Hurricanes Storm Surge Past Isles on the Backs of Andersen & Aho

The Carolina Hurricanes are advancing to the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They won four games to two against the New York Islanders and produced their second road win of the series. They will get a few days off to wait for the winner of the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers series.

Related: Hurricanes Must Raise Desperation Level to Finish Islanders Series

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The Hurricanes did not make this win easy on themselves. They came out of the gate stumbling and didn’t smarten up until the beginning of the third period. Frederik Andersen played his first playoff game this year and looked like he hasn’t missed a step. Paul Stastny was the overtime hero six minutes into the extra frame. Everyone had to step up in order to put an end to the Islanders’ playoffs.

Andersen Starting Instead of Raanta

Antti Raanta held down the fort for the first five games of this series. He posted a respectable 3-2 record with a 909 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.59 goals-against average (GAA). Raanta was a placeholder until Andersen was healthy, so the switch makes sense. Raanta was also the starter for those first five games and has already had two days off between Game 5 and 6, so the switch was a bit surprising to see.

Frederik Andersen Carolina Hurricanes
Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It paid off with Andersen standing tall in net with 33 saves on 34 shots. That’s good for a 971 SV%. His teammates banded together to block 25 shots. This win was a team effort and Andersen was an enormous part of that.

Third Period Surge (After 40 Minutes of Lackluster Play)

The first two periods the Hurricanes did not look like they were ready to close out a series. After the first 40 minutes of the contest, the Islanders were up in shots, 28 to 19. The Islanders were also up 1-0 and things didn’t look optimistic for the Hurricanes; they were outplaying and outworking the ‘Canes.

Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes
Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

And then the third period happened. The Hurricanes pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and got 19 shots on net. For those keeping track, they doubled their shot total in the third period. Momentum really started to swing their way two minutes into the third when the fourth line of Derek Stepan, Jesse Puljujarvi and Stastny was on the ice. Puljujarvi caused a turnover by hitting the Islanders’ puck carrier attempting to exit their zone. Brett Pesce kept the puck in the zone and passed it back to Puljujarvi who got a high-danger scoring chance right in front of Ilya Sorokin. They also limited chances against Andersen by only allowing five shots on net. Eight different players registered at least one shot in the third period for the Hurricanes. Twelve Hurricanes players registered more than one shot over the course of the entire game.

Stastny Overtime Hero, Aho Series Hero

Stastny logged 9:28 of ice time in Game 6. Only one other player had less ice time in the game (Puljujarvi). Puljujarvi headed to the net so Stastny decided to throw it that way knowing that Puljujarvi would be there for any rebound. That wasn’t necessary as the puck went off the inside of Sorokin’s right pad and trickled into the net. It is very fitting that the Hurricanes won this series because of their depth coming through and stepping up to contribute. Hockey is a team game and fans love to see hardworking fourth-line players get rewarded with important goals like Stastny was with this one.

Stastny won the series for the Hurricanes but Sebastian Aho led the charge offensively all series. Yes, the team’s depth players need to pull their weight and keep the team in the game, but the Hurricane’s best players still need to be the best players. Aho was no exception with seven points in the six games of this series. He led the team with four goals and tied with Jordan Martinook for most shots by a forward with 19.

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the series, but they got it done and now they move onto Round 2. In order for them to go on a deep run they will need to continue receiving excellent goaltending from Andersen. The Hurricanes’ depth has to continue producing.

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