RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Joni Pitkanen is used to hearing Carolina Hurricanes fans at the RBC Center screaming at him to shoot the puck.
And Friday night at a very timely point in the game, he did just that and sent the crowd home happy.
Pitkanen scored his third goal of the season on an assist from rookie Jeff Skinner at 3:58 of overtime, giving the Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.
“Jeff made a nice play there, and I decided to shoot,” Pitkanen said. “I guess the other D man (Derek Joslin) screened a little bit and the goalie didn’t see it. We need those points.”
Erik Cole set up the extra period for the Hurricanes with a tying goal at 15:23 of the third.
Skinner’s 25th goal and the winning assist gave him an NHL rookie-leading 52 points.
The win ended a two-game home losing streak for the Hurricanes and put them in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 76 points. Eighth-place Buffalo also has 76 points and two games in hand.
“As a team, it’s really important that you can find a way to get to that desperation level,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “Then we found it, were able to change gears and good things started happening.”
Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders. Grabner’s goal, his fourth in seven games, was his NHL rookie-leading 29th.
Islanders goalie Al Montoya had 32 saves.
“Obviously Montoya gave us a chance to win,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “He made a couple of big saves. I thought Cam Ward was excellent tonight. He was the first star of the game.”
Carolina goalie Cam Ward stopped 34 shots.
“We’ve had a lot of good looks and played against some tough goaltenders who have played really well,” Ward said. “You have to have the confidence that you’re going to snap it in, and I think Joni had some confidence on that shot.”
Carolina scored first at even strength at 16:33 of the first, as Skinner received Jussi Jokinen’s passfrom the right circle and tipped it into the open left side of the net.
The celebration was short-lived, as Nielsen followed Grabner’s shot and slid the puck behind Ward from the left doorstep at 17:52.
The Islanders made it 2-1 at 3:10 of the second, as Grabner collected the rebound of a Travis Hamonicshot and flipped the puck backhand past Ward glove side. Cole got the equalizer, popping the puck over Montoya’s left shoulder for his 20th goal with Cory Stillmanon the assist.
“We’ve been getting a number of chances collectively the last couple of games, and we just haven’t been able to find a way to get one in,” Cole said. “It ends up being a shot you probably wouldn’t have expected to go in that ends up going in.”
NOTES: Skinner hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 25. Islanders LW Trevor Gilles served the seventh of his 10-game suspension. Hurricanes rookie D Jamie McBain (shoulder) missed his fourth straight game.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)