Encouraging signs exist for Islanders despite 0-1 hole vs. Hurricanes

Kyle Palmieri Islanders
New York Islanders’ Kyle Palmieri (21) stretches to shoot the puck wide of Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) with Hurricanes’ Brett Pesce (22) and Brady Skjei (76) nearby during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Playing a Carolina Hurricanes team that finished 17 points ahead of them in the standings down in Raleigh, there was plenty to be pleased with for the New York Islanders despite dropping Game 1 of their first-round playoff series 3-1 on Saturday night.

There was a quick response following Carolina’s early power-play goal just 1:35 into the game — Kyle MacLean stuffing home a loose puck in the crease 6:45 later. The Islanders outshot the Hurricanes 34-26 and had seven high-danger chances compared to their nine.

Tied 1-1 in the third period, Noah Dobson hit a post just moments before Stefan Noesen put the Hurricanes up 2-1 3:44 into the frame. With roughly seven minutes to go, Kyle Palmieri could not quite wrap a puck around Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen, who was down and out of position after tripping on his defensemen’s stick, and into the open net. Just seconds later, he went off for a retaliatory slash that kept the Islanders shorthanded until there was 4:43 left in regulation

“I would say a mix of both [encouraged and frustrated],” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy said. “Encouraged because we played a really solid game. We did a lot of good things out there. It was a hard-fought game and we had our chances. Frustrated because we had our chances. There were key moments in the game, like when the goalie tripped on his defenseman’s skate and we got two good shots on net and it could’ve been goals right there… but we came up short. All year, we’ve been resilient and this is the moment to continue to do that.”

The key to the Islanders’ play was simplicity. The Hurricanes are one of the most aggressive teams in the league whether it be them leading the NHL in shot attempts per game or a buzzing defense whose organization is steeped in chaos.

“Usually, games against them are mucked up,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “That’s the way it is. That’s the style they play and we have to respond to sometimes. We played a simple hockey game and created pretty good looks because of that…we just didn’t bury them.”

Should the Islanders play similarly on Monday night in Game 2 of the series, common sense suggests they will be in the thick of it again to further suggest that the first round will not be a cakewalk for the heavily favored Hurricanes. Spitting the first two games in Carolina would be an immeasurable boost for New York when the series shifts to Game 3 on Thursday at UBS Arena. 

“We were calm, we were focused,” Roy said. “I really loved that from our guys.”

“There’s always room for more and to get better… it’s going to be tight out there all series,” defenseman Noah Dobson added. “We just have to find a way to bear down on those good looks we get.”

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