Carolina Hurricanes tough out Game 1 win over New York Islanders to open NHL playoffs

The Carolina Hurricanes got just the kind of game they were expecting from the New York Islanders on Saturday as the Stanley Cup playoffs began.

The Hurricanes took a 3-1 victory at PNC Arena in Game 1, which was tight-checking, hard-fought and grinding. Canes goalie Frederik Andersen earned the win with 34 saves.

Stefan Noesen’s third-period goal gave the Canes 2-1 lead and Martin Necas sealed the win with an empty-net goal.

After some heavy forechecking shifts by the Canes, Noesen scored with 16:16 left in the third. Brady Skjei had the primary assist and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who scored the Canes’ first goal, also had an assist.

The Canes cycled the puck and kept the Islanders hemmed in their zone — the sellout crowd urging the Canes on — before Noesen went to the front of the net and knocked a shot past goalie Semyon Varlamov.

Before Noesen’s goal, Andersen made a hustling stop while also having his stick knocked into a corner. Andersen kept Canes fans roaring with other solid stops in the period.

Andersen also was caught without his stick on an Islanders power play but Kyle Palmieri was wide attempting to score. The Canes killed off the penalty, then went on the power play, only to have Andersen have to stop a shorthanded attempt after a turnover in the Carolina zone.

The physicality ramped up in the third as the Canes’ Seth Jarvis delivered a crunching hit on defenseman Noah Dobson.

Both teams score in first period

Kuznetsov converted in the first period as the Canes turned their first power of the playoffs into a goal. After Anders Lee was called for holding Skjei for an offensive-zone penalty, the Canes needed 13 seconds to score.

Kuznetsov rifled a high shot over the near shoulder of Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov at 1:35 of the first period.

The Canes were second in the NHL on the power play this season and the Isles last in penalty killing. It looked that way as Carolina took the early lead. Martin Necas and Skjei had the assists.

The Islanders tied it after Lee tipped a shot that goalie Frederik Andersen stopped. But Kyle MacLean, the son of Isles (and former Hurricanes) assistant coach John MacLean, banged the loose puck in at 8:19 of the period.

The Canes killed off their first penalty of the playoffs, a high-sticking call against Andrei Svechnikov.

The Isles had eight shots to the Canes’ seven in the opening period. The Canes were credited with nine scoring chances to New York’s seven by

Carolina right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) battles for the puck with New York defenseman Mike Reilly (2) during the first period of the Hurricanes game against the Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, April 20, 2024.
Carolina right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) battles for the puck with New York defenseman Mike Reilly (2) during the first period of the Hurricanes game against the Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Hurricanes missing Fast

Hurricanes winger Jesper Fast was ruled out for Game 1 against the Islanders with a neck strain, but Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Friday it was “a matter of days” for the hard-working winger to return to the ice.

Fast was injured in the Hurricanes’ 82nd regular-season game Tuesday when Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson cross-checked him toward the net from behind. As he fell, Fast spun back-first into the end boards, getting up slowly. He did not return to the game and has not skated since, although he watched part of Friday’s practice from the tunnel to the bench.

“Until he gets in a practice, you can pretty much rule him out,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Friday.

Fast missed six games last month with a similar injury and three games in December with a concussion.

Svechnikov filled Fast’s normal postseason spot with Jordan Staal and Jordan Martinook on Saturday, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi centering a second line of Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen.

The Islanders, again? Yes, but things figure to be more entertaining this time around.

Andersen starts in Game 1

Brind’Amour said Saturday that Andersen would be the starting goalie in Game 1. of the playoffs.

Andersen missed 49 games this season with a blood-clotting issue but has played extremely well since his return. He has a 9-1-0 record, 1.30 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in 10 appearances, with three shutouts.

Not his tempo

With two days off between games 2 and 3 of this series and again potentially between games 4 and 5, this series is scheduled about as leisurely as a first-round playoff ever is, not only without any back-to-backs, but not even at an every-other-day pace.

As a team that’s been itching to play meaningful hockey for a month — not to mention Svechnikov, who’s much more excited to play in Game 1 than sound the warning siren like he did a year ago while injured — the Hurricanes would prefer a slightly quicker tempo.

“Even when I was a player, I mean, it’s a lot different now, but I always thought it’s interesting how you’ll play 17, 18 games in a month, with travel, and then the playoffs come around and there’s no traveling and they milk it,” Brind’Amour said. “We probably could have played four in five nights with one travel (day) and knocked this thing out. Because the guys want to play. You’re not doing too much practicing now.”

For Brind’Amour the coach, that presents some different challenges. He prefers to practice as little as possible during the playoffs, but with two days off between multiple games, there’s a delicate balance to be struck between staying sharp and not racking up extra mileage.

“That’s the tricky part,” Brind’Amour said. “You can always get better, but then you have to weigh, what are you accomplishing versus the rest and the mental side of things. Everyone goes through that. But, yeah, I’d love to see us move the games along a little quicker.”

Either way, the Hurricanes are excited to get started.

“They were playing for something at the end of the season,” Necas said. “We weren’t, so we’re really pumped up to do that again. It’s a whole new season.”

Andrei Svechnikov’s style of play for Carolina Hurricanes ‘reeks playoff hockey’

Paths, crossed

Brind’Amour and Islanders coach Patrick Roy played together on the 1998 Canadian Olympic team that lost to Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic in the semifinals and failed to medal. Brind’Amour said Saturday that Roy told him, earlier in the Olympics, that Brind’Amour should be in Canada’s shootout rotation after scoring on him in practice.

“I remember scoring on him in practice, and then him saying after one time I should be in the shootout in the Olympics because I scored on him,” Brind’Amour said. “I remember that. He won’t remember that but I do.”

Canada went on to lose in a five-round shootout to the Czechs, 1-0, when no one could score on Hasek. Neither Brind’Amour nor Wayne Gretzky was picked for an attempt.


Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson returned to the Isles’ lineup after missing two games but center Jean-Gabriel Pageau was absent after being injured in the Islanders’ final game of the season. ... Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns has played the second-most regular-season games (1,415) without winning a Stanley Cup of any player in the postseason. Only Dallas Stars defenseman Ryan Suter (1,444) has been waiting longer. ... N.C. State women’s basketball guard Zoe Brooks was the Game 1 siren sounder.