Friday's NHL playoffs: Staal lifts Hurricanes past Islanders in OT in Game 1

Vin A. Cherwoo
Associated Press
Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal, top right, reacts after scoring an overtime goal on New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40), during Game 1. The Hurricanes won 1-0.

New York — 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 to 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.

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.”

Ryan Pulock fired a slap shot from beyond the left circle that landed in the netting just outside the left goalpost with 41/2 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.

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(At) San Jose 5, Colorado 2: Joe Thornton sparked a three-goal outburst in the second period after San Jose killed off a four-minute penalty, leading the Sharks over the  Avalanche in Game 1.

“The first period was a struggle to be honest with you,” Thornton said. “I don’t think we had too much early on but we kind of felt our groove as the middle of the game went on.”

San Jose trailed 2-1 when Brenden Dillon was called for a high-sticking double minor. The Sharks managed to kill both penalties and then took over the game with a strong performance from the third line.

“That was a game-changer,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We needed that. We talked going into the playoffs and after the first round that our special teams were going to have to win us games. We won one with the power play last game and I thought our penalty kill was a big part of it tonight.”

Thornton tied it midway through the period off a feed from Marcus Sorensen on a 2-on-1 rush shortly after the penalty was killed. Kevin Labanc, the third member of that line, gave the Sharks the lead with an impressive sequence that featured him deking Mikko Rantanen by playing the puck through his legs before scoring from the slot.

Brent Burns added the fourth goal late in the period when his shot from the boards deflected past Philipp Grubauer with Sorensen in front of the net. Thornton got an assist on the play, giving him 100 career helpers in the postseason.

Gustav Nyquist scored the first goal for San Jose, Timo Meier added an empty-netter and Martin Jones made 26 saves to send the Sharks to their fourth straight win. Burns also had three assists.

“It can be tough obviously after a Game 7 like that, but we did a great job,” Jones said. “We hung in there early in the game, and I really liked the job we did in the third. We were grinding them in the o-zone and we didn’t really give them much.”

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday in San Jose.

Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson scored for the Avalanche, who were unable to carry over the momentum from a dominant first-round win against Pacific Division champion Calgary. Grubauer made 22 saves.

“We took five or 10 minutes off in the second and it cost us,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

The intensity in the Shark Tank had dropped a bit from Tuesday night, when San Jose rallied from three goals down in the third period before winning Game 7 in overtime against Vegas.

While the Sharks needed back-to-back overtime games to knock off the Golden Knights, Colorado was resting with six days off after a five-game win over the Flames that sent the Avalanche into the second round for the first time since 2008.

The impact of the reduced rest was felt as captain Joe Pavelski remained sidelined from his concussion in Game 7 and fellow forward Joonas Donskoi remained sidelined from a hard hit in Game 6.

The Avalanche had the edge early and capitalized with Bourque’s goal on a rebound of Cale Makar’s shot just 2:10 into the game.

Jones kept the deficit at one with a brilliant pad save against Carl Soderberg. The Sharks then got the equalizer when Logan Couture won an offensive zone draw to Burns, who maneuvered into the slot and put a shot on net. Grubauer stopped it but Nyquist knocked in the rebound.

Colorado had a goal wiped off later in the period when replays showed Rantanen kicked the puck into the net, and Jones robbed Soderberg again on a breakaway late in the first.

Rantanen helped the Avalanche get on the scoreboard early in the second when he fed Wilson in the slot for a goal on the power play. But the Sharks took over from there.

“We played really good for the first 30 minutes and then it got away from us in the last 10 minutes in the middle of the second,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said. “We just couldn’t get it back. They took it to us at the end of the second period and they had the momentum.”