NHL Game Summary - NY Islanders at Carolina
(Friday, April 2nd)
Final Score: NY Islanders 6, Carolina 4
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Mariusz Czerkawski registered two goals and assisted on another as the New York Islanders clinched the final playoff spot in the East with an easy 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.
Czerkawski's linemates also had three points apiece with Alexei Yashin recording a goal and two assists while Oleg Kvasha had three helpers to eliminate Buffalo from playoff contention. New York, with 90 points, also received a pair of goals from Adrian Aucoin and a goal and an assist from Trent Hunter.
"I'm happy, but more important I'm happy for the 24 guys in that room," said Isles coach Steve Stirling. "Because they didn't need to hear from anybody that they backed in, or didn't get in. They needed to win their way in and they did. So I'm happy for them."
Rick DiPietro made 23 saves for the win, the second straight for the Isles, who now sit one point behind Montreal with just one game remaining. New York closes out its regular season at home against Philadelphia, while the Canadiens do battle with the Sabres on Saturday in their finale.
Jesse Boulerice scored twice for the Hurricanes, losers of three straight. Kevin Weekes stopped just 13-of-18 before giving way to Arturs Irbe late in the second.
The Isles jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals a minute apart just past the midway point of the first period.
Czerkawski struck first off a nice backhand feed from Yashin, one-timing the pass in the slot behind Weekes at the 11:57 mark for his 24th of the season.
Aucoin made a great play for the next goal as he jumped in front of a cross- ice pass just inside the blue line before firing a slapper at Weekes. The netminder stopped the initial shot, but had no chance after kicking the rebound right back to Aucoin.
Carolina cut the deficit in half less than two minutes later on Boulerice's tally. Boulerice blocked a shot by Michael Zigomanis off his skate and slid the puck past DiPietro, who was caught out of the net challenging the first attempt.
The Canes thought they had evened the score early in the second on a goal by Josef Vasicek, but it was disallowed as the referee blew the play dead thinking the puck was underneath DiPietro.
"That was tough," said Carolina coach Peter Laviolette. "That would have maybe changed the momentum. It went in their favor, and they just jumped on it from there. But we can't use that as an excuse for losing our assignment or missing a coverage, or turnovers."
New York really seized control from there, as Czerkawski netted the first of four second-period goals about a minute after for the Islanders. Again it was Yashin with a slick pass to the slot for Czerkawski's second of the night only 2:13 in.
Czerkawski returned the favor at 8:46 to help Yashin score one of his own on a great forehand deke. Hunter notched his 25th of the campaign in similar fashion just 44 ticks later, ending the day prematurely for Weekes.
Aucoin pushed the margin to 6-1 with his second tally of the night on a point shot with 5:48 to go in the second stanza.
Boulerice scored his second of the night 6:01 into the third frame and Rod Brind'Amour added a goal midway through for the Canes.
Erik Cole could have made narrowed the gap to 6-4, but he failed on a penalty shot with 5:46 remaining.
Eric Staal did just that, however, with a goal in the final minute, his 10th of the season, but it was all for naught for Carolina.
Hunter overtook Montreal's Michael Ryder for the league lead in goals among rookies with his 25th...Mattias Weinhandl dished out two assists...The loss for Carolina closed out a dreadful home slide as the Canes finished 3-11-3-1 in the last 18 games in their own building.
04/03 00:01:41 ET