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Tavares scores in OT, lifts Islanders over Hurricanes 3-2

New York Islanders' Stephen Gionta, right, and Carolina Hurricanes' Jaccob Slavin chase the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The New York Islanders were in danger of losing what their interim coach called a must-win game — until they came up with two rapid-fire goals, then set up their captain for the winner.

John Tavares scored 34 seconds into overtime, and the Islanders beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Joshua Ho-Sang and Jason Chimera scored in the final 65 seconds of the second period to help the Islanders erase a 2-0 deficit and eventually claim a game they couldn't afford to lose.

"We definitely got better as the game went on," interim coach Doug Weight said.

Tavares' winner was set up by Ho-Sang's takeaway at center ice. Ho-Sang brought the puck across the blue line and fed a drop pass to Tavares, who snapped it past a screened Cam Ward.

"I just tried to pick a corner — didn't think he was set," Tavares said.

Joakim Nordstrom and Elias Lindholm scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost three of five but earned points in four straight. Coach Bill Peters said Tavares' goal was the result of a missed assignment, with Victor Rask picking up Ho-Sang instead of leaving him for defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

"But the way it unfolded, we picked up the wrong guy, they made a drop pass and then we get duplication and we're screening the goalie," Peters said. "We turned it over 13 times. We looked like the Globetrotters there for a while."

The goaltending was much better on both sides than it was one night earlier during Carolina's 8-4 victory in Brooklyn. Thomas Greiss made 30 saves a night after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief. Ward, who also gave up four goals in that game, made 31 saves for Carolina.

"Every time you get lit up or you don't have the best game, you want to get back out there right away," Greiss said.

After that loss Monday night, Weight called this "the biggest game of the year" for the Islanders because "it's going to dictate a lot of what's going to happen the next month." They are tied with Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Toronto

And after a slow start, the Islanders rallied with that second-period flurry when Ho-Sang scored with 1:05 left and Chimera tied it at 2 with 39.3 seconds remaining. Both goals came from the circle to Ward's right.

"Those are huge, especially in the last minute of the second period, to get the goals," Chimera said. "Going in 2-2 is a lot different than going in down 2-1."

That came after Nordstrom took a pass from Lee Stempniak and snapped the puck past Greiss from the circle with 7:30 left in the first to put Carolina up 1-0.

"When you lose 8-4, we were in the playoffs and now we're out, on the outside looking in ... that goal, it could have been a killer," Weight said. "It took a little air out of us, for sure."

Lindholm put the Hurricanes up by two goals with a breakaway score 40 seconds into the second, set up by Nick Leddy's whiff at the blue line.

NOTES: Carolina C Lucas Wallmark, who assisted on Nordstrom's goal, earned his first NHL point. ... Hurricanes C Jay McClement left in the second period with a lower-body injury. ... Islanders C Alan Quine, back in the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury, rang a shot off the crossbar about six minutes in. Tavares hit the left post on a power play late in the second.

UP NEXT

Islanders: Play just their second home game since Feb. 19 on Thursday night when Winnipeg visits.

Hurricanes: Play host to Western Conference leader Minnesota on Thursday night, when former Carolina captain Eric Staal returns to Raleigh with the Wild.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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