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Isles fall 3-2 in OT to Canes

New York Islanders' John Tavares (91) has his

New York Islanders' John Tavares (91) has his shot bounce off the net behind Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C. (March 18, 2011) Credit: AP

 Dropping their third straight game and 24th one-goal loss of the season, the Islanders fell 3-2 in overtime to a desperate Carolina team at RBC Center Friday.

Joni Pitkanen's game-winner 3:58 in overtime helped the Canes make up the crucial two points that separated them from the idle Buffalo Sabres for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are now tied with 76 points apiece.

Carolina forced the extra period with Erik Cole's game-tying goal at 15:23 in the third. Corey Stillman snatched the puck from Frans Nielsen behind the net and set up Cole for the equalizer.

"Overall it was a good effort," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "When you have the veteran guys that they do and add that goaltender, it's dangerous team."

Cam Ward was outstanding in goal for the Hurricanes, making 35 stops to lead his team to a comeback victory.

Capuano said he thought Ward was "excellent."

"He got the first star and it was well deserved," he said of the opposing netminder.

Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner finished with a goal and an assist each. Stopped on two solo breakaways in the first period, Grabner backhanded a shot past Ward at 3:10 in the second for a 2-1 Islanders lead and his 29th of the season, good for best among all league rookies.

Fellow rookie of the year candidate Jeff Skinner made a strong case for the Calder as well. The 18-year-old finished with a goal and an assist. He leads rookies in total scoring with 26 goals and 26 assists for 52 points.

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