Islanders hang on, beat Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 5 to cut series deficit

Islanders Hurricanes Game 5
(AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

The Islanders ain’t heard no bell — or hurricane siren — yet. 

Goals from Pierre Engvall, Brock Nelson, and Mathew Barzal supported 34 saves from Ilya Sorokin as the Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 5 on Tuesday night at PNC Arena to keep their season alive and decrease their series deficit to 3-2.

The second unit of Engvall, Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri combined for two goals and three assists to step up offensively when the Islanders needed it most. Their offense was held in check for most of Sunday’s 5-2 loss in Game 4 at UBS Arena to put their season on the brink.

Yet they had to sweat it out at the finish after Carolina’s Sebastian Aho drew the Hurricanes within one with 9:32 remaining in the third period when he snapped a one-timer over Sorokin following an Adam Pelech turnover behind the net.

Just 1:23 later, the Islanders’ Sebastian Aho was penalized for a hold to prevent a Derek Stepan breakaway to give the Hurricanes a man advantage late, but after stellar kill work in the Carolina zone, Carolina’s Aho was whistled for a high stick to end their power play with 43 seconds remaining to take some of the pressure off.

But the Hurricanes continued to come at the Islanders in waves, pulling goalie Antti Raanta with roughly three-and-a-half minutes to go — but Sorokin stood tall to clinch a Game 6 at UBS Arena on Friday night.

Islanders Hurricanes Sorokin Game 5
Carolina Hurricanes’ Stefan Noesen (23) tries to shoot the puck at New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Engvall put the Islanders in front at the 9:33 mark of the first period when he slid a wrist shot through the five-hole of Anti Raanta. The winger was presented the chance alone in front thanks to a Brock Nelson takeaway at the Hurricanes’ blue line, which found the trade-deadline acquisition for his first-career postseason goal. 

It was the first time in 10 playoff games that the Islanders recorded a first-period goal and not indicative of the flow of play. The Hurricanes outshot the Islanders 11-5 in the first period.

New York was nearly burned on special teams again this series when an Alexander Romanov interference penalty with 2:28 to go in the first period put them a man down. A tic-tac-toe set-up found Stefan Noesen wide open for an easy one-timed goal, but Carolina’s entry was quickly deemed offside after Lambert immediately challenged the play. 

The decision guaranteed that the Islanders would hold a lead at the first intermission for the first time in 25 postseason games. 

That second line helped build on New York’s lead, doubling it 3:16 into the second period when Nelson batted an Engvall wrister that hit Carolina’s Aho in the face out of mid-air and into the back of the net. The 25th career postseason goal for Nelson moved him to ninth on the Islanders’ all-time postseason goals list past Brent Sutter.

The Hurricanes halved the Islanders’ lead with 6:50 to go in the second when Paul Stastny tipped a Jalen Chatfield point shot through Sorokin, but Barzal got it right back with 1:55 to go.

Playing 4-on-4 following penalties to Jordan Staal and 20 seconds later to Noah Dobson, Barzal nabbed a turnover just outside the Islanders zone and sped to lead a 2-on-1 with Bo Horvat. Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns played the pass the whole way, giving Barzal ample time to pick out his spot — a laser of a wrister into the top-right corner of the goal.

Anders Lee nearly put the game away and the Islanders up three seven minutes into the third period when he sent a low, spinning wrister on Raanta’s goal, but it hit each of the two posts and stayed out.

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