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Game 1 Recap: Staal, Canes Win in Overtime

Petr Mrazek posts 31-save shutout in 1-0 OT win

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

BROOKLYN - Just 48 hours after a dramatic, double overtime victory in Game 7 of the First Round, the Carolina Hurricanes began the Second Round with another overtime win, this by the score of 1-0 against the New York Islanders.

Jordan Staal tallied the game-winning goal at the 4:04 mark of the extra period, and Petr Mrazek stopped all 31 shots he faced in his second shutout of this postseason.

Here are five takeaways from Game 1.

1. The Shape of Things to Come

When previewing on Friday morning what to expect in this Second Round series, both head coach Rod Brind'Amour and captain Justin Williams cautioned against what would be a grinding, tight series.

"[The Islanders] are prepared. They're smart. They don't give you anything for free. That's fine, because neither do we," Williams said on Friday morning. "I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of one-goal games in this series."

That's exactly what transpired in Game 1 and likely what's in store for the remainder of what's guaranteed to be a tight series. Both teams take pride in their defensive games, and both teams boast goaltenders who have played very well this season.

"It wasn't pretty. I think both teams will say they didn't play very well," Williams said after the game. "It wasn't a pretty game, but it was pretty in the end."

Capitalizing on quality opportunities is key, and the Hurricanes were able to do so when they needed to most: in sudden-death overtime.

"It's going to be another grind, a different kind of grind. It's a very smart, defensive, patient team that doesn't give you much," Staal said. "We have to stay patient, play our game, keep shooting pucks and doing the simple things that got us to where we're at."

"We know how these guys play, and it's kind of an annoying style to play against. They've got enough skill up on that team that they're pretty opportunistic," said former Islander Calvin de Haan. "They played a good game. We got a pretty fortunate bounce at the end, and we'll take it."

Annoying.

"It's a good word," Brind'Amour chuckled. "It's because they're good. They do it right. It's hard. At this time of year, that's what playoff hockey is. It's hard. You have to earn every chance."

2. Staal Breaks Through in Overtime

When the horn sounded to end regulation, the Hurricanes were faced the reality of having to play more extra hockey, just 48 hours after they went into double overtime in a seven-game series.

A loss would have been emotionally draining. A long overtime period - or, more than one overtime period - would have been physically draining.

"You want it to end quick, one way or the other. You just didn't want this to drag on again because that's really going to have effects later on," Brind'Amour said. "Happy with the win, and happy that it really didn't drag on."

Staal took care of business for the Hurricanes just over four minutes into overtime. Nino Niederreiter put a shot wide of the net in the slot, but the puck bounced right to Staal, where he banged in a shot off the outstretched left pad of Robin Lehner for his first career overtime goal in the playoffs.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm1: Staal fires home the overtime winner

"It snuck through him," Staal said. "I'm not sure where it ended up going, but yeah, I was glad to get one and be able to finish the game."

"You could make a case for Jordan for MVP of this team," Williams said. "He just does everything for us. You just don't doubt that he's going to get it done, ever. He's such an integral part of this team, it's silly."

3. Mrazek Magic

Mrazek was dialed in from the drop of the puck to the moment Staal's goal ended Game 1.

He, along with Lehner in the opposite crease, were the reasons this game had goose eggs on the scoreboard for 60 minutes of regulation.

"Petey, especially to start that game, kind of bailed us out on a few," Staal said. "He's a gamer. He finds ways to make those big saves at the right time."

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm1: Mrazek blanks Islanders with 31 saves

Some of Mrazek's finest and perhaps most important work came in the first period when the Islanders, with a goal or two, could have taken an early lead and then shut down the remainder of the game.

Valtteri Filppula was open in the slot, taking advantage of a failed Hurricanes clear, and Mrazek exploded to his right to body down the shot.

Later, Josh Bailey broke in uncontested after Williams turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Mrazek flashed the leather and kept the crowd at Barclays Center at bay.

"That could have been the game right there," Brind'Amour said.

"Both goalies were pretty phenomenal," Williams said. "If we have to play 1-0 games the whole series, we'll be patient enough to do that."

4. Close Calls

The goal horn at Barclays Center sounded twice tonight, but neither time did a goal go up on the board for the Islanders.

Mathew Barzal potted what looked to be a rebound goal for the Islanders in the second period, but it was immediately waved off, and a goaltender interference penalty was assessed to Anders Lee, who made contact with Mrazek at the top of the blue pain. Lee didn't have much room to move, as he was engaged with Lucas Wallmark, but the Canes will take that call.

In the third period, Ryan Pulock and the Islanders thought they had scored a power-play goal, but the puck from his slap shot got lodged in the outside of the net, an easy no goal call.

"Those are the games that one bad bounce can change anything," Mrazek said.

5. Digging Deep

The Hurricanes had played 91:05 of emotional hockey just 48 hours prior.

Were the effects of that evident?

Brind'Amour's eyes got wide when I asked him the question.

"Oh, yeah. To me, that's the thing I give our group the biggest credit for tonight is somehow figuring out how to match the intensity right away. We didn't have a bad first period," he said. "I thought we dug in considering what I thought could happen."

It had been 10 days since the Islanders had last played a playoff game. The Hurricanes, it felt like, had just been celebrating Brock McGinn's heroics.

De Haan said they were able to ride that adrenaline "probably the whole game, to be honest."

Williams was asked a similar question. "Nope, we felt great, 100 percent the whole time," he smiled.

The Hurricanes will remain off the ice on Saturday before an afternoon tilt in Game 2.

"Rest at this time of year is big. I can't imagine we're going to put the boots on tomorrow," de Haan said. "You've got 16 minutes before a hockey game to get going, so it's all good."

Up Next

Game 2 is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. in Brooklyn.

"We came here to steal one, and now we can get a little greedy and try to get another one," Williams said.

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