RALEIGH — For all the talk of a new attitude, a new era of Hurricanes hockey, Thursday’s season-opening sellout at PNC Arena felt awfully familiar. For 58 minutes and 25 seconds, Carolina had failed to get a goal past Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss.
Then with 95 seconds remaining, the narrative changed.
New defenseman Dougie Hamilton, with fellow Calgary import Micheal Ferland screening in front, fired a shot that hit Jordan Staal’s leg and went in.
Unfortunately, Ferland took a penalty with just over 3 seconds remaining in regulation, and Mathew Barzal found Josh Bailey for a one-timer 43 seconds into overtime for a power play goal and a 2-1 Islanders’ win.
But with one point in the bank and a game Friday in Columbus, coach Rod Brind’Amour and his team were happy with what they did in Game 1, even if the end result wasn’t there.
“They got the two points. But I think if we build on that, to me, if we play that way every night, then I think we’ll have a good chance,” Brind’Amour said.
Playing that way included outshooting the Islanders 46-20. There were hit posts — including two by Andrei Svechnikov, making his NHL debut — and opportunities. But Greiss — who also made 45 saves the last time he played in Raleigh, a shutout win — was impenetrable.
With 3:05 left and the Isles clinging to a 1-0 lead, Brind’Amour pulled goalie Petr Mrazek (18 saves).
“We knew when we were going to do it,” Brind’Amour said of getting the sixth attacker on with so much time left. “We’ve talked about that as an organization. That’s where the analytics come in and they tell you, ‘OK, this is the optimal time.’”
After losing a faceoff, Staal got to the front of the net and was joined by Ferland. Hamilton, who curiously didn’t slot on either power play unit all night, wristed a shot from the right boards that ricocheted off Staal and in.
“Obviously Dougie’s got a great release, and I was obviously fortunate to get a good bounce — we finally got a good bounce after 50 shots — off my leg,” Staal said.
After a review for potential goaltender interference on Ferland, the score was tied. The announced 18,680 fans — there were definitely some empty seats in the building — could feel the proverbial wind at their backs.
But Ferland’s trip in the waning seconds of regulation set up a difficult 4-on-3 situation in overtime, and Barzal — last year’s Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year — zipped a pass through the seam that Bailey powered in.
“Three seconds left in the game and they got the power play,” Mrazek said. “That’s a tough call, but nothing we can do about it.”
The Hurricanes dominated the first period, outshooting the Islanders 16-7, but neither team could find the back of the net. Justin Faulk and Svechnikov came closest, each hitting the pipe on Carolina’s first power play opportunity of the season.
Mrazek, despite the light workload, made several good stops when the game was at 0-0, including a scrambling play where he did enough to keep New York from getting on the board.
The game remained scoreless until right before its midway point.
After a Hurricanes turnover, Brock Nelson found Valtteri Filppula alone to Mrazek’s right, and the veteran waited out the Carolina goalie and slipped a shot through the five hole for a 1-0 Islanders lead at 9:27 of the second.
It was a lead that, despite Carolina’s onslaught, nearly held up.
“Hockey’s not always fair,” Brind’Amour said. “I think we were the better team tonight. It just didn’t work out that way.”
Notes: Staal led the Hurricanes in shots of goal (7), hits (8) and in the faceoff circle (19 of 27). … Every Hurricanes player registered a shot on goal. … Carolina was 0-for-3 on the power play and killed both of New York’s 5-on-4 chances, though they did allow the game-winner at 4 on 3. … The game was the 1,525th regular season game behind the bench for new Islanders coach Barry Trotz. Trotz won his first Stanley Cup in his fourth season with the Capitals last season. It is Trotz’s 20th season as an NHL coach — prior to his time with the Capitals, he coached the Predators for 15 seasons. … Phil Di Giuseppe and Haydn Fleury were scratches for the Hurricanes, while Scott Darling (hamstring) and Victor Rask (hand) are both injured.