Islanders beat Hurricanes, cut playoff series deficit to 3-2
Brock Nelson scored by knocking in an airborne puck that had bounced off the face of Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, and the New York Islanders added two goals that came off turnovers, beating the Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night and extending their first-round playoff series.
The Islanders trailed 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but staved off elimination by scoring the game’s first two goals and never trailing while playing in front of a rowdy crowd eager to see the Hurricanes become the first team to advance to this year’s second round.
Nelson’s goal stood out. He swung at the puck after it had struck Aho near the mouth and was falling to the ice, batting it past Antti Raanta near the post early in the second period for a wild score.
Pierre Engvall scored midway through the first period after getting a 1-on-1 shot at Raanta off Carolina's failed clear, while Mathew Barzal took a turnover by Martin Necas the other way to beat Raanta late in the second for the 3-1 lead.
Ilya Sorokin weathered a strong first period from Carolina to finish with 34 saves as New York sent the series back to UBS Arena for Friday’s Game 6.
Aho - who exited to the locker room briefly after Nelson's goal - and Paul Stastny scored for the Hurricanes, who were coming off a 5-2 win that ended an eight-game postseason road losing streak dating to 2021.
The Hurricanes certainly would’ve preferred to close this one out Tuesday on home ice considering how they’re grinding forward with an injury-depleted group of forwards - including top names like Andrei Svechnikov (season-ending knee injury) and Teuvo Teravainen (broken hand suffered in Game 2).
Aho's score off a behind-the-net feed from Seth Jarvis cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the third period. But the Hurricanes came up short on a night that included the Islanders successfully challenging a first-period put-away on Stefan Noesen's one-timer for coming on an uncalled offsides as Carolina pushed into the zone with the man advantage.
Raanta finished with 19 saves, while Aho and defenseman Brent Burns both pinged the post on a frustrating night for the Hurricanes. And now, they'll have to win on the road again to avoid a Game 7 at home Sunday.
Engvall's goal ended a nine-game postseason streak for the Islanders without a first-period goal.
New York missed the playoffs last year and hadn't scored in the first period of a playoff game since Nelson's score at 13:30 of Game 2 in a seven-game series loss to Tampa Bay in the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinals.
Carolina forward Jack Drury didn't play Tuesday after being was knocked early from Game 4 on a hard hit into the boards by Ryan Pulock. Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said earlier Tuesday that Drury doesn't have a concussion.
Former Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole - a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup winner - sounded the pregame “storm warning” siren for the team to take the ice from the locker room.