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Staal lifts Hurricanes past Islanders 1-0 in OT in Game 1

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jordan Staal got the Carolina Hurricanes off to a winning start in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Staal scored 4:04 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night in the series opener.

Nino Niederreiter sent a shot that caromed off the end boards and came out to the right side, where Staal quickly put it in off Robin Lehner’s left skate.

“I had a little room to kind of get a quick-as-I-could shot off,” Staal said about his first career playoff overtime goal. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure it went in. I just saw some people celebrating so I started celebrating, too. I’m not sure exactly how it went in or what.”

Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots for his fifth career postseason shutout as Carolina won in New York just 48 hours after beating defending champion Washington on the road in double-overtime of Game 7 of their first round series. The Hurricanes have now won five of six since losing the first two against Washington.

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The Hurricanes knew they needed to quickly put the victory over the Capitals behind.

“That was our biggest goal for this game, after that big emotion and happiness,” Carolina’s Sebastian Aho said. “Try to push that aside and try to focus on this game, and we did it really well.”

Lehner also finished with 31 saves for New York. Back in Brooklyn at Barclays Center after opening the playoffs at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, the Islanders were playing for the first time in 10 days after finishing off their first-round sweep of Pittsburgh.

“Not the result we wanted,” said Lehner, who has given up just one goal in four straight games. “Small details — small margins in the playoffs. I thought we played a good game. … You don’t want to lose. But we’re not going to win every game.”

Game 2 is back here Sunday.

Both teams had their chances and each goalie made plenty of nice saves throughout the game, the first in Carolina’s playoff history to go to overtime tied 0-0.

“They defense really well,” Aho said. “On the flip side we want to play the same game and don’t give them anything.”

Cal Clutterbuck stole the puck and fired a short-handed shot from the right circle that Mrazek gloved with 9:09 left in the third. Lehner made several saves on the Hurricanes’ power play, including on a tip by Justin Williams with 8:05 left, to keep it scoreless.

“There was good goaltending,” Clutterbuck said. “I don’t think it was a boring 0-0 game. It was a good hockey game.”

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Ryan Pulock fired a slap shot from beyond the left circle that landed in the netting just outside the left goalpost with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation. The arena goal horn sounded and fans started cheering, but the officials immediately waved it off and announced it was no goal.

Jordan Eberle, who scored in each of the four games against Pittsburgh was denied by Mrazek on an odd-man rush less than two minutes into the second period. Lehner had a sensational save on Greg McKegg near the midpoint of the period as he did the split and slid to his left to stop the attempt with his left pad.

Mathew Barzal appeared to give the Islanders the lead with 2:53 left in the middle period, but the goal was immediately waved off and a penalty called on Anders Lee for goalie interference because he fell into Mrazek.

This was the Islanders’ first time back at Barclays Center in more than two months. They split regular-season games between the Brooklyn arena, where they have played since 2015, and the Coliseum, their home the previous 43 years. The Islanders last played at Barclays on Feb. 16 and their two home games in the first round were also on Long Island with any subsequent games they host this postseason to be in Brooklyn.

NOTES: Carolina F Andrei Svechnikov skated in the morning but sat out again. He has not played since he suffered a concussion in a fight with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in Game 3 of the first round. … The Hurricanes were also without F Micheal Ferland (upper body injury) and F Jordan Martinook (lower body). … Niederreiter, who began his careere with the Islanders and spent parts of two seasons in New York before he was traded to innesota in 2013, faced his former team for the first time this season. The Hurricanes acquired him from the Wild on Jan. 17 — after all of Carolina’s four regular-season meetings with the Islanders, and before New York and Minnesota played their two. … Islanders coach Barry Trotz was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the league’s best coach. Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper and St. Louis’ Craig Berube are the other finalists. Trotz previously won the award in 2016 with Washington. Al Arbour won it with the Islanders in 1979.

UP NEXT

Game 2 is Sunday before the series shifts to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4.

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Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

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More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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