Cal Clutterbuck (15) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal Saturday night.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Cal Clutterbuck came up big in the clutch once again for the New York Islanders.
Clutterbuck scored a deflected goal with 13.8 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Islanders past the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Saturday night.
Clutterbuck had two goals, with his first tying it 30 seconds into the third period. In the past month, he also has two winning goals in the final 1:40 of regulation — the only player in the league with more than one of those all season. This one didn’t quite fit that criteria — but it was no less significant.
“He’s got such a good release, and he’s got a great shot, and he can score goals if you give him some time,” teammate Kyle Okposo said. “He’s been playing really well for us all year, scoring some big goals, and tonight was huge.”
Nikolay Kulemin had a goal and an assist and Okposo also scored for the Islanders, who have won two of three over a four-day span. Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner and Jeff McClement scored during a second-period flurry for the Hurricanes.
Jean-Francois Berube made 33 saves for New York while Eddie Lack stopped 27 shots for Carolina in a matchup of desperate Metropolitan Division teams.
Clutterbuck took a pass from Brock Nelson and unleashed an end-over-end shot from between the circles that clipped off rookie defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s chest and got past Lack.
“It’s hockey,” veteran forward Jordan Staal said. “Sometimes it goes that way,
and you never want that to happen, but the kid’s played great and he shouldn’t be too worried with that.” Clutterbuck admitted he didn’t “catch it flush, necessarily.
“It kind of rolled and I kind of pushed it out right,” he said. “I just kind of saw it landing behind the goalie — that’s all I really saw. … I was just trying to hit it and get it to the net somehow.”
The Hurricanes can’t afford to give any points away in their long-shot push for a playoff spot.
They’ve lost six of seven but have earned points in nine of 11 games since the trade deadline. They entered seven points behind Philadelphia for the final wild-card spot with two teams between them and have just seven games left.
“We’re in games, we’re right there,” Staal said. “Unfortunate endings. I thought we battled pretty hard, besides the first period. … Just didn’t come up with the two points.”
Those two points helped the Islanders cling to the first wild-card spot. They’re 3-5-2 since their win at Pittsburgh on March 8 in which goalie Jaroslav Halak suffered a lower-body injury that will keep him out for at least three more weeks.
“We’ve just got to keep winning games,” Okposo said. “We’re looking at this as a mini-playoff series. … We’ve got to win, so we’ve got to get points and that’s how we’re going to do it, we’ve got to get back to working and grinding it out.”
One night after allowing a season-high seven goals in a loss at Tampa Bay, the Islanders gave up three in a 7:02 span of the second to let a two-goal lead slip away. Clutterbuck made it 3-all 30 seconds into the third and Berube made sure it stayed that way by stopping two bang-bang shots with about 35 seconds to play.