clicked off Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk's skate and past Ellis. The goal originally was awarded to Kyle Okposo, but after a review, he never touched the puck. Okposo finished with two assists.
Before that, the Hurricanes thought their third victory over the Islanders was firmly in hand.
Carolina went up 3-2 with 2:15 left in the second when Dwyer snapped a loose puck past Nabokov.
Staal and Semin also gave the Hurricanes short-lived leads. Staal made it 2-1 by scoring on a redirection with 3:40 left in the first, and Semin scored the first goal off a pretty give-and-go-feed from Eric Staal.
But Bailey and Boyes each erased those deficits. Bailey's goal came on a rebound and made it 2-2 at 7:34 of the second. Boyes forged the first tie at 6:04 of the first when Mark Streit's cross-ice pass clicked off his skate and past Ellis.
NOTES: New York C Keith Aucoin hit the crossbar on a breakaway about 4 1/2 minutes in. Michael Grabner struck the right post with about 3 minutes left in overtime. ... Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu drilled the right post against an open net with about 12 1/2 minutes left. ... Hurricanes C Jiri Tlusty, who assisted on Staal's goal, has points in six straight games.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.