RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—Once the Hurricanes finally scored on home ice, they couldn't stop.
Rookie Jon Matsumoto netted his first two NHL goals and Sergei Samsonov added three assists as the Hurricanes overwhelmed the New York Islanders 7-2 in a tilt that lacked drama but nonetheless thrilled the sparse RBC Center crowd that had seen the home team shut out in their first two games in Raleigh.
The Islanders, losers of five straight, were just what the doctor ordered, spinning like pills out of a prescription bottle as Canes defensemen consistently sent forwards streaking into the New York zone with a crisp transition game that had been lacking in the earlier losses to Washington and Pittsburgh.
Matsumoto's big night was made possible by wingers Samsonov and Tom Kostopoulos, whose decisive centering passes kept the Isles off balance all night. Several other new line combinations clicked for the Canes, as Jeff Skinner moved to Eric Staal's wing, resulting in a goal for each of them, and Brandon Sutter centered Jiri Tlusty and Patrick Dwyer in an quick, muscular checking line that also accounted for a pair of scores.
The Islanders, however, might not have been able to beat the mighty mite youth leaguers who scampered around the ice during the first intermission. Snipers John Tavares and Matt Moulson were unnoticeable, the lauded Tavares appearing reluctant to enter his team's defensive zone after the first period. And goaltender Rick DiPietro couldn't have stopped the Canes if they had been shooting pizza pans. On his flub of a gentle Tlusty shot midway through the second period, DiPietro resembled a celebrity chef placing a marzipan ornament atop a cake tier as he gingerly nudged the puck onto Sutter's stick for the Canes' fourth goal.
Carolina even improved in the faceoff circle, where they have run dead last in the league thus far this season. After having allowed two Philadelphia Flyer goals directly off faceoff losses in their own zone in a loss on Monday night, the Canes figured out the Islanders as the game went on. Both Matsumoto and Sutter won more than half of their draws.
Next up for the Canes are a pair of games with the Florida Panthers, another team struggling at the bottom of the standings. There should be more goals left in those Carolina sticks this weekend.