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Game 2 Preview: Hurricanes at Islanders

Canes look to take 2-0 series lead in Brooklyn

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs game previews are presented by Visit Raleigh.


NEW YORK - After capturing a 1-0 Second Round series lead on the New York Islanders with a 1-0 overtime win in Game 1, the Carolina Hurricanes have an opportunity to take a commanding advantage in the best-of-seven series before it shifts to Raleigh.

With the victory in Game 1, the Hurricanes have already achieved the desired road split, at least, to begin the series, giving them an early upper-hand in the race to win four games.

"We came here to steal one, and now we can get a little greedy and try to get another one," Justin Williams said after Game 1."

Lessons from Game 1

As Calvin de Haan said, the Hurricanes played "probably the whole game" on pure adrenaline.

They had to. Just 43 hours earlier, Brock McGinn's double overtime heroics sent the team to the Second Round in a dramatic Game 7 finish. There wasn't much time to rest or prepare. It was about riding that wave of momentum right into a new city and a new building against a new opponent in a new series.

"It was an interesting game for us because we didn't have a lot of time to prepare ourselves to play the Isles. It was a quick turnaround," Nino Niederreiter said on Saturday. "We had a lot of energy still left from winning that Game 7 in Washington. Everyone was super excited to just get things going right away."

Physically, there didn't seem to be much holding the Hurricanes back. There was a bit of mental fatigue, but nothing that Petr Mrazek couldn't bail the team out of. Mrazek put together a sparkling performance and made 31 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. Robin Lehner was brilliant at the other end of the ice, as well, but the Canes got the bounce they were looking for.

A Niederreiter shot off the end boards - not a pass, a "missed shot," as he admitted - bounced right to Jordan Staal on the other side of the net, and he popped it in off Lehner's left skate blade for the game-winner 4:04 into overtime.

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

Staal Takes Over

A concussion forced Staal out of the lineup for an extended period of time this season, and while all he could do was watch, the Canes kept winning.

"He just didn't know when he was coming back, and to be honest, he even didn't know if he was coming back," Brind'Amour said. "He just cares so much about our group. I think he actually felt like he was going to disrupt what we were doing when all I kept telling him was, man, imagine if you do come back what a team we could be."

"When you're not playing for a while and the team is doing well without you, it's easy for those thoughts to creep into your mind," Williams said. "I know he's really proud of what we did when he was out of the lineup to give him an opportunity to come back, shine, be healthy and be what he is to this team. I can't say enough good things about him."

GAME 2 PROJECTED LINEUP

When Staal returned to the lineup, he was a force. He was nearly a point-per-game player down the stretch with 17 points (6g, 11a) in his last 21 games.

Now, he's back in the dance for the first time since 2012, and he's thriving.

Staal ranks second on the team in playoff points (7), and he's tied for the team lead in playoff goals (4). He's scored goals in three straight games, and they've all been critical. In Game 6 of the First Round, he broke a 2-2 tie in the third period with what would be the game-winning goal. In Game 7, he scored a goal in the third period to tie the game at three and force extra hockey. And, in Game 1 of the Second Round, he scored the lone goal of the game, another game-winner, this time in overtime.

"He expects to be great," Brind'Amour said. "He's got confidence now. Look out."

"He just does so many good things for us. I'm glad he's got a few goals here lately and is getting some recognition for it," Williams said. "At the end of the day, we know how good he is. We know what he brings to the game. He's getting more confident as he scores goals, and that's a scary thing for other teams."

Game-Time Decisions

Jordan Martinook was held out of Game 1 with a persistent lower-body concern that he gutted out in Games 6 and 7 of the First Round. He remains a game-time decision for Game 2.

"Nothing different on that front," Brind'Amour said. "It's day-to-day with all these guys."

That includes Andrei Svechnikov, who has been in the concussion protocol since Game 3 of the First Round.

"He's getting close. I think he's passed everything," Brind'Amour said on Friday night. "We haven't had the right practice time for him to feel real comfortable, and we're not going to put him in if he's not comfortable."


ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Sunday Best

The Hurricanes need their best effort this afternoon. The Islanders will be playing desperate hockey in attempt not to fall down 2-0 in the series, so the Canes need to counter with a solid effort.

2. Seconds and Thirds

Rebounds are available for the taking. Set up shop around the net in order to be able to cash in on these second and third opportunities.

3. Limit Mistakes

Some mental miscues and turnovers led to quality scoring chances for the Islanders in Game 1. Petr Mrazek was there to bail his team out, but the Hurricanes will want to try to limit what they surrender to the opposition.


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