Islanders Leave Raleigh With Victory Over Former Coach
Posted January 24, 2004 2:19 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Not even halfway through the season, the New York Islanders are counting points.
Trent Hunter had a goal and two assists, and Rick DiPietro made 25 saves in the Islanders' 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
Michael Peca and Justin Papineau also scored to help the Islanders to their first road win in January.
New York's previous victory away from home came on Dec. 31 in a 6-1 defeat of Pittsburgh.
The Islanders came into the game in eighth place in the conference with 49 points, holding just a six-point lead over 12th-place Carolina.
The pressure to pick up points increased Friday. The New York Rangers acquired Jaromir Jagr in a trade with Washington, adding a scorer to a team that is just four points back of the Islanders.
"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 Carolina coach Peter 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 Ottawa.
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 Peter."
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."