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Poti's OT goal gives Islanders' DiPietro first win in return

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Third-period meltdowns cost the New York
Islanders a chance at a fourth straight trip to the playoffs last
season.

A gut check against the Stanley Cup champions gave the Islanders
an early-season win they couldn't let slip away.

Rick DiPietro started slowly in his return from a groin injury,
but shook off the rust enough to backstop a 4-3 overtime victory
over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Tom Poti's power-play goal 23 seconds into overtime was the
difference, capping a rally after New York squandered a two-goal
advantage in the third.

"Last year, you can count how many games we lost blowing a
third-period lead," said DiPietro, who made 37 saves. "It was
somewhere between 12 and 15, and those lost points cost us a
playoff spot."

Poti, a defenseman who assisted on two other goals, snapped a
shot from inside the blue line that passed through a screen by Mike
Sillinger and found the net behind John Grahame.

It gave DiPietro his first win of the season following an 0-3
start and a four-game layoff.

Carolina suffered its second straight tough loss and concluded a
season-high, seven-game road trip with a 3-4 mark. The Hurricanes
took a while to find their legs following a fast-paced 5-4 defeat
at Buffalo on Friday night, but they nearly pulled this one out
with three third-period goals.

"One that we gave away, definitely," said Hurricanes forward
Justin Williams, who scored twice. At this point last year we found
ways to win these games."

After Jason Blake and Mike York staked the Islanders to a 2-0
lead, the Hurricanes stormed back to take the lead. Williams scored
short-handed and power-play goals 1:50 apart, and captain Rod
Brind'Amour made it 3-2 with 5:26 left in regulation.

Carolina seemed to get a spark after coach Peter Laviolette, the
former Islanders' bench boss, called a timeout 4:18 into the third
period.

But the Hurricanes couldn't keep the pressure on, and the lead
didn't stand up as Sillinger tied it for the Islanders with a
power-play goal at 16:50.

"It was pretty wild," DiPietro said. "We knew after they took
that timeout, they were going to come out flying. That
(short-handed) goal was kind of a momentum changer.

"Give Sillie credit. His goal gave us a boost of energy. It's
just nice to get the win and we absolutely needed the two points."

Sillinger's goal came during a two-man advantage. The Islanders
basically had four power-play goals as York scored just two seconds
after Kevyn Adams left the penalty box.

"We need to learn how to kill a penalty and execute," Williams
said. "We want to initiate and dictate the game and we didn't do
that for the first two periods. It was there for us to win."

DiPietro, playing at home in the regular season for the first
time since signing a 15-year deal with the Islanders, fought the
puck early on but regrouped in the final two periods. He couldn't
be faulted much for the Hurricanes' late uprising that nearly cost
New York a victory.

"Ricky played a great game," Sillinger said. "Our team showed
a lot of character. My job in the room is to create excitement when
we're down."

DiPietro hadn't played since yielding four goals on 40 in shots
at Los Angeles.

"It's funny when you're out for a week how fast the pace was. I
had to get used to that again," DiPietro said. "The defense did a
hell of a job in front of me clearing out other people."

While New York celebrated this win, Carolina defenseman Mike
Commodore watched in dismay from the penalty box. He looked up at
the scoreboard to see that 34 seconds still remained on his holding
infraction that decided the game.

"I had no clue. I didn't even know there was a penalty,"
Commodore said.

Grahame, a U.S. Olympic teammate of Blake and DiPietro at the
Turin Games, made his second start since joining Carolina in the
offseason.

Until the Islanders' rally he was enjoying a much better
performance than his Hurricanes debut when he allowed six goals on
31 shots in a 6-3 loss at Florida on Oct. 11.

He gave up four goals on 25 shots.

Game notes
Mike Dunham went 2-0-2 while filling in for DiPietro. ...
Hurricanes G Cam Ward, the MVP of last season's playoffs, served as
the backup after starting four straight games. He gave up all five
goals in Friday's loss at Buffalo.