The Carolina Hurricanes had gone from leading by two goals to trailing midway through the final period, suddenly facing the prospect of losing their home-ice advantage against the New York Islanders.
Jaccob Slavin, Jesper Fast and the rest of the Hurricanes turned in a steady response befitting a team in the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
Fast took a cross-ice pass from Jordan Staal and buried it past Ilya Sorokin at 5:03 of overtime to lift the Hurricanes past the Islanders 4-3 on Wednesday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
“Certainly in spurts we were OK,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We probably played our best hockey when we got down.”
Staal’s pass came from the left side near the boards and found Fast loose on the right for the finish over Sorokin’s pad. And that opportunity came only because Slavin managed a game-tying score midway through the third period despite a tough angle from the goal line on the left side.
“We know how we have to play and we’ve been a team all year that will battle hard until that last buzzer goes,” Slavin said.
Paul Stastny and Stefan Noesen also scored for the Hurricanes, while Antti Raanta had 23 saves. But Carolina lost top-line forward Teuvo Teravainein to what coach Rod Brind’Amour said afterward was a broken hand on an uncalled slash late in the third period.
Kyle Palmieri, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders, and Sorokin finished with 32 saves. New York coach Lane Lambert was also irked by a late no-call when defenceman Scott Mayfield took an inadvertent high stick from Carolina’s Jordan Martinook shortly before Fast’s winning goal.
That capped a night in which the Islanders had no power plays compared to the Hurricanes’ six, including two double-minors for high-sticking.
“Right now we just have to worry about the next game,” Lambert said.
The Hurricanes took the series opener Monday night, scoring twice with the man advantage – their first multi-goal game on the power play since early March – before the teams shared a scoreless 37-minute grind to the horn in Carolina’s 2-1 win.
This time, Carolina grabbed an early lead on Stastny’s deflection from the top of the crease then pushed ahead 2-0 on a bouncing own-goal off the stick of the Islanders’ Sebastian Aho, coming off Noesen’s dump-in on a power play that somehow instead slipped by Sorokin.
Yet the Islanders responded with three straight goals, including Barzal – who missed the last 23 regular-season games with a lower-body injury – converting a bad open-ice turnover from Brady Skjei by turning around Brett Pesce and whipping the puck past Raanta in the final minute of the second.
Nelson made it 3-2 when he took a pass ahead from Palmieri, got past Martin Necas and beat Raanta from the left side at 9:18 of the third. Slavin answered from a steep left-corner angle roughly three minutes later, bouncing the puck off the right side of Sorokin’s helmet and inside the far post to ultimately send it to overtime.
“It’s not easy being down two on the road in a building like this, to claw back, get it [3-2],” said defenceman Noah Dobson, who had two assists. “It’s unfortunate. I thought overall we were pretty solid tonight. It’s disappointing we didn’t get the result.”
The clocks in PNC Arena had a second-period hiccup by freezing with 8:16 left in the period. That forced the public-address announcer to provide updates for every 30 seconds elapsed through continuous play until the clock was restored to working order during a stoppage with 4:24 left.
Former Hurricanes forward Bates Battaglia sounded the pregame “storm warning” siren for the team to take the ice from the locker room.
The list included North Carolina men’s basketball player R.J. Davis for the second intermission. That continued the representation of area Atlantic Coast Conference college programs that began with North Carolina State men’s basketball player D.J. Burns Jr. and Duke football coach Mike Elko for Game 1.
The series shifts to New York for two games, starting with Game 3 on Friday.