The Canes show off their offense in a season-opening win over the Islanders

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The tailgating began early, the parking lots at PNC Arena filling quickly. The building was full, loud.

It’s October. The Carolina Hurricanes were opening a new hockey season. The New York Islanders were in the house for the start of an 82-game regular season, the two Metropolitan Divisions rivals going at it again.

“It seems like we’re as close to normal as we can be right now,” Canes goalie Frederik Andersen said leading up to the game.

The Canes gave a sellout crowd much to enjoy, taking a 6-3 victory that started with Andrei Svechnikov scoring Carolina’s first goal of the season and then finishing it off with the sixth, a power-play empty netter. The special teams were sharp, the defensemen active and Andersen good enough in net in his first start.

The game had all the proper opening-night pomp and circumstance. Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour got a huge hand from Canes fans during the team introductions. No surprise there. Sebastian Aho, named an alternate captain this season, received another one.

Then they dropped the puck and what could be top of the best teams in the Metro battled it out.

Svechnikov, who had two goals and assist, had Canes fans at full throat when he scored and when he tried his lacrosse move behind the net in the third. Jesper Fast, Jordan Martinook and Nino Niederreiter also scored in a game that had a good pace and enough intensity as the Canes led 2-1 after the first and took a 4-3 lead into the third.

Teuvo Teravainen’s power-play goal in the third made it 5-3, the forward ripping a shot from the right circle off a Tony DeAngelo shot. There soon would be another season first: the first Storm Surge celebration after a victory.

The Canes signed Andersen — and goalie Antti Raanta — to give them more a veteran look in net and Andersen was given the first start by Brind’Amour.

The Canes are counting on special teams to again be a strength. Their puck movement was sharp on the power play and Teravainen scored. And the Canes’ penalty killers, active and effective most of last season, were on point, getting stick on pucks and clearing.

A homemade sign by the ice before the game read: “Now this one counts.”

For about six minutes, no one was sure if the Islanders’ first goal of the season counted. Anderson, with a quick move to his left, appeared to stop a Mathew Barzal shot with his pad at the post. But when play was stopped — two minutes later — there was a long review of the shot.

The ruling: good goal by Barzal, 1-0 lead for the Isles. Canes fans booed, but Svechnikov soon had them roaring. Outbattling defenseman Andy Greene in front of Sorokin, he tipped the puck in for Carolina’s first goal of the 2021-22 season.

The Canes’ second goal, and their first lead of the season, came after Jaccob Slavin ripped a shot from the left circle with Niederreiter and Fast in front. The goal initially was awarded to Slavin but Fast got his piece of the puck — and the goal.

The second period had a lot of end-to-end action. The Isles tied the score in the first minute after a power move by Brock Nelson, and the Canes soon answered on Martinook’s goal from the slot as the fourth line gave the Canes both energy and a score after a good forechecking shift.

It took another review, then a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference, before Niederreiter was credited with his goal. The Isles were penalized, but a kill by New York and then a goal by Anders Lee made a 4-3 game after two periods.

In Brind’Amour’s first game as head coach, in October 2018, the Canes lost to the Islanders in overtime in the season opener at PNC Arena. So much has happened since -- three playoff appearances, a Central Division title, And the pandemic, which threatened everything.

But as Andersen said, maybe, just maybe, things are getting close to normal.

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