The Carolina Hurricanes have tackled adversity in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Obviously, we’re short-handed up front like you wouldn’t believe,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We keep firing away. It’s impressive.”
The Hurricanes have shown so much resiliency that they will attempt to clinch the series Tuesday with a 3-1 lead on the New York Islanders. Carolina is back home after a split on the road to play Game 5 at Raleigh, N.C.
The Islanders did their best to keep pace with the Hurricanes in the first three games. That didn’t happen in Carolina’s 5-2 victory Sunday in Game 4. That was the first time the Hurricanes created much-needed breathing room in the series.
“Having a lead is a lot more reassuring,” Brind’Amour said.
“We’ll regroup,” New York left winger Anders Lee said. “We’ll do our best to make sure we have another game in (our home arena).”
Carolina has held 3-1 series leads four times previously, going on to win each of those matchups. The Islanders have come back to capture a series when trailing by 3-1 only twice in 15 tries and last doing so in 1987 vs. the Washington Capitals.
Goalie Antti Raanta has worked all four games in the nets for Carolina and there’s no reason to expect a change at this point. Brind’Amour’s instructions seem rather basic.
“Keep us in the game,” he said. “And that’s what he has done in all of his starts. So good on him, that’s for sure.”
Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen has been listed as either ill or injured for the past few games, limiting the Hurricanes’ options. Pyotr Kochetkov was the backup again Sunday.
Carolina’s postseason already has taken twists and turns. They’ve lost forward Teuvo Teravainen to hand surgery, while Mackenzie MacEachern has joined the fray after spending all season in the minor leagues. He provided a goal and an assist Sunday.
“It’s a pretty easy group to step into,” MacEachern said. “I got to know a few of them during training camp, but it’s an unbelievable group. They’re a bunch of nice guys. They made me feel pretty welcome right away. It’s just an unbelievable experience.”
MacEachern gave the Hurricanes exactly what they needed.
“You like to see when guys earn their way to the league and have a nice game,” Brind’Amour said.
Now there will be concerns regarding Hurricanes forward Jack Drury, who exited Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury in the first period. On Monday, Brind’Amour didn’t rule out Drury for Tuesday’s game.
Yet the Hurricanes continue to count on many of their regulars. With his 20th career playoff goal in Game 4, forward Sebastian Aho holds the franchise record in that category.
Islanders coach Lane Lambert said it’s clear penalties are proving to be a major hindrance for his team. Carolina has delivered five power-play goals of their 12 total goals in the series.
“We learn game to game,” Islanders left winger Zach Parise said. “We need to learn from the mistakes we made.”
The Islanders have been dinged with at least four penalties in every game of the series. Both teams had 29 shots on goal in Game 4.
Carolina is 9-1 in its last 10 home playoff games over the past two seasons.
If necessary, Game 6 is Friday night back in Elmont, N.Y.