Hurricanes overcome ‘unacceptable’ start, rally past Islanders for Game 1 win

Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri stretches to shoot the puck wide of Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen during Carolina’s 3-1 Game 1 win Saturday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — For 40 minutes, the Carolina Hurricanes hardly looked like the Stanley Cup favorite. The Islanders — who needed a late-season push to make the playoffs — had outshot the host team two-to-one in the second period in Game 1 of their first round playoff series that was tied at goal apiece.

Evgeny Kuznetsov used one word to describe the first two periods: “unacceptable.”

“We have a young but veteran team, and a lot of guys have played big games,” Kuznetsov said. “And sometimes you don’t have to say anything — we know. We’re not kids. Nobody has to (have a) babysitter.”

After Frederik Andersen made the save of the night, scrambling from the seat of his pants to punch away a Noah Dobson bid after the Islanders defenseman’s initial shot hit the post in the first minute of the final period, the usual Hurricanes showed up.

Stefan Noesen gave Carolina the lead at 3:44 of the final period, ending a 20-game goal drought from his usual spot in front of the net, to put the Hurricanes ahead and on their way to a 3-1 win that gave them a 1-0 series lead.

“There’s no other way that I know how to do it,” Noesen said of getting to the front of the net to slide a bouncing puck past Semyon Varlamov (22 saves). “I’m not the pretty dingle-dangle guy out there.”

Kuznetsov had started the sequence, floating a shot from the point and defenseman Brady Skjei redirected the puck — “I don’t find myself down there too much,” Skjei said — off New York defenseman Ryan Pulock, and it settled in front for Noesen to backhand in.

“A big finish by Noes,” Skjei said.

Martin Necas’ empty-net goal with 1:32 remaining sealed the win for the Hurricanes.

The Islanders had started the game in the worst possible way, giving Carolina’s second-ranked power play an early opportunity, and the Hurricanes made them pay.

After a failed clear by New York defenseman Adam Pelech, Carolina’s second power play unit set up. Kuznetsov got the puck from a sharp angle in the left circle and found a spot over Varlamov’s right shoulder and under the crossbar to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 just 95 seconds into the game.

“He’s a proven winner,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s done it in the playoffs, and he’s got a Stanley Cup ring to prove it. … There’s certainly no panic in his game in this type of environment. That’s I think what makes him special.”

The Islanders were on their back foot for the first half of the opening period but still managed to tie the game at 8:19 of the first.

Defenseman Alexander Romanov’s point shot was redirected by Islanders captain Anders Lee, and Kyle MacLean — son of former Hurricanes and current Islanders assistant coach John MacLean — battled for the loose puck and scored his first career playoff goal to tie the game 1-1.

The second period was dominated by the Islanders, who outshot Carolina 13-6 but couldn’t get a second goal on Andersen, who made a pair of saves on Kyle Palmieri and Mathew Barzal to keep the game tied.

“You’re excited to play,” said Andersen, who stopped 33 shots, “and obviously you settle into the game a little more.”

Brind’Amour called him the difference in the game.

“This is where you get him for, this time of year,” Brind’Amour said.

Kuznetsov added: “He’s amazing. That’s why he got paid.”

Despite the 1-0 series lead, Carolina will still have to adjust to the playoff intensity with which the Islanders have been playing while making their playoff push.

“I’ll give up the shiny good game for the W,” Kuznetsov said.

Notes: Carolina forward Jesper Fast (upper-body injury) and New York center J-G Pageau (lower-body injury) did not play. … Andrei Svechnikov, playing in his first playoff game in nearly 23 months, finished with six shots on goal and 13 shot attempts. … Jordan Staal had a game-high seven hits and won 11 of 16 faceoffs. … Skjei had two assists and Necas had two points. … Lee had a game-high seven shots on goal.