Category 5: Familiar situation for Hurricanes, Islanders in Game 3

Carolina leads the series 2-0 after winning both of its home games

With defenseman Brett Pesce injured, the Hurricanes are expected to insert Tony DeAngelo into the lineup for Thursday's Game 3 against the Islanders in Elmont, New York. (Jay LaPrete / AP Photo)

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The Carolina Hurricanes will look to put a stranglehold on the New York Islanders when the teams play in Game 3 of their first round series Thursday at UBS Arena on Long Island. The Hurricanes lead the series 2-0 after winning both games in Raleigh

1. I woke up Thursday morning in Garden City, New York — five stops on the Long Island Railroad from Elmont — with deja vu.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was in the same hotel on April 21, 2023, two days after the Hurricanes picked up a dramatic Game 2 win to hold serve at home in their first round series against the Islanders.

Last year, it was Jesper Fast scoring 5:03 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 win in Game 2. On Monday, Carolina scored twice in 9 seconds late in regulation to turn a loss into a win, adding an empty-net goal for a 5-3 victory.

I sit here, same as a year ago, with the same curiosity: Will Carolina push New York to the brink of elimination, or can the Islanders come off the mat after a gut-punch loss?

A refresher on what happened last year’s Game 3: Neither team could score in the opening period, with the Hurricanes outshooting the Islanders 15-7. But New York would take control in the final 40 minutes, opening the scoring just past the game’s midway point on a goal by Casey Cizikas.

Fast — the Game 2 hero — scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game just over four minutes later, but the Islanders outshot Carolina 30-16 in the final two periods and reclaimed the lead with just under four minutes left in the game on a Kyle Palmieri power play goal.

New York added three garbage time goals to finish with a 5-1 win, and the Hurricanes pointed to their three minor penalties in the third period and their power play struggles earlier in the game as the reasons for the loss.

“You can’t just rely on killing penalties, that’s not going to work,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the loss. “So we needed more out of the power play.”

As for the first two games of this series, the Hurricanes have converted 2 of 8 power play opportunities (25%), while the Islanders are 1 of 3 (33%). The special teams battle will likely play a big role in Thursday’s Game 3, and chances are the Islanders will get their share of power play chances.

Last year, Carolina held a 10-4 power play opportunity advantage through two games, and New York got five power plays at home in Game 3 to the Hurricanes’ four.

2. If Carolina does have to rely on its penalty kill in Game 3, they’ll have to do it without two key PKers. Fast remains out with a neck strain and hasn’t practiced with the team since he suffered the injury in the regular season finale at Columbus.

The new loss is defenseman Brett Pesce, who left Monday’s Game 2 just past the midway point and will likely miss the rest of the series, according to Brind’Amour.

“He’s out for, more than likely, this series,” Brind’Amour said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a big part of what we’re doing, so it’s a big blow.”

Pesce played just under 20 minutes in Game 1 and was trending toward a similar total when he was injured on a non-contact play, curling on the ice and coming up lame with a lower-body injury.

3. With Pesce out, Tony DeAngelo skated with Pesce’s usual partner, Brady Skjei, at Wednesday’s practice.

DeAngelo’s second tour of duty hasn’t gone as well as the first, with the 28-year-old playing in just 31 games (and only 11 since the calendar flipped to 2024) this season, totaling three goals and 11 points.

Many of those games came early in the year when Brind’Amour paired DeAngelo with Dmitry Orlov, a pairing that didn’t work out.

“You put great players together, but their skill sets, the way they play, they gotta mesh,” Brind’Amour said when talking about the pairing of Orlov and Jalen Chatfield. With Orlov and Chatfield locked in, that puts the opening for DeAngelo alongside Skjei.

“We know what he is. … He’s maybe the exact opposite (of Pesce), really,” Brind’Amour said. “But certainly a quality player, and we’ve got a lot of faith in him.”

In the 2021-22 playoffs, DeAngelo had a goal and nine assists in 14 games. Six of those points came on the power play, but there’s no guarantee DeAngelo will see power play time Thursday. Brent Burns has locked down the point on PP1, while Skjei has quarterbacked the second unit.

Brind’Amour could opt to put DeAngelo on PP2, especially if Skjei’s minutes grow in the absence of Pesce.

The Hurricanes could also call on rookie Scott Morrow or AHL call-up Dylan Coghlan, but chances are it will be DeAngelo in Game 3.

Islanders enforcer Matt Martin, who was thrown to the ice during a tussle with Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen near the end of Game 2, missed Wednesday’s practice and is considered a game-time decision. Rookie Ruslan Iskhakov would play in Martin’s place if needed. Hudson Fasching is also expected to play, with Simon Holmstrom likely the odd man out.

4. Frederik Andersen will presumably make his third straight start on Thursday, the first time he will start three consecutive Hurricanes games since last postseason.

Andersen stopped 33 of 34 shots in Game 1 but faced just 12 shots on Monday, allowing three goals but picking up the win.

“We’re definitely comfortable with it, it’s just what’s the right thing to do,” Brind’Amour said Tuesday when I asked if he’d go back to Andersen for Game 3.

The Islanders, meanwhile, will make a change in net, with coach Patrick Roy going to Ilya Sorokin after Semyon Varlamov played the first two games of the series.

Roy said during his time playing for Montreal his goaltending partner, Brian Hayward, was like a reliable, comfortable Cadillac, while he was more like a Ferrari.

“It could be a little more bumpy and all this,” Roy said. “So today we’re going with the Ferrari. We had the Cadillac in the first two games, and we’re going with the Ferrari.”

5. The Hurricanes overwhelmed the Islanders in Game 2, limiting New York to just 20 5-on-5 shot attempts while firing 85 of their own, according to In all situations, the advantage was a mind-blowing 110-28, with Carolina outshooting New York 39-12 with 55-17 and 23-9 edges in scoring chances and high-danger chances, respectively.

The Hurricanes had long shifts in the offensive zone several times, particularly in the final two periods, and eventually wore down the Islanders to get the come-from-behind win.

“That was obviously a problem for us last game,” Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech said Thursday morning. “They’re a pretty unique team in the way they forecheck and how aggressive they are, especially their defensemen. … I think the most important thing is just ending it early.”

Ryan Pulock had eight shifts of more than a minute, including a 2:16 one in the second period, and Alexander Romanov had seven. If Carolina hems in the Islanders as they did in Game 2, New York will have its hands full.