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Center Depth Leads Hurricanes to Shutout Win in Aho’s Absence

Production from the middle of the ice led the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-0 shutout win over the New York Islanders.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With Sebastian Aho out of the lineup on Saturday for the first time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes went fishing for a win on Long Island.

Coming off of their first loss of the road trip, an overtime defeat in Anaheim, the Hurricanes fought through two impactful injury absences up front and locked down the New York Islanders’ offense en route to a 3-0 shutout win.

The Hurricanes had to turn to their penalty killers in a big spot early in the first period. Brett Pesce and Brent Burns took minor penalties just 40 seconds apart, giving the Islanders an opportunity to strike first.

An Anders Lee interference penalty cut the 5-on-3 short, though, and the Canes had a dominant showing through the rest of the kill.

The bulk of the play during the opening period was in the neutral zone. Neither team managed to establish any sustained offense until a late-period Islanders penalty. The Hurricanes couldn’t score on the man advantage, but they generated several quality opportunities.

The second period was just about as bogged down as the first period, but the Hurricanes pushed through the opening goal.

Paul Stastny’s backdoor goal off of a great touch pass from Andrei Svechnikov ended the first-year Hurricane’s 25-game drought to open his tenure with the club.

That goal kicked off a string of goals down the middle of the Hurricanes' lineup. Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s deflection of a Burns point shot in the early stages of the third period pushed the Carolina lead to two goals. Just under five minutes later, Jordan Staal went to the front of the net and slammed home an alley-oop pass from Jordan Martinook to make it 3-0.

On a night without their number-one, do-it-all center, it was the Hurricanes’ depth down the middle of the ice that stepped up and served as the driving force behind a tight-checking road win against a divisional rival.

Kotkaniemi and Stastny had combined for just two goals this season entering Saturday’s game, and they managed to double that total against the Isles.

Staal’s line, which featured Stefan Noesen in Jesper Fast’s absence, led all Canes forward lines in 5-on-5 ice time and gave up just one Islanders shot attempt. Staal’s third-period goal was his second tally in as many games.

In his third game back from missing nearly a month due to injury, Teuvo Teravainen logged his most minutes in a regulation game all season. He tied his season-high with five shots on goal and secured a secondary assist on Kotkaniemi’s goal in the second period, his first point since November 10. Burns’ primary assist on the goal extended his point streak to four games.

Martin Necas didn’t make it onto the scoresheet, but he was outstanding. He was around the puck all night, and Carolina’s offense ran through him when he was on the ice.

The early penalty kill set the tone for a dominant defensive effort. The Islanders put just 16 shots on Pyotr Kochetkov, but the rookie goalie was perfect when called upon en route to his second NHL shutout.

The Hurricanes are now 4-0-1 on the road trip with one game left to go. They will close it out on Tuesday when they take on the Detroit Red Wings.