RALEIGH — Neither the Islanders nor the Hurricanes scored a single power play goal in the four-game season series between the two teams.
Carolina’s power play made sure that wouldn’t be the case in their first round playoff series.
The Hurricanes got power play goals from Sebastian Aho and Stefan Noesen on their first two chances of the night, their penalty kill was perfect and Antti Raanta made 25 saves in a 2-1 Carolina win in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena in Monday’s Game 1 of the first round matchup.
“It’s obviously a lot nicer to put some in than not to,” said Carolina defenseman Brent Burns, who assisted on both goals. “I think it’s more if you’re doing things right and feeling good about it. It’s been building, I think. It’s something we work on every day, and it’s nice to see some go in.”
Both Raanta and the Hurricanes’ penalty kill were equally important. The Islanders were limited to just four shots on goal in eight minutes of power play time, six of which Carolina survived despite having key penalty killers Burns and Brady Skjei in the box.
“The best penalty killer is always your goalie, No. 1,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He made a couple of really good saves. The guys in there blocked some shots. They did what they had to.”
Doing what they had to do seemed to be the theme of the night between the Metropolitan Division rivals. Carolina used its forecheck to pressure the Islanders’ defense and the shutdown line led by Jordan Staal to neutralize New York’s top line that included Mathew Barzal, playing for the first time since he was hurt Feb. 18.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been out,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said of Barzal, “and to come out win a playoff game, in this kind of atmosphere, it’s not an easy thing to do, and I thought he showed well.”
Outside of the goalies — Ilya Sorokin was arguably the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in losing for the fourth time in five games against Carolina this season — the Hurricanes’ much-maligned power play was the star of the show by scoring on its first two opportunities.
With the Islanders’ Hudson Fasching in the penalty box for an offensive zone trip in the game’s opening minutes, Carolina needed just five seconds to convert.
Carolina’s Sebastian Aho won the faceoff cleanly back to Martin Necas at the point. Necas slid the puck over to Burns, who passed to Aho in the right circle for a one-timer that gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead just 3:47 into the game.
“We’ve been doing that (play) all year, and that’s the first time it hit,” Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes pushed their lead to 2-0 — and their power play to 2-for-2 — when Burns’ one-timer was redirected in front by Noesen at 2:27 of the second period.
It was Noesen’s second career playoff goal in his fifth postseason game, with the other coming in 2018 with the Devils in Game 3 of the first round against the Lightning. That goal proved to be a game-winner, and so did Monday’s redirection.
“It’s right where he does his job,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s very, very good at tipping pucks around that 5-foot area.”
The Islanders got their only goal 24 seconds after Noesen scored when defenseman Ryan Pulock’s shot was altered by a stick check from Carolina’s Brady Skjei and fooled Raanta. The fluttering puck rolled up the Hurricanes goalie’s stick and in to halve the lead at 2-1.
But that was all that got by Raanta. The veteran goalie, who wasn’t announced as the Game 1 starter over Frederik Andersen until Monday morning, made two 1-on-1 stops on Anders Lee and Pierre Engvall in the opening minutes of the third period to keep Carolina ahead.
“It was obviously a good way to start the period, get those couple saves and get that good feeling going,” Raanta said.
He then made saves in the final 90 seconds with Sorokin on the bench for an extra attacker to seal the win and give the Hurricanes a 1-0 series lead.
“That’s what you need at this time of year, your goalie to be the best player,” Burns said. “And he was.”
Notes: There were 83 recorded hits in the game, with Pulock leading the Isles with nine and Noesen leading Carolina with six. … Necas and Burns assisted on both Hurricanes goals. … Wednesday’s Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. at PNC Arena.