RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Sebastian Aho and Stefan Noesen scored power-play goals to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Monday night to open their first-round playoff series.
Noesen’s tip on Brent Burns’ shot from up top proved to be the winner at 2:27 of the second period, while Antti Raanta finished with 25 saves to lead a defensive effort that saw the Hurricanes turn away every chance the Islanders had with a man advantage to take the lead in the best-of-7 series.
Carolina, which came into the game with the league’s No. 2 penalty kill, denied all four of New York’s power plays. The Hurricanes also withstood the final roughly 90 seconds to protect the lead after the Islanders had pulled Ilya Sorokin for the extra attacker.
Ryan Pulock beat Raanta early in the second period for the Islanders, a big goal coming moments after Carolina had taken a 2-0 lead on Noesen’s score. But that ended up being the last time either team would find the net, setting up a third-period grind to the final horn.
Sorokin finished with 35 saves for the Islanders, including a big one midway through the third when he slid across the crease just in time to stop Seth Jarvis near the post after a perfect pass from Teuvo Teravainen.
The Hurricanes are in the playoffs for the fifth straight season, the first such run since the former Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997. They won their last two regular season games to clinch a division title for the third straight season. And they entered the postseason second only to Boston in the NHL standings.
The Islanders had reached the Stanley Cup semifinals in 2020 and 2021 before missing the playoffs last season, but they grinded their way to the Eastern Conference’s top wild-card spot in a tight finish to the season.
Islanders star Mathew Barzal returned from a lower-body injury that cost him 23 straight games. He hadn’t played since Feb. 18, though he began skating earlier this month and rejoined the team for practice late last week.
Barzal returned to the top line alongside captain Anders Lee and midseason trade acquisition Bo Horvat. Barzal saw more than 21 minutes of ice time and tallied two shots.
Carolina star Andrei Svechnikov took part in the pregame build-up despite being sidelined by a season-ending knee injury that could present a significant obstacle to Carolina’s push to win the Cup.
The forward sounded the pregame “storm warning” siren for the team to take the ice from the locker room. Moments earlier, he got a rousing cheer and ovation from towel-waving fans, with Svechnikov waving and patting his heart in acknowledgement.
Duke football coach Mike Elko and North Carolina State men’s basketball player D.J. Burns Jr. — a fan-favorite big man with the program that shares the arena with the Hurricanes — sounded the siren for the following intermissions.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Raleigh before the series shifts to New York.