As time wound down in the extra session, Jeff Skinner gained control of the puck near the goal line, then dished back to the point. Pitkanen stepped into his shot, which zipped over Al Montoya’s glove and hit the net just below the crossbar on the far side.
“I think that Jeff made a nice play there, and I decided to shoot,” Pitkanen admitted. “I guess the other defenseman screened a little bit and the goalie didn’t see it. We need those points.”
Skinner and Erik Cole tallied in regulation for the Hurricanes, who won for just the second time in their last seven and kept their hopes alive for a playoff berth.
Cam Ward made 35 stops for Carolina, which pulled into a tie for eighth with idle Buffalo. Both teams have 76 points.
“Montoya gave us a chance to win,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “He made some big saves. I thought Ward was excellent tonight.”
Skinner and Nielsen tallied 1:19 apart late in the first period for a tie after 20 minutes of action.
The Isles then moved ahead at 3:10 of the second period. Nielsen won a left- circle draw back to Travis Hamonic, whose shot hit the back of Grabner’s skate. The Austrian rookie gathered the puck and beat Ward with a backhander from the right side for his 29th goal of the season.
Carolina continued to press throughout the third, and finally tied the game with 4:37 left when Cory Stillman worked a loose puck free and hit Cole for a successful wrister.
Carolina has won all three meetings with the Islanders this season and nine of the last 11 since the start of the 2008-09 campaign…New York has dropped nine of its last 12 in Raleigh…The Hurricanes host Ottawa on Tuesday and the Islanders continue their five-game road trip at Florida on Saturday.