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Staal scores twice, Hurricanes beat Islanders

Eric Staal scored goals in a 1:38 span in the second period and also had an assist to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Zach Boychuk and Brandon Sutter also scored and Cam Ward made 23 saves for Hurricanes. Ninth in the Eastern Conference, Carolina has won three of its last four games.

Michael Grabner and Andrew MacDonald scored for New York.

Snow limited the announced attendance to 4,976, the second-smallest crowd at the Coliseum this season. Only 3,136 attended the Islanders' 4-1 win over Montreal on Dec. 26 because of a blizzard. The Islanders are last in the NHL in attendance, averaging 10,069.

Staal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead at 5:55 of the second, beating Rick DiPietro with a backhander from the left faceoff circle. The Carolina captain added his 25th goal of the season at 7:23, tipping Joe Corvo's point shot past DiPietro. In 25 games against the Islanders, Staal has 18 goals, eight assists and a plus-25 rating.

Sutter made it 4-1 on a breakaway with 4:55 left in the third.

It appeared Jussi Jokinen opened the scoring for Carolina a minute into the match, but a lengthy review showed the left wing used his stick to push DiPietro's pad across the goal line.

Boychuk scored with 5:17 left in the period, snapping a wrist shot over DiPietro's glove.

Grabner tied it 31 seconds into the second period with a backhander from the low slot. Grabner was alone in the slot as Hurricanes defensemen Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen followed Blake Comeau into the corner. Comeau snapped a perfect pass to Grabner and the Islanders' lone All-Star representative buried the feed.

NOTES: The game was the second of four between the Eastern Conference rivals. The Hurricanes beat the Islanders 7-2 in Raleigh on Nov. 3. ... DiPietro finished with 27 saves.