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New York Islanders

Islanders Fall As Andersen Steals Game 1 For Hurricanes



AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

The New York Islanders threw the sink, the fridge and all other household appliances toward the net but couldn’t find a way to put a second puck past Frederik Andersen as they fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at PNC Arena to begin their first-round playoff series.

Andersen stood in the way of 34 shots from the Islanders, stealing a series-opening victory for the Hurricanes.

“We played a really solid game,” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy told reporters in Raleigh. “We did a lot of good things out there. It was a hard-fought game, but we had our chances, and we’re frustrated because we had our chances.”

It took Carolina just 12 seconds into an early first-period power play to jump ahead 1-0, as Evgeny Kuznetsov took advantage of a questionable penalty called on Islanders captain Anders Lee for holding Brady Skjei.

“I didn’t even feel him, to be honest,” Lee told reporters in Raleigh. “I’m just trying to get body position, and next thing I know, I’m going to the box. I talked to the ref about it. We had a conversation, and it was settled.”

A deserved penalty or not, Lee more than made up his infraction when he helped the Islanders even the score at 8:20 of the first period. Connecting with Alexander Romanov, the two set up rookie center Kyle MacLean, who jammed a loose puck into the back of the net for his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game.

“I feel he’s getting more and more confident out there and playing really good hockey,” Roy said of MacLean. “I thought he had another solid game.”

As the game wore on, it began to resemble many from the Islanders’ recent playoff past as a duel between the two netminders held the score at 1-1 through the end of the second period.

Eventually, it was Semyon Varlamov who blinked first, surrendering a goal to Stefan Noesen that made it 2-1 Carolina at 3:44 of the third period. Martin Necas hit an empty net at 18:28 of the frame to lock in the final score.

Varlamov was strong in goal but was rarely challenged, making 24 saves on 26 shots while the Islanders blocked 22 shots in front of him. Meanwhile, Andersen had to do it all on his own for Carolina and only seemed to get stronger the later the game went.

In the second period alone, the Islanders fired 13 shots in the goalie’s direction but were left shaking their heads each time. With the Islanders bearing down with a two-on-one chance, Andersen robbed Kyle Palmieri with a quick glove save and later stoned Mathew Barzal, smothering the shot from in tight by dropping into the butterfly following a defensive zone turnover by Sebastian Aho.

It was early in the third period that Andersen made his best and most logic-defying save.

After falling over in his crease, Andersen had little chance of seeing Noah Dobson’s shot from the point. But after the puck clanged off the sidepost, Andersen–while laying on his back–still had the wherewithal to throw himself in front of the defenseman’s second effort for a save that kept the score tied.

The Islanders’ best opportunity to beat Andersen came on a late power play with a chance to tie the score. But even with chaos around the crease, Palmieri’s attempt slid just wide of the open goal.

“We definitely had a couple of good looks, especially in the third,” Dobson told reporters in Raleigh. “It’s going to be tight throughout the whole series. We just have to find a way to bear down on those good looks.”

Following the loss, the Islanders trail 1-0 in the best-of-seven series. Nevertheless, their effort in Game 1 was encouraging.

“We saw ways that we could be successful,” Palmieri told reporters in Raleigh. “We saw ways that we can limit their chances, and we’ll take a look at it tomorrow. But overall, I think that effort was really good by us, and we absolutely had a chance to win that game.”

The series between the Islanders and Hurricanes continues with Game 2 on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. EST in Carolina.