Lucky Bounces and a Calm Netminder Help the Canes Win a Game 1 Dogfight over New York

Andersen makes 33 stops to keep the Islanders at bay, while the Hurricanes strike twice in the third period to start the postseason with a 3-1 victory.
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game One
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game One / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

After the grind of the 82-game regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders opened up the postseason on Saturday night at PNC Arena. Their paths to the playoffs have been different, with Carolina finishing comfortably in the second spot in the division, while New York used a scorching stretch in April to earn the final Metropolitan Division spot. Playing in one of the loudest barns in the league, the Canes hoped to get off to the same start that helped them beat the Islanders in the first round last season.

Frederik Andersen got the nod to start the series after going 9-1-0 with three shutouts after returning from his blood-clotting issue in early March. Jesper Fast was the only regular who missed the game after leaving the season finale on Tuesday in Columbus with an upper-body injury. The Islanders opted to go with their hot hand, starting Semyon Varlamov. During New York's 8-0-1 run to end the season, Varlamov went 5-0-0 with a .930 save percentage.

The Hurricanes' moves at the trade deadline were praised because of the playoff acumen they were adding. Less than 100 seconds into the game, it started to pay off. After drawing an early power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked the corner on Semyon Varlamov, giving the Hurricanes an early 1-0 lead. Stefan Noesen provided the excellent net front, setting a moving screen as Kuznetsov released the shot.

New York started to build a solid road period after allowing the early goal. Their captain was a big part of the push. Anders Lee placed a perfect redirection on a shot from Alexander Romanov. While Frederik Andersen stopped it, his sudden movement dislodged the puck and allowed Kyle MacLean to tap home the rebound and tie the game. An offensive zone penalty by Andrei Svechnikov didn't help matters, but the penalty kill got the job done. The Canes got out of the period in a 1-1 tie, but the Islanders came out of the period looking good.

If New York was happy with their performance in the first period, they had to be thrilled with how the second played out, minus not scoring a goal. Their penalty kill, which was the worst in the league during the regular season, got an early kill. New York carried the play offensively, too, getting several chances to score. Frederik Andersen was there to thwart their chances. New York outshot Carolina 13-6 in the period, but the score remained the same after 40 minutes.

A new Carolina team came out for the third period, moving with more of a purpose. They survived an early scare with Noah Dobson hitting the post before getting robbed by Frederik Andersen on the rebound after he'd been run into. The Kuznetsov line would help to get the Hurricanes back ahead. Evgeny Kuznetsov's shot from the point was redirected by Brady Skjei, and it fell right in front of Stefan Noesen. He didn't get much on his backhand, but Noesen got enough of it to beat Semyon Varlamov to retake the lead.

New York pushed to tie the game, getting a chance on the power play after Carolina's second offensive-zone penalty of the game. Kyle Palmieri missed a chance on a wide-open net as he was falling, hitting the outside of the post to keep it a 2-1 Canes lead. Palmieri would take his frustration out on the back of Jaccob Slavin's leg, giving Carolina another power play. While they wouldn't score, Martin Necas would provide the dagger into the empty net with 1:32 left to ensure a 1-0 series lead for the Hurricanes in a 3-1 win.

The Carolina Hurricanes didn't play their best game. In fact, the Islanders had better spurts during the first 40 minutes. Frederik Andersen proved to be the great equalizer. After allowing the goal to Kyle MacLean, Andersen wasn't going to allow anything else past him. Even if the Canes didn't play their best game, they played well enough in the third period to win the game and take the early series lead.

This was the version of Evgeny Kuznetsov the Hurricanes were hoping they would get when they traded for him at the deadline. After a very quiet end to his regular season, Kuznetsov's playoff pedigree shone in a major way, centering the Canes' best line in a multi-point effort. Stefan Noesen added a goal, and Jack Drury won a key face-off before Martin Necas' empty-net goal, earning an assist. Necas also finished the night with a goal and an assist, while Brady Skjei finished with a pair of assists.

Game 1 was the type of win that we haven't seen from the Canes in a while. The top line for Carolina didn't play a great game. Sebastian Aho wasn't sharp, finishing with just one shot, and Jake Guentzel failed to get one at the net. Instead, it was the work of the fourth line and the other forwards that got the job done. Andrei Svechnikov, outside of a bad penalty early, looked great. Svechnikov swapped spots with Seth Jarvis in the third period, meaning we could see some new combinations in Game 2.

Evgeny Kuznetsov didn't mince words after the game, saying the team wasn't happy with how they played for most of this game. They'll have a chance to correct that for Game 2 on Monday. Despite a solid game, it'll be interesting to see if New York sticks with Semyon Varlamov, or if Ilya Sorokin will be in the net. We'll also have to see if either Jesper Fast or Jean-Gabriel Pageau is good to go for the second game.