<
>

Isles blow two-goal lead against 'Canes

10/31/2002

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Sami Kapanen had a tough time enjoying
Carolina's run to the Stanley Cup finals. The five-time 20-goal
scorer was held to one goal in 23 postseason games.

And this season didn't start much better -- until Kapanen ran
into the New York Islanders.

Kapanen, Jeff O'Neill and Niclas Wallin scored during an
11½-minute stretch in the second period as the Hurricanes rallied
to beat New York 4-2 Wednesday night.

Kapanen scored his first two goals of the season last Tuesday in
a 4-1 win over the Islanders. Before breaking through, the right
wing had one goal over a 29-game span, including last year's
postseason.

''I am enjoying this right now,'' Kapanen said. ''There was a
point early in the season when I was frustrated with my game. I
didn't have that much confidence and I felt I was a little slow out
there.''

The Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 first-period deficit to win the
first of a nine-game homestand and improve to 4-1-1 in their last
six.

Meanwhile, the Islanders dropped their third straight to fall to
3-6-1 through 10 games. New York started 8-0-1-1 to open last
season.

''Games are slipping away, points are slipping away,'' said New
York coach Peter Laviolette, whose club is in last place in the
Atlantic Division with just seven points. ''The whole thing is
frustrating.''

O'Neill extended his NHL-best point streak to 10 straight games
with his fourth goal, which was set up by a beautiful rush by
Kapanen, while Kapanen's goal was his 16th against the Islanders --
the most against any team in his career.

''It seems like they are the team for me right now,'' Kapanen
said.

The goals by Kapanen and O'Neill were scored with Shawn Bates in
the penalty box, and Wallin's first of the season came 4-on-4 with
4:14 left in the second.

Rod Brind'Amour and David Tanabe had two assists each during
Carolina's scoring outburst, and Kevin Weekes improved to 4-0-1 in
his last five starts. Weekes won 2-1 at New Jersey on Tuesday
night.

''He has been big and strong,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said
of Weekes, who has taken over the No. 1 goalie spot from Arturs
Irbe. ''He really controlled the shots well late in the game.''

Brind'Amour added an empty-net goal with 26.3 seconds left to
seal it for Carolina.

Brind'Amour's goal was his team-leading seventh, but he was more
excited to talk about Kapanen's improved play.

''He's one of the most talented players we have and to see him
starting to go is a big plus for us,'' Brind'Amour said.

Bates and Justin Mapletoft scored power-play goals 7:03 into the
first to give the Islanders a quick 2-0 lead.

Bates put New York up less than 2 minutes in when Mark Parrish
got by Wallin to create a 2-on-0 down low against Weekes. Parrish
made a pass across the crease to a wide open Bates, who flipped a
high shot into the empty net for his second of the season.

Mapletoft scored his first NHL goal 6½ minutes later with Sean
Hill off for a four-minute high-sticking penalty.

Game notes
Only Buffalo averaged more penalty minutes heading into the
game than the Hurricanes and Islanders. ... Carolina C Josef
Vasicek missed his sixth straight game with what the team called a
back problem. ... The Islanders have outshot opponents 111-72 in
the first period. ... Roman Hamrlik extended his point streak to
four games with an assist on New York's first goal. ... The
Islanders didn't lose three in a row last season until early March.