HURRICANES HOLD ON TO BEAT ISLANDERS TO OPEN NHL PLAYOFFS
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Antti Raanta felt ready when he got the start in net. And the Carolina Hurricanes played the kind of defense in front of him – especially on the penalty kill – that secured an early lead in their first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders.
Sebastian Aho and Stefan Noesen scored power-play goals, while Raanta finished with 25 saves in Monday night’s 2-1 win to open the best-of-7 series.
Raanta got the nod over Frederik Andersen after playing in a rotation this season, and he came up with several key stops when the Islanders generated pressure.
“A couple of shots I couldn’t see, but our guys were blocking those,” Raanta said, adding; “I think most of the time, we played really well in front of the net. So I just needed to make the first save and our guys were helping me.”
Indeed, Carolina entered with the league’s No. 2 penalty kill and denied all four of New York’s power plays, the last with 5 minutes left. The Hurricanes didn’t surrender a shot on Raanta on that one, then withstood the final roughly 90 seconds after the Islanders had pulled Ilya Sorokin for the extra attacker.
“The best penalty killer is always your goalie, No. 1,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He made a couple of real good stops. The guys in there blocked some shots. They did what they had to do.”
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. And they clinched a division title for the third straight season.
Ryan Pulock beat Raanta early in the second period for the Islanders, who had reached the Stanley Cup semifinals in 2020 and 2021 before missing the playoffs last season. His score came moments after Carolina had taken a 2-0 lead, but ended up being the last time either team found the net to set up a third-period grind to the horn.
“I think we’ve just got to find a better way to be a little more clean, execute some passes,” Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson said. “But there’s not much space out there. it’s going to be like that all series. We’re just going to have to find a way to grind through it.”
Sorokin finished with 35 saves for the Islanders, including a big one midway through the third when he slid across the crease in time to stop Seth Jarvis near the post after a perfect pass from Teuvo Teravainen.
Carolina’s power play was a problem in last year’s playoffs, and the Hurricanes had come up empty on 28 of 31 chances dating to March 26. But they posted multiple power-play goals for the first time since scoring four against Tampa Bay on March 5.
Aho scored first after winning a faceoff, then drifting to the right circle to one-time a pass from Brent Burns just 5 seconds into the man advantage. Noesen’s tip on Burns’ shot from up top was the winner at 2:27 of the second period.
“The puck didn’t stay on our sticks too long,” said Martin Necas, who also assisted on both goals. “We made good plays. It’s all about confidence.”
Islanders star Mathew Barzal returned from a lower-body injury that cost him 23 straight games. He hadn’t played since Feb. 18, but 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.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been out and come into a playoff game with that kind of atmosphere,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “Certainly it’s not an easy thing to do, and I thought he showed well.”
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.
MARCHAND, NHL-BEST BRUINS TOP PANTHERS 3-1 IN GAME 1
BOSTON (AP) Brad Marchand has had his share of highlight goals in his career. His latest was more of a lowlight for Florida goalie Alex Lyon.
Marchand scored his 50th career playoff goal on a relatively easy shot, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk also scored, and the NHL-best Boston Bruins opened the playoffs by beating the Panthers 3-1 on Monday night.
“You never know, come playoff time, you never want to pass up a shot,” Marchand said. “That’s just kind of how the playoffs work. Sometimes those shots go in and sometimes they don’t.”
Linus Ullmark, a Vezina Trophy candidate who led the league in wins (40), goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.938), stopped 31 shots and Tyler Bertuzzi added two assists for Boston, which controlled the game even with captain Patrice Bergeron sitting out because of illness.
Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Panthers and Lyon made 26 saves – many of them splendid – but gave up Marchand’s goal on the soft shot.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Boston.
The Bruins captured the Presidents’ Trophy, setting NHL records in points (135) and wins (65). Florida, last season’s No. 1 seed, earned the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with a late-season push.
It’s the first playoff matchup between a No. 1 seed and the Presidents’ winner from the previous season since the award was introduced in 1985-86.
With the Bruins leading 1-0, Lyon gave up Marchand’s early in the second when the winger fired a seemingly harmless shot from the top of the left circle. Lyon bent down to catch it and it tipped off his glove, caroming into the net after hitting the inside of the right post.
Soon after, the TD Garden crowd started serenading him with chants of “Lyon! Lyon!”
“He was good. He’ll want the second one back,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said of Lyon. “I’m not measuring that as the tell of his game, we’ll measure it by the saves that he made.”
Pastrnak, a 61-goal scorer this season, was on the opposite side on the right wing from his usual spot on the power play. Bertuzzi collected the rebound of David Krejci’s shot in the slot and sent a quick backhand pass to Pastrnak, who snapped the puck into the net at 5:58 of the opening period, pushing Boston ahead 1-0.
Florida cut the lead in half when Boston defenseman Dmitry Orlov sent a blind, backhand pass directly out front, where Tkachuk collected it and flipped the puck past Ullmark at 6:34 of the second.
“I think both teams got better and have more to give, especially us,” Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen said.
DeBrusk restored the two-goal lead when he dove into a pile and knocked the puck into the net out of a scramble near the crease late in the second.
