For a good chunk of Friday night’s festivities in New York, it looked like the series would be headed back to Raleigh.
The Canes and Islanders, playing in game six with the visiting Hurricanes up 3-2, battled it out with New York’s back against the wall, and for two periods it was the Islanders who looked the part of the better team.
But then the Hurricanes turned it on, and an excellent third period highlighted by a game-tying goal from Sebastian Aho was followed up with an overtime winner from Paul Stastny, as Carolina put an end to New York’s season and booked a ticket to the second round.
About last night:
Paul Stastny’s Big Series
Friday night’s game-winning goal, capping a fantastic series, was exactly why the Hurricanes added a guy like Paul Stastny to the mix this past offseason.
Stastny’s signing certainly didn’t make the biggest splash of last summer for the Canes, and his regular season was pretty meh: 9 goals and 13 assists in 73 games played.
But this is the postseason now, and the experience playing this kind of hockey does truly matter. Stastny had skated in 103 postseason games before this season, and this past week and a half he’s been excellent for the Hurricanes.
Stastny finished the series with three goals, highlighted obviously by a smart finish from the corner that beat Ilya Sorokin from a tight angle Friday night to shoot the Canes into the second round.
He scored in games two and five as well, as Stastny’s three goals in the six-game series were tied for the most he had in any six-game stretch this entire season. The three goals were also the second-most he’s scored in a postseason series in his long career, behind only five goals in seven games against the Predators back in 2018.
So for the Canes — and for Stastny — Friday night’s massive moment was a good reminder of just why Paul Stastny is here. He had a very impactful series and come through in some big moments where the Canes needed it.
Flipping a Switch
Whatever Rod Brind’Amour said to the group in the second intermission, it worked.
The Canes in the third period looked a completely different team than the Canes of the first two periods Friday night, as it really did look like a flip switched in the team as it realized it needed to be better to avoid the randomness of a winner-take-all series finale.
In the first two periods, the Islanders outshot the Canes 28-19 and had a 22-16 advantage in scoring chances, while also controlling the Corsi numbers.
But then in the third period, Carolina outshot the Islanders by a staggering mark of 19-5, had an even more impressive 17-3 edge in scoring chances and had a CF% of 78.5.
The Canes came out in the third and looked exactly like a team desperate to avoid game seven. And it worked, clearly.
The Star Stepping Up
Sebastian Aho’s is Carolina’s top star, and there’s not really an argument to be made this postseason with Andrei Svechnikov sidelined.
And the old adage goes that your stars need to be your stars in the big moments.
And that’s exactly what Aho did Friday night, scoring in the third period to even up the game and force overtime.
The goal was a grinded-out goal for the Canes, set up by a great play from Brett Pesce but finished in the crease by Aho being in the area he needed to be at to score. When the Canes had to have a goal, their best player stepped up.
That’s something you have to have in postseason hockey.
- Frederik Andersen, starting his first playoff game as a member of the Hurricanes, was quite good in his return to the ice for Carolina. Big effort from the Dane when called upon.
- Rod Brind’Amour is the second coach to win a playoff series in his first five seasons with a team, which is a pretty remarkable feat honestly.