The Islanders struck quickly with four goals in the first 10:54 of the game -- chasing Hurricanes starting goaltender Cam Ward in the process -- then were outscored 4-1 the rest of the way.
But they escaped to win their second straight game for the first time since beating the Flyers and Rangers on Jan. 20 and 21.
Cal Clutterbuck also scored, McDonald added an assist and Anders Nilsson had 24 saves for the Islanders, who were coming off Sunday's 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets.
Ward was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots in the first 6:12 of the game and Anton Khudobin made 21 saves on 23 shots after that.
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