“I just saw the puck on his pad,” DeBrusk said. “I just tried to dive to get it. But I thought that if I obviously hit his pad, it was goaltender interference. I just tried to go over the top of it. … As soon I saw the replay, I knew I did what I wanted to do.”
As it did to so many opponents during its record-setting season, Boston bottled up Florida in the third.
“Our third period was our best period of the game,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought our first five, six minutes were good. After we scored that power-play goal, maybe we had two, three shifts after that, then we kind of had a lull in our game.”
The 30-year-old Lyon, undrafted and essentially a career minor leaguer, made a pair of splendid stops after Boston took its 1-0 lead, coming across to make a left pad save on Bertuzzi’s redirect from the edge of the crease and sliding across to stop Trent Frederic’s chance. He robbed Frederic again late in the second.
Bergeron left the regular-season finale in Montreal in the first period with an upper-body injury, then missed practice Saturday and Sunday.
“We have not only Bergeron, but a couple of guys that have been under the weather,” Montgomery said after the morning skate.
NOTES: Krejci missed the last six games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. … Bruins D Derek Forbort returned to the lineup. He hadn’t played since mid-March because of a lower-body injury. D Matt Grzelcyk was a healthy scratch … Panthers C Aleksander Barkov was in the lineup after missing Sunday’s practice. … Florida G Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina winner, was the backup. He hasn’t played since March 27 because of a non-COVID illness. … Florida led the league in shots on goal per game with 36.82.
HARTMAN GOAL IN 2ND OT GIVES WILD 3-2 WIN OVER STARS IN G1
DALLAS (AP) Ryan Hartman scored 12:20 into the second overtime and the Minnesota Wild beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in their playoff opener Monday night that dragged into early Tuesday morning.
Hartman gathered the puck in front of the crease and got it past Jake Oettinger at around 1 a.m. local time, ending a more than four-hour game in which both 24-year-old goalies had spectacular performances.
The Stars had been been turned away on a power play after Frederick Gaudreau’s tripping penalty against captain Jamie Benn 9:11 into the second overtime. Roope Hintz, who scored on a power play in the second period, hit the post and there were several other chances before the penalty expired.
Filip Gustavsson stopped 52 shots for the Wild, including 12 in the third period and 17 in the first overtime. He started the opener ahead of three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-André Fleury after the goalie tandem had split games throughout most of the season.
Oettinger had 45 saves for the Stars in his first playoff game since his 64-save performance in Game 7 in the first round last May when top-seeded Calgary scored the series clincher in overtime.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Dallas.
Veteran Stars center Joe Pavelski left the game midway through the second period after a massive hit from Matt Dumba, who was only assessed a minor roughing penalty. Referees had initially called it a five-minute major, but changed it after a lengthy replay review.
Another playoff hit Pavelski took in 2019, when still with San Jose, helped lead the NHL to expand its video review process to allow referees to review major penalties and gave them the option to reduce them to a minor, as happened on the hit by Dumba.
KINGS EDGE OILERS 4-3 IN OT TO TAKE EARLY LEAD IN SERIES
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Alex Iafallo scored in OT to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers to open their first-round playoff series Monday night.
Iafallo scored a power-play goal at 9:19 of OT by converting Victor Arvidsson’s feed from behind the net.
Adrian Kempe scored twice and Anze Kopitar had a goal and three assists for Los Angeles, which held Oilers captain and NHL scoring leader Connor McDavid scoreless.
Kings goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 38 saves for the win.
Leon Draisaitl countered with a pair of goals and Evan Bouchard also scored for the Oilers (50-23-9), who ranked second in the Pacific Division this season ahead of third-seeded Kings (47-25-10).
Oilers starter Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots in his NHL playoff debut.
Edmonton defenseman Vincent Desharnais was penalized in overtime for tripping Blake Lizotte, although Lizotte appeared to step on a broken stick on the ice and fall.
The Oilers almost ended it at 1:54 of OT, but officials ruled Ryan McLeod’s shot from the blue line deflected off Derek Ryan’s high stick.
The Oilers will try even the series in Wednesday’s Game 2 at Rogers Place.
Edmonton also dropped the opener of a first-round series against the Kings last year, but the Oilers took it in seven games to advance.
The Oilers led Monday’s opener 2-0 after the first and second periods before a four-goal third.
Kempe halved the deficit 52 seconds into the third period when the clubs played four aside.
Draisaitl restored Edmonton’s two-goal lead at 8:46 only for Kempe to pull his team within a goal again at 11:23.
With Bouchard serving a high-sticking penalty, and Korpisalo pulled for an extra attacker, Kopitar produced the equalizer with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
The puck lay in the crease for Kopitar to poke in after Philip Danault’s shot squeezed between Skinner’s pads.
Quinton Byfield fed Kempe following an offensive zone faceoff for the latter to beat Skinner with a shot far side for his second goal of the game.
Korpisalo made the initial save on Draisaitl’s backhand attempt as the big centre skated out from behind the net.
The puck squirted loose in the ensuing goalmouth scramble. Draisaitl skating by again reached back to get a shot away for his second goal.
Kempe cut from the wing to the high slot and put a backhand by Skinner’s glove for his first of the game.The Oilers killed off a pair of penalties early in a goal-free second period.