The Canes went down 1-0 early but took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and battled throughout the lineup to beat their division foes.
Here are some takeaways from Thursday’s commanding win:
A (Jesper) Fast start
One of the most intriguing things about any opening night game is seeing how ready a team is when the puck finally drops, and the Hurricanes looked ready to go from the very start.
Carolina outskated and outplayed the Islanders for most of the first period, even despite going down 1-0. The Canes came out fast and strong, controlling the puck for the opening minutes and getting a few good chances that were turned away by Ilya Sorokin.
The Islanders opened the scoring on a goal that was a near-great save by Frederik Andersen (and given to New York via review two minutes later), but even that tally wasn’t representative of how the period went as a whole.
Carolina, dominating the game, answered right back, as Svechnikov camped himself in front of the net and tipped in a point shot from Teuvo Teravainen.
A few minutes later on an offensive zone faceoff win from Jordan Staal, Jaccob Slavin released a wrister that found the stick of Jesper Fast and subsequently the back of the net.
Looks like Jesper is off to a fast start. He deflects Slavin's shot and the Hurricanes have a 2-1 lead. pic.twitter.com/BxPh0jUMUL— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) October 14, 2021
As a team, the Canes outshot the Islanders 8-6 in the opening frame, and dominated pretty much every other stat across the board as well. The Hurricanes had a 65.52 team clip in CF%, and won the expected goals battle as well.
And of course the Canes won the most important stat of the first period as well, heading into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead in the game.
Getting a season started on the right foot, especially with a lineup full of so many fresh faces, can be tough, but the Hurricanes looked excellent when the puck dropped.
Some very special teams
A big reason for the Hurricanes’ successes last year was the special teams play, and that certainly carried over into Thursday night’s season opener.
On the power play, the Hurricanes went 2 for 5, but easily could have found a goal on any of the four man-advantage opportunities. During 6:47 of power play time, the Canes had eight shots, four high-danger chances and had a CF% of a staggering 93.3%.
With Dougie Hamilton gone, newcomer Tony DeAngelo quarterbacked the top unit and did a really great job in the role. He finished the game with a team-high five shots and two assists, with two of those shots and one assist coming on the power play.
After three scoreless but positive power plays, the Hurricanes finally broke through with the man advantage in the third period on a clinical goal from Teravainen. Svechnikov threaded a beautiful cross-ice pass to Teravainen, who fed it back to DeAngelo, who got it back to the Finnish winger for the snipe. The Canes added an empty net power play goal as well.
My friends, it's Turbo Time. pic.twitter.com/JLMdFS8C4P— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) October 15, 2021
On the other side of the special teams equation, the Hurricanes’ penalty kill was absolutely stifling all night long. The Islanders went 0 for 3 with the man advantage, playing over five minutes of power play hockey without registering a single shot.
“That was a big part of the game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “We only had one power-play goal, but I felt like every power play was dangerous and we could have had a couple more. So that was encouraging. And the kill looked good, solid. We know that in this day and age and this game, that’s the key. Special teams are huge, so it was good tonight.”
The special teams were quite special on opening night, a great sign for a team with so many new pieces in key roles.
A great showing from the fresh blue liners
Three of the six members of Carolina’s blue line joined the team this offseason, with DeAngelo pairing with fellow newcomer Ian Cole and Ethan Bear taking over Hamilton’s spot as the partner to Slavin.
And in their first games as members of the Hurricanes, all three of those new defensemen played really strong games.
DeAngelo, along with his power play contributions, was stellar in defense, making a highlight-reel recovery play early in the game after misplaying a puck in the offensive zone.
Cole was paired with DeAngelo, and together the two did a great job of shutting down some lower lines of the Islanders.
Bear was with Slavin and played really well, picking up an assist early in the game, playing sound defense throughout and threading a wonderful breakout pass in the third period to Derek Stepan.
The three blue liners played really well, with arguably the weakest pairing of the night being the one duo with previous experience playing together in Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce (though they spent most of the time against New York”s very talented top line).
“The newer players, the guys that have joined us, I thought, played really well,” Brind’Amour said. “I was actually pleasantly surprised, other than a couple hiccups here or there. I felt like they looked like they’d been around for a long time.”
Depth on display
One of the biggest strengths for this Carolina team could be its depth, and that was on full display Thursday night in PNC Arena.
“It’s nice when you can roll four lines and feel confident in them, have a fourth line with the veteran guys that we have there,” Brind’Amour said. “That means a lot to you. It’s a good first step, and we’ll get back at it again tomorrow. But it’s a nice win.”
Defensively, the “third pairing” of DeAngelo and Cole were very good. Offensively, some of the depth players contributed in really big ways.
Nino Niederreiter and Jesper Fast both scored goals, neither playing on the top line for the Canes, and the fourth line even contributed a stunning finish.
This goal probably won't go on Nino Niederreiter's career highlight reel, but it counts.— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) October 15, 2021
The Hurricanes have a 4-2 lead on opening night! pic.twitter.com/m4O2ZyYW3f
A fantastic shift from the fourth line of Jordan Martinook, Stepan and Steven Lorentz ended in a goal for Martinook, who got the puck into the corner before eventually picking it up off a bounce and netting it past Sorokin.
Jordan Martinook, known sniper.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 15, 2021
(That's Derek Stepan perched out front, where the Canes have done a nice job thus far tonight.) pic.twitter.com/p4DNh4u2cm
The depth is very, very good for this Hurricanes team. All four lines have goal scorers, and all four lines have the ability to be on the ice in key moments and contribute. It’s a luxury for sure, and one that was on display in the season opener.
“We’ve got a pretty deep team,” Teravainen said. “We’ve got all four lines that can score and play both ways. That’s how we want to play. When we do that, we have a pretty good chance to win.”
All in all, it was a great opening game for the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night. There were some defensive lapses that could be cause for concern, and the goaltending from Frederik Andersen wasn’t phenomenal, but a 6-3 win is a great result.
There’s a lot to build on for the Canes, who showed Thursday that a lot of the new additions to the team are the real deal.