Kyle MacLean game 3 tonight bug

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Kyle MacLean looked right at home for the New York Islanders during his first two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Perhaps that is because the rookie forward felt right at home at PNC Arena, where the Islanders opened the Eastern Conference First Round against the Carolina Hurricanes. He was at one of several childhood homes during the playing and coaching career of his father, Islanders assistant coach John MacLean.

John was a Hurricanes assistant from 2011-14. Kyle, now 24, was a teenager, haunting the building like so many other children of players and coaches. He played hockey in the hallways, cheered on the team, jumped on the ice when he could.

Kyle played for the Junior Hurricanes, the elite travel team in Raleigh. One of his teammates was Skyler Brind'Amour, an Edmonton Oilers forward prospect and son of current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour.

He says, of course, he dreamed of scoring goals at PNC Arena for the Hurricanes when he was a kid. Instead, he scored his first NHL postseason goal here as a member of the opposition, getting the Islanders' only goal in a 3-1 loss in Game 1 on Saturday.

"Probably back in the day I was more of a Hurricanes fan, when my (dad) was coaching (here)," MacLean said on the off day before Game 2, a 5-3 loss Monday that sent the Islanders home trailing the best-of-7 series 2-0. Game 3 is at UBS Arena on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; MSGSN, BSSO, ESPN2, SN360, TVAS).

"Not so much anymore."

No, now he's the enemy. One of 20 men decked out in white jerseys who were booed incessantly, mercilessly, throughout the two games. He was a villain where once he was a member of the rabid Caniac tribe that helps make PNC Arena such a difficult place to play.

"I watched a lot of games and came to a lot of games in this building," MacLean said. "I'm familiar with some of the staff over on the other side and familiar with Raleigh in general, so it was cool to play a game in this city, in this building."

And he was noticeable.

He scored in Game 1, beating elite defenseman Jaccob Slavin to a loose puck and pushing it past goalie Frederik Andersen. In Game 2, MacLean (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) had a spirited fight with Carolina forward Stefan Noesen, a bigger, older player (6-1, 205; age 31). He also appeared to score again at 11:08 of the third period, but video review determined his stick was above the height of the crossbar when he directed the puck into the net.

NYI@CAR R1 Gm1: MacLean snipes in the loose puck out front

Not bad for an undrafted player who played five seasons for Oshawa in the Ontario Hockey League and was in his fourth season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League when he was called up by New York on Jan. 19.

"I think right from the beginning he's been impactful for us," Islanders forward Mathew Barzal said. "He's definitely been a spark for us and added some key depth down the middle. Everyone in [our] room is pumped for him. Just the way he is playing. He is a great kid, we're lucky to have him.

"I think his IQ and skill probably go a little underrated, to be honest with you. You watch him out there and he makes a lot of plays, makes a lot of right plays and is in the right position a lot of times."

A typical coach's son.

Brind'Amour said he wasn't surprised to see Kyle MacLean on the ice for a Stanley Cup Playoff game. He helped coach him with the Junior Hurricanes when he wasn't busy with his full-time job. The skills and work ethic were apparent even then.

"He's here every summer training with Skyler and has been for many years," Brind'Amour said. "We're definitely good friends in the summer, not so much right now. Didn't like that he got us (in Game 1), but I saw how hard he's worked. Everything that he is doing now, he's earned it."

Brind'Amour may have had mixed emotions when MacLean scored. Not so much for Tripp Tracy, the longtime color analyst for the Hurricanes.

Tracy became good friends with John MacLean during the latter's coaching tenure here on Kirk Muller's staff. He has watched Kyle grow and chase his dream, even helping by loaning him his apartment one summer when Kyle was here working out with Bill Burniston, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Hurricanes.

So when Kyle scored in Game 1, Tracy was happy.

"I was excited about, of course I want to see Carolina have success, but …" he said. "The whole thing was just pretty darn neat."