They were more focused on picking up two points in the tight
Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Islanders came into the game in eighth place in the
conference with 49 points, holding just a six-point lead over
"We have no choice but to be desperate and play with a sense of
urgency," DiPietro said. "We're closing in on the All-Star break,
and these are huge points. As a team, we need to learn to win on
the road, and this was a good step for us."
It was the first game for Laviolette against his former team. He
led the Islanders to the playoffs in the 2001-02 and 2002-03
seasons, but was fired in June after the team's first-round loss to
At the time, Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said there
was a communication breakdown between the coach and the team. But
DiPietro and Hunter downplayed the matchup against Laviolette.
"I think the guys were pretty focused," Hunter said. "Them
being close to us in the playoffs was more of an issue than
Laviolette also had little to say about facing his former team.
"It's just business," he said. "It's just disappointing not
to get the points."
Sean Hill had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Justin Williams, acquired from Philadelphia on Tuesday, added a power-play goal in the third period. Ron Francis assisted on Williams' goal and played in his 1,700th NHL game.
Peca put the Islanders ahead to stay, beating Kevin Weekes with
a low shot for a 2-1 lead at 3:15 of the second period.
Hunter then pushed it to a two-goal lead late in the period. He
faked a shot from the left side, then fired the puck between
defenders Bruno St. Jacques and Bob Boughner. The shot beat Weekes
with 51 seconds left, capping a three-point night for Hunter.
Williams' power-play goal at 3:22 of the third cut the deficit
to 3-2, but the Hurricanes got no closer.
"That's a plus individually, but team-wise, we came up on the
short end," Williams said. "I thought we battled hard. ... [There
were] too many mistakes, and they capitalized on them."
New York struck first on a power play after a holding penalty on
St. Jacques. Hunter sent a pass from the left side to Papineau, who
cut in behind Bret Hedican and slipped the puck past Weekes at 3:32
of the period.
Carolina got off to a slow start, managing just one shot in the
first 10 minutes. But the Hurricanes tied it on Hill's fourth goal
of the season with 4:30 left in the period.
Islanders center Jason Blake assisted on Peca's goal,
giving him points in 11 of his last 16 games. ... New York has won
three of its last four games. ... Hunter now has 16 goals and 16
assists. ... Williams has points in each of his last two games,
getting an assist in a 2-1 win against New Jersey on Wednesday. ...
Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour left the game about 12 minutes in
because of a right groin strain. He did not return. ... Carolina
has an NHL-low 91 goals.