What we learned from 3-1 Hurricanes win over the Islanders: 3 takeaways

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Islanders played a superb road in Game 1 and they still couldn’t break through.

Stefan Noesen’s good-bounce goal and Frederik Andersen’s strong play in the Carolina net lifted the Hurricanes to a 3-1 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.

The opening minutes made it seem as though the Islanders were going to have a long evening and a long series. Anders Lee was whistled for a very suspect holding penalty just 1:22 in, sent off after he pushed Brady Skjei down and Skjei’s outsized reaction drew the whistle. Just 13 seconds into the Carolina power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov whistled a surprising shot over Varlamov’s shoulder for a quick lead.

But the Islanders gathered themselves well, as they’ve done the last month under Patrick Roy, and didn’t let the loud atmosphere overwhelm them. Kyle MacLean tied it up at 8:20 of the first, battling for a loose puck under Andersen and sweeping it home.

The game was tilted in the Islanders’ favor for much of the second period, a frame that has been the Isles’ worst (minus-24 goal differential) and Carolina’s best this season (plus-37). Andersen was sharp when called upon and the Islanders were blocking shots and clogging up passing and shooting lanes, which seemed to frustrate the high-energy Hurricanes.

Frederik Andersen steals the show

Carolina’s goaltending hasn’t won the Hurricanes much over the many years of playoff disappointments, but Andersen was the standout in Game 1. He may have been interfered with early in the third — replays looked like it was his own man who clicked skates with him — but Andersen dove, without his stick, to deny Noah Dobson with the game still tied.

Even after the Hurricanes took the lead Andersen was very sharp, holding the fort on an Islanders power play inside of 10 minutes to go. Andersen finished with 34 saves in the win.

More Islanders bad puck luck

Last year’s first-round series featured four wacky goals, all going against the Islanders, that helped turn the series, including both Carolina overtime winners in Games 2 and 6.

That ill fortune reared its head again in the third period of Game 1. Andersen deserves huge marks for his diving stop on Dobson to keep it tied early in the third, but Dobson cranking one off the post just as Andersen got his foot caught with his own defenseman just prior to the big save was a bit of good fortune for the home side.

And Noesen’s winner pinballed off a teammate and then Ryan Pulock before settling on Noesen’s stick with enough space to shove it by Varlamov. Bad luck doesn’t decide games and series, but a good bounce wouldn’t hurt for the Islanders once in a while.

The kids (Kyle MacLean and Alexander Romanov) are alright

The Islanders got strong efforts from a lot of their lineup in Game 1 but top of the list were a couple of 24-year-olds.

MacLean not only made his NHL playoff debut he scored the lone goal while bumped up into a more prominent role with J-G Pageau sidelined. Skating between Anders Lee and Pierre Engvall, MacLean did not look out of place or overwhelmed by the moment.

Alexander Romanov has a bit more playoff experience than MacLean, but not as much as his more seasoned teammates. Romanov was the steadiest Islander defenseman in Game 1, keeping the puck in the zone to start the play that led to MacLean’s goal while also playing a smart game in the defensive zone against Carolina’s attacking game.

Simon Holmstrom looked decent in his first playoff game as well, forced into a fourth-line center role with Pageau out and MacLean up to the third line. Holmstrom isn’t a center, as evidenced by him losing all four faceoffs he took and deferring to Cal Clutterbuck or Matt Martin on most draws, but Holmstrom was strong on pucks in this one.

(Top photo of Stefan Noesen: Josh Lavallee / NHLI via Getty Images)

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