Andersen, Noesen help Hurricanes push past Islanders 3-1 to open 1st-round NHL playoff series

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nothing came easily for the Carolina Hurricanes to start the NHL playoffs.

Stefan Noesen scored the go-ahead goal early in the third while Frederik Andersen had a huge night in net to help the Hurricanes push past the New York Islanders 3-1 on Saturday to open their first-round series.

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Andersen had 34 saves, including a huge one from essentially on his side while down in the crease early in the third period. And he stood up to steady pressure with the Islanders carrying their late-season surge to clinch a playoff spot into this one to finish with a nine-shot advantage while spending much of the first two periods carrying the action.

“You don’t want to be a team relying on your goalie, but Freddie’s always been there for us and has made the big save when we need it,” defenseman Brady Skjei said, adding: “Obviously we’ve got to do a little better job of helping him out.”

Noesen scored the winner when he grabbed a loose puck atop the crease and pushed it past Semyon Varlamov at 3:44 of the third period, while Martin Necas added an empty-net clincher that skittