The Metropolitan Division road trip in the Northeast concluded Saturday night with the Carolina Hurricanes on Long Island to face the New York Islanders. After a tough loss to the Rangers on Thursday night, the Canes needed to have short-term memories to face one of the most stout defensive teams in the league, backstopped by one of the best goalies on the planet.
Before the Hurricanes took the ice for warm-ups, it was announced that Michael Bunting would miss the game for a personal matter, inserting Brendan Lemieux into the lineup. In the net, Antti Raanta would start for the first time since his shutout win against San Jose last Friday night. On the other end, last season’s Vezina runner-up Ilya Sorokin would lead the Islanders.
Both goalies had to be on their toes to begin the game. Antti Raanta and Ilya Sorokin went save-for-save to get things going. Each side dominated in shifts, lasting roughly three to four minutes. Both teams earned abbreviated power plays in the first few minutes, but nothing came of either.
The first goal of the night came during the second stretch of 4-on-4 play in the period. Mathew Barzal, who was all over the ice in the first, made a great move to push the puck to Noah Dobson. The Islanders’ leading scorer shoved a backhander to the net that finally beat Antti Raanta to get New York on the board in the final few minutes. It was a deflating feeling, albeit one we’ve felt a few times through 12 games.
The second period didn’t start much better for the Hurricanes. After drawing an early power play, a misplay at the blueline allowed the Islanders a rare 2-on-0 short-handed. Jean-Gabriel Pageau fed Simon Holmstrom, and Antti Raanta stood no chance. A few minutes later, Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat carved the Canes’ defense with a give-and-go. Barzal would get to the front of the net with plenty of space, and he lifted it over Raanta’s glove to extend the lead to 3-0.
If you’re new here, the Carolina Hurricanes thrive in these spots. They’d played a solid game to this point. The bounces weren’t going their way. That changed 32 seconds after Barzal’s goal. As the Canes continued to throw pucks at the net, Jalen Chatfield’s shot hit the backside of an Islanders defender, eluding Ilya Sorokin to get the Canes on the board. While they didn’t get closer before the end of the period, the Hurricanes had the momentum on their side.
I can’t think of a period this season when the Hurricanes dominated as much as they did in this third period. Ilya Sorokin was under siege, but he wasn’t giving an inch. Eventually, the good bounces would keep going the Canes’ way. Dmitry Orlov’s shot hit a skate in front of the net and snuck past Sorokin, giving Orlov his first goal as a Hurricanes, cutting the deficit to one. Three minutes later, the power play tied it up. With just one second remaining on the advantage, Andrei Svechnikov fed Jesperi Kotkaniemi from below the goal line to even the game in front of a stunned crowd at UBS Arena.
With the game going to overtime, the Hurricanes were in their element. The Islanders won the opening draw and controlled the puck for the first minute. After Antti Raanta denied a blast by Noah Dobson, the Canes carried the puck up the ice. Usual overtime hero Martin Necas made an excellent drop pass to Sebastian Aho, who found some daylight under the pads of a guessing Ilya Sorokin to complete the comeback.
As we’ve learned time after time, the Hurricanes are never out of a game. Despite being down 3-0, the Hurricanes were the better team. The four unanswered goals were their reward for sticking with it after a tough start. Antti Raanta deserves a ton of credit for his work once they fell behind three goals. He hadn’t been given much help to that point. New York scored on their first two shots of the period. After that, Raanta only faced 12 shots, but he was perfect. The stop on Noah Dobson in overtime was as tough as they come, and it allowed the Canes to get the game-winner shortly after.
Just like last season, the offense came from the defense. Jalen Chatfield helped spark the comeback. Dmitry Orlov finally found the back of the net in a game that will hopefully kickstart his offensive confidence. Speaking of kickstarting, that’s what the third period felt like for Andrei Svechnikov. He picked up two assists, including the primary helper on the game-tying goal from Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who also had two points in the period. To cap it off, Sebastian Aho found the back of the net for the time since the Los Angeles game.
This win is a positive end to the three-game division trip. Earning four of a possible six points, the Hurricanes sit two games above .500 with a home-heavy portion of the schedule set to begin soon. This has been the best stretch of hockey we’ve seen from the Canes this season, dating back to their back-to-back wins at home last week. While every point is important, points against division opponents are essential. It took comebacks in both wins on the trip, but they don’t ask how. They ask how many.
A two-day break is awaiting the Hurricanes as they travel back to Raleigh. Next on the schedule is the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at PNC Arena. The return home will again be short-lived as the team hits the road for back-to-back games next Friday and Saturday against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively.