Hurricanes seize chances, win 5-2 to push Islanders to brink

Seth Jarvis scored twice, Sebastian Aho had three points and Mackenzie MacEachern had a goal and an assist in his Hurricanes debut

Hurricanes forward Mackenzie MacEachern celebrates with defenseman Brett Pesce after scoring a goal during Carolina's 5-2 win in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Islanders on Sunday in Elmont, New York. (Frank Franklin II / AP Photo)

ELMONT, N.Y. — Antti Raanta ripped a pair of pants making a save on Sunday. He and the Hurricanes may have also ripped the will out of the Islanders.

The Carolina goalie made 27 saves to outduel New York’s Ilya Sorokin, and the Hurricanes took advantage of their opportunities in a 5-2 win in front of 17,255 at UBS Arena that gave them a commanding 3-1 lead in the first round series.

“It takes four wins,” Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. “So we’ve got one more to go. Obviously, today was a big one.”

Seth Jarvis had two goals, Mackenzie MacEachern — in his Hurricanes debut — posted a goal and an assist, and the team’s much-maligned power play scored twice to put Carolina in position to end the series in Tuesday’s Game 5 in Raleigh.

Up and down the lineup, Carolina found ways to plug holes in a boat that continues to take on water due to the injuries. The latest is to rookie Jack Drury, who was boarded by Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock just 3:30 into the game and did not return.

But unlike Friday’s Game 3 when the Islanders both dictated play and dealt out punishment, the Hurricanes made New York pay for its indiscretions on Sunday.

Pulock’s penalty gave Carolina an early 5-on-3, and the Hurricanes converted when a Brent Burns knuckle puck resulted in a rebound to Stefan Noesen, who passed to Jarvis left of the net for a 1-0 Carolina lead at 4:05 of the first period.

“To be able to capitalize on that was huge for us,” Jarvis said. “I mean, 5-on-3s, you have to score. You don’t get many of those, so you have to take advantage of them.”

Sebastian Aho said the Hurricanes were specifically motivated to score after seeing Drury, who did not return to the game, helped off the ice.

“You go out there and we want to make them pay, right?” he said. “You want to do that for your brother.”

Noesen then set up the second power play goal early in the second period. With Islanders enforcer Matt Martin in the box after he was called for roughing at the end of the first period, Aho fed the puck to the goal line to Noesen, who quickly snapped the puck to Martin Necas on the back door for a 2-0 lead 75 seconds into the middle frame.

“We were ready to play right off the bat,” Aho said, “and obviously, it’s just a big goal on the 5-on-3 there. It gave us a lot of momentum and just kind of took off from there.”

With Drury out of the lineup, it presented an even bigger opportunity for MacEachern. The 29-year-old, recalled Thursday from AHL Chicago after Teuvo Teravainen’s hand was broken by a slash in Game 1, had six games of playoff experience from the 2020 bubble with St. Louis but battled injuries much of this season with the Wolves.

He replaced Derek Stepan on the fourth line for Game 4, but he was elevated to the spot opposite Jarvis on Aho’s line when Drury exited the game.

“I just didn’t have really much choice,” Brind’Amour said of moving up MacEachern. “Sometimes it’s easy; choices are made for you. When you’re short, you’re just looking at the next guy up and then hoping that it sticks a little.”

MacEachern more than earned his keep.

Just past the midway point of the game with Carolina up 2-0, he joined Aho on the rush after Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov fanned on a dump-in. Aho passed to MacEachern, who then lifted a backhand pass over Pulock that Aho finished at 13:30 to extend the lead to 3-0.

Jarvis’ second goal pushed the lead to 4-0, but New York got some life when defenseman Adam Pelech jumped on a loose puck in front and scored at 3:14 of the third.

MacEachern quickly quieted the UBS Arena crowd.

Defenseman Brady Skjei kept a puck in along the left boards and attempted a shot that was deflected by the stick of Islanders forward Hudson Fasching. The puck kicked right to MacEachern in the slot, and he snapped a shot past Sorokin (24 saves) for a 5-1 lead with just under six minutes remaining.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” MacEachern said. “I played a couple playoff games with St. Louis, but it was in the bubble. So it wasn’t the atmosphere that we saw this afternoon.”

And the moment certainly wasn’t too big for the seven-year pro.

“It was just unreal stuff to see him come in and play that level,” Aho said.

A Bo Horvat shorthanded goal with 2:03 left — the Isles’ big-ticket deadline addition’s first point of the series — mattered little as the Hurricanes picked up their first regulation win in an opposing team’s building since beating the Islanders at Barclays Center in Game 2 of their second round series on April 28, 2019.

“It’s not good when you can’t win on the road and only win at home,” said Jarvis, who was a 17-year-old junior player when the Hurricanes won that game. “So it’s nice to take one here. And just going to Carolina, hopefully we can end it.”

Notes: MacEachern tied for the game lead with five hits, and Carolina outhit the Islanders 39-31. … Aho finished with three points, and his five points are tied with Burns (five assists) for the most points in the series. … Noesen has four points in the series, all on the power play.