UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — John Tavares took advantage of Carolina again, notching two goals and an assist in the Islanders’ 4-3 victory on Saturday night that completed New York’s four-game season sweep of the Hurricanes.
Kevin Poulin made 33 saves for the Islanders (25-25-8), who pulled within six points of eighth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The last time the Islanders had at least a .500 record after Feb. 1 was four years ago.
Tavares broke a 3-3 tie 38 seconds into the third when he knocked a rebound past goalie Justin Peters, who replaced starter Cam Ward to begin the period. It was Tavares’ 24th goal of the season and sixth against Carolina. He also has six assists versus the Hurricanes (22-26-11), who are tied with Buffalo at 55 points for last in the conference.
Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders. The 21-year-old Poulin was recalled from AHL Bridgeport this week to replace No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who is out with the flu. Poulin made two point-blank saves in the closing seconds to preserve his second win.
Since Tavares posted two goals and two assists in New York’s 5-2 win at Raleigh on Jan. 31, he had only two assists in eight games as the Islanders scored only 12 times.
Nielsen’s power-play goal gave New York a 3-2 lead 8:01 into the second period, but Carolina defenseman Jaroslav Spacek tied it with a shot from the point at 10:58.
Nielsen’s goal finished a slick passing sequence between him, Tavares and P.A. Parenteau, who tied his career high in points at 53 with two assists.
The Islanders also beat Carolina in Raleigh 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 3 and 2-1 in overtime in their previous game on Long Island on Jan. 21.
New York took the lead 2:07 in on Okposo’s 13th.
Brandon Sutter tied the game 1-1 at 13:47 of the first on a 2-on-1 break with Patrick Dwyer. It was the 13th goal of the season for the 23-year-old Sutter, the son of Calgary Flames coach and former Islanders forward Brent Sutter.
Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1 just 15 seconds into the second before Tavares scored on a picturesque sweep around Spacek at 4:10 for his first goal since Jan. 31.
The Hurricanes were 4-0-2 in their previous six games, including a 4-2 home win over San Jose on Friday.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal extended his point streak to eight games with an assist on Spacek’s goal. He has five goals and four assists during the spurt.
NOTES: The Hurricanes won all four meetings with the Islanders last season, outscoring New York 18-8. . Last season, the Islanders were 15-12-6 after the All-Star Break. They are 6-3-1 this season since the break. . The Hurricanes were without forwards Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu because of undisclosed upper body injuries, and D Joni Pitkanen (concussion). Ruutu leads Carolina with 17 goals. . The Islanders were missing defensemen Travis Hamonic (facial injuries), Dylan Reese (knee) and Mike Mottau (concussion). … New York improved to 10-2-1 in games that are tied after 40 minutes.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)