For the second time in as many days, Pyotr Kochetkov earned a win for the Hurricanes.
That was the positive. The negative could have much bigger implications.
The Hurricanes, already without No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, saw Antti Raanta leave Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Islanders with a lower-body injury in the second period.
“I don’t know how bad Rants is,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the game. “I’m hoping it’s not too serious. We’ll know more in a couple days.”
Raanta’s injury — which occurred with just over seven minutes left in the second period when he made a kick save on a Noah Dobson shot — left Kochetkov at the top of Carolina’s goaltending depth chart.
“Koochie’s come in and played really, really well,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “So we’re gonna continue to fight for him in front and play well for him, and we’ll keep moving on.”
Kochetkov — who came to North America following his KHL season on Feb. 15 after being assigned to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves — made his NHL debut Saturday when the Hurricanes rallied to score twice in the final five minutes and won on Seth Jarvis’ overtime goal to give the 22-year-old Russian a victory in his first start.
Sunday on Long Island, Kochetkov allowed a goal on the first shot he faced, a power play goal by Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock that tied the game 2-2, but stopped the remaining seven to improve to 2-0-0 in his weeklong NHL career.
“It kind of boosts your confidence as a group when you have a guy like that that can come in and kind of save the day,” Hurricanes forward Max Domi said of Kochetkov.
And for the second straight day, the Hurricanes won the third period to earn two points.
After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Domi got to the front of the net and received a pass from below the goal line from Teuvo Teravainen that he shoveled over the right shoulder of New York goalie Ilya Sorokin (29 saves) at 5:40 of the final period to put Carolina ahead for good.
“That game-winning goal was great work by everybody,” Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes then locked down in support of Kochetkov, allowing just five shots on goal the rest of the way as Carolina added late empty-net goals by Jesper Fast and Brendan Smith.
“When he came in, I think everyone kind of tightened up to help out a teammate, and the kid did a great job overall,” Hurricanes forward Derek Stepan said.
Brind’Amour’s team will have to do more of the same while it waits to find out the status of both Raanta and Andersen. Carolina can clinch the Metropolitan Division with a win in either of its last two regular season games Tuesday at the Rangers and Thursday when the Devils come to Raleigh.
“We’re facing a little adversity, obviously,” Domi said. “It’s going to be the first test of your character as a group, and we’ve definitely passed that test a few times.”
The Hurricanes looked like they might be on their way to an easy win on Long Island when they jumped out to a two-goal lead.
Playing in his first game in nearly a week, Stepan hounded the Islanders’ Dobson and deflected a pass, quickly wrangling the puck and shooting it past Sorokin for his ninth goal of the season and a 1-0 lead just 2:25 into the game.
“I want to continue to make it hard to keep me (out of) the lineup and continue to focus in on what I can do to help,” Stepan said.
Then Jarvis — playing on the top power play unit with Vincent Trocheck scratched for a rest day — scored for the third straight game and extended his point streak to five when he received a pass from Andrei Svechnikov and, to Sorokin’s right, quickly spun and scored into the top right corner for his 17th goal of the season at 8:09.
The Islanders chipped away at the lead, with Ross Johnston scoring on Raanta (17 saves) at 18:25 of the first period before Pulock’s goal tied the game late in the second.
Domi’s goal put Carolina back ahead, and the Hurricanes finished off the Isles to earn their fourth straight win, giving them 52 for the season and 112 points — matching the 2005-06 Stanley Cup-winning team in both categories.
They have two games to surpass them, and it looks like they’ll be doing it without Andersen and Raanta and with a rookie in net.
“What’re you gonna do? Cry over it?” Brind’Amour said. “We just gotta keep moving forward and, thankfully, we brought him over (from Russia). It’s not what you draw up, it’s not what you want to have happen — injuries to anybody, especially the goalies.
“But hopefully neither will be too serious and we’ll get them back.”
Notes: Fast got his 14th goal and 34th point of the season, both new career highs. The empty-net goal was also the 200th point of his NHL career. … Kochetkov is the first Hurricanes rookie goalie to win his first two NHL decisions since Justin Peters won his first three in 2010. Kay Whitmore, who won his first two starts with the Whalers in 1989, is the only other. … Jack LaFontaine, who struggled in two appearances with the Hurricanes earlier this season, is the goalie likely to be recalled from the Chicago Wolves if Raanta’s injury keeps him out of Tuesday’s game.