Facing elimination and another long summer, the New York Islanders capitalized on turnovers, tightened the screws defensively, and got a little luck, too. The Islanders beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 5 at PNC Arena., forcing Game 6 Thursday night at UBS Arena.
There’s hope yet.
Bo Horvat put his name on the scoresheet with an assist on Mathew Barzal’s goal in the second period, which stood as the winner. Carolina pressed and attacked throughout the third period, but Islanders backstop Ilya Sorokin saw the shots and stopped 34 of 36.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Carolina outchanced the Islanders 26-13, but wins are what counts. Oddly, the Islanders and Carolina each had 10 high-danger chances.
Islanders winger Pierre Engvall, acquired in a low-key deal at the NHL trade deadline that had big dividends, scored the game’s first goal. Midway through the first period, Engvall gave the Islanders the important (and rare) 1-0 lead. Engvall’s forecheck created a Carolina turnover. Brock Nelson snared that turnover and fed Engvall in front of the net for the lead.
Early in the second period, Engvall returned the favor to Nelson, kind of. On the scoresheet, Engvall is listed as getting the primary assist on Nelson’s goal, but in reality, it was a fluky goal. Engvall’s long wrister hit Carolina’s Sebastian Aho in the face. As the puck fluttered in the air, Nelson whacked it past Carolina goalie Antii Raanta for a 2-0 lead.
Aho briefly left the game but returned and scored a mid-third-period goal to increase the drama in the final minutes.
The Islanders got their much-needed insurance goal late in the second period. With less than two minutes remaining, Barzal picked Martin Necas’ pocket like he was walking through Time Square.
Barzal completed the two-on-one rush by burying a wrister from the left wing,
The Islanders were not credited with a shot in three power-play opportunities and 3:38 of man-advantage time. They had only 22 shots in Game 5 but two shorthanded shots on goal. Protecting the house in the third period, the Islanders had only five shots on goal in the final period.
Engvall and Nelson each had two points (1-1-2). Coach Lane Lambert was able to roll all four lines as Hudson Fasching received the least ice time but still played 12 minutes.
The Islanders’ PK, which has been a little bit of an adventure in the series, held Carolina to 0-for-4 on the advantage with five shots on goal.
Carolina leads the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 will be at UBS Arena Thursday.
Editor’s Note: A small health issue with NYI Hockey Now’s new beat writer prevented this story from being posted Tuesday evening.