Chaos Reigns in Game 2 as the Hurricanes Complete an Improbable Comeback

After falling behind 3-0 early in the second period, the Hurricanes score five unanswered goals, including four in the third period, to take a 2-0 series lead.
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Two
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Two / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The first game of the opening round between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders was a tight contest, won in the third period by the Canes to take an early series lead. With New York desperate for a win before heading back to Long Island, Game 2 would serve as a big test for both teams. While 2-0 leads aren't impossible to come back from, hitting the road with a little cushion was the name of the game for the Hurricanes.

The goalie battled remained the same, as both Frederik Andersen and Semyon Varlamov both earned the nod for Game 2. Andersen was fantastic in Game 1, making 33 stops, while Varlamov did everything he could to keep New York in the game. The Hurricanes' lineup remained the same, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau drew in for the Islanders after missing the opening game.

The Hurricanes were in complete control of the game from the drop of the puck. The offense swarmed Semyon Varlamov, but the Islanders' netminder was up for the challenge. A big hit by Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Cal Clutterbuck and a fight between Kyle MacLean and Stefan Noesen had the fans buzzing, but the goals weren't coming.

As good as the start was, the end of the first period deflated the arena before the break. Skating four aside after matching penalties, Kyle Palmieri poked a loose puck into the net with 3:38 left to break the ice. After killing a late penalty, the Islanders would strike again in the final seconds. Bo Horvat unleashed a wicked one-timer from the top of the slot with less than 15 seconds left to double the lead. Despite being held without a shot for over 13 minutes, New York was in the driver's seat.

New York's special teams would keep their momentum going early in the second period. Anders Lee made a great move to his backhand to slide a puck past Frederik Andersen's outstretched right pad to make it 3-0 less than four minutes into the frame. If you thought the game was over at this point, I wouldn't have blamed you. The Canes had been the better team for most of the night, but the results weren't there.

Through the midway point in the second period, Semyon Varlamov had been on his A-game. However, a dumb penalty by the Islanders' goalie gave the Canes life late in the period. The power play brought the arena back to life. Jake Guentzel tapped a rebound chance to Teuvo Teravainen, who buried it into an empty net to chip away at the Islanders' lead. The Canes hit two more goalposts in the final minutes, but they weren't able to draw any closer after 40.

It felt like only one group came out for the third period of this game. The Hurricanes spent the majority of the period in their offensive zone, but it wasn't until almost 11 minutes into the period that they finally got another one. Brady Skjei did a great job of pinching to keep the puck in the zone. Skjei slid the puck to Jordan Staal, who found Seth Jarvis with a cross-seam pass. Jarvis took a page out of Evgeny Kuznetsov's book, snapping a shot over the blocker to make it 3-2.

Despite the dominant period, the Hurricanes remained down by a goal before calling their timeout with 2:49 left. Rod Brind'Amour took that opportunity to keep Frederik Andersen on the bench. Just 34 seconds later, the game was tied. Andrei Svechnikov's slap pass to the side of the net was tapped home by Sebastian Aho, sending the fans into a frenzy.

Overtime was not an option for the Canes because they took the lead nine seconds later. Jordan Martinook worked hard on the forecheck to get the puck behind the net. Semyon Varlamov looked one way. Martinook went the other way, banking it off Varlamov's skate to completely blow the roof off PNC Arena. With New York now needing to keep their goalie on the bench, Jake Guentzel scored the dagger into the empty net, much to the disdain of the Islanders, to seal a 5-3 victory.

The late comeback is going to overshadow the fact that Carolina was the better team for over 50 minutes of this game. It was a short span of tough moments late in the first period and early in the second period that nearly defined a Game 2 loss. Instead, the Hurricanes retook control from the Islanders, rattling off five straight goals, including three in the final three minutes. It didn't have to be pretty. It just needed to end with the Canes ahead.

This comeback was made possible by everyone digging in and believing they weren't out of this game yet. It was evident in the second period that the Canes were ramping up their physicality. They were hitting everything that moved. The Canes asserted their dominance physically, allowing them to play their game in the third period. The big guys stepped up in the final minutes to get the job done. Four players finished with multi-point nights, led by three points from Seth Jarvis.

The only negative development from the game is the injury to Brett Pesce after he left in the second period with a leg injury. The Canes played the third period with five defensemen, and the early prognosis isn't looking great. I would think this means Tony DeAngelo will draw in when the Canes head to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday. I'd also bet that we'll see two new goalies between the pipes for the third game.