Carolina fell behind, 3-0, before the game was 12 minutes old, but exploded for three goals in a 3:20 span of the third period to take the lead.
"I'm very proud of our guys," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. "It was a big difference in the way we played the last 47 minutes. Jeff O'Neill battled very well in front of the net and the fourth line made a difference with their contribution. (Kent) Manderville's play was an inspiration for us. He knows life on the fourth line."
Curtis Leschyshyn started the comeback with 5:57 to go in the first period, but O'Neill scored the only goal of the second and lifted the Hurricanes into a 3-3 deadlock 2:59 into the final frame.
Martin Gelinas gave Carolina its first lead just 80 seconds later. Defenseman David Harlock lost the puck at his own blue line and Gelinas got off a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Tommy Salo made the save but Gelinas got to the rebound and chipped it over the goaltender for his second goal of the season.
Manderville made it 5-3 two minutes later, taking advantage of another lapse by the Islanders. Joe Sacco misplayed the puck in the neutra zone and Manderville's wrist shot from the top of the slot beat Salo to the glove side.
"We played really poorly at the start, but we have a pretty fast club and late in the first period, things started going our way," Manderville said. "We kept coming and we just pulled back. It's a big emotional effort, coming back from 3-0. It's always tough to come back when you're down in the third period. If we stink out the joint tomorrow night, the win tonight means nothing."
Carolina's Trevor Kidd surrendered three goals on eight shots in the first period but was perfect the rest of the way and claimed his first win of the season.
The Islanders appeared on the way to their third straight win after building a 3-0 lead in the first period. Brewer, the fifth overall pick in the 1997 draft, scored his first NHL goal at 3:32. Mike Watt tallied six minutes later, getting the easy redirection off a pass from Ken Belanger.
Kenny Jonsson fired a slap shot from the top of the slot just under the crossbar for a power-play goal at 11:59.
"I think the three-goal lead was deceptive," Islanders coach Mike Milbury said. "It came far too easily. I thought they dominated play, showed good speed and they came at you with all four lines."
Leschyshyn got one back for Carolina just over two minutes later, shoveling a shot under the crossbar off Manderville's pass from behind the net.
O'Neill sliced the margin to 3-2 midway through second period. Moments after Kidd made a diving stick save on Claude Lapointe, Emerson threw a pass out front and O'Neill put it inside the left goalpost for his first goal since April 4th.
O'Neill tied it early in the third, deflecting a cross-ice pass from Roberts past Salo.
"I think the turnaround came on the big save on Lapointe's breakaway. I think that made a difference," Kidd said. "I was going after my first win and that's not the way you want to start. Give credit to a squad; we regrouped and plgged away and we played good defense. Hopefully, we'll get rolling. I'm pretty darn happy about getting the win. They showed a lot of confidence in me."
New York managed only three shots in the third period and was outshot for the game, 31-19.
"We needed a tourniquet of some kind and we couldn't even find a Band-Aid," Milbury said.
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