Aho nets hat trick, Hurricanes beat Isles

Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho celebrates with Seth Jarvis after scoring one his three goals in Carolina’s 5-2 win Saturday over the Islanders in Elmont, New York. (Mary Altaffer / AP Photo)

NEW YORK — Sebastian Aho had three goals for his sixth career hat trick and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the slumping New York Islanders 5-2 on Saturday night.

Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast also scored to help the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes win for the fourth time in five games. Frederik Andersen made 25 saves.

“We were smart with the puck and made the right plays,” Staal said. “We have trust in our game.”

Andersen won his fourth straight game since returning from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss 29 games.

“Our big man in net has been playing well,” Staal added. “That’s very solid for us.”

Simon Holmstrom and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders. who have dropped eight of their last nine. Ilya Sorokin had 21 saves. The Islanders have scored just 15 goals in their last nine games.

Aho snapped a 2-2 tie with 3:20 left in the second period, tipping a pass from Teuvo Teravainen past Sorokin. Aho scored unassisted at 7:09 of the third to put the Hurricanes ahead by two and added an empty-net goal for his 17th to complete his second hat trick this season and sixth of his career with 22 seconds left.

Only three players in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history — Eric Staal, Ron Francis and Blaine Stoughton — have more career hat tricks than Aho.

Staal scored just 44 seconds into the game, his 12th, and Fast made it 2-0 at 3:52 after a pass from Staal for his sixth.

Fans at UBS Arena were then showering the Islanders with boos as coach Lane Lambert called a timeout. The unhappiness continued as the Islanders failed to score on a power play chance midway through the period.

“There isn’t one guy that doesn’t care. There isn’t one guy who isn’t putting in the effort,” Lambert said of the team’s struggling power play, which is 3 for 54 since Dec. 10. “We just have to find a way to execute. There’s no question that it’s hurt us.”

Holmstrom narrowed the deficit with just under six minutes remaining in the period with his second goal before Nelson tied it on a wraparound with 4:18 left in the first. The goal was Nelson’s 17th and his second in two games after a 14-game scoring drought.

The Hurricanes were coming off a 5-2 win over Minnesota on Thursday in which forward Max Pacioretty suffered a second tear of his right Achilles tendon. The 34-year-old Pacioretty had played only five games after he was acquired from Vegas before this season.

“Our group did went out there and did their jobs,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We come and work hard the same way.”

Carolina has won five straight games on Long Island and the Islanders are 2-6-2 in their last 10 home games against Hurricanes overall.

“They are a tough team to play. There’s not a lot of space,” Nelson said of the stingy Hurricanes. “It’s just a tough game.”

The Hurricanes play at Dallas on Wednesday night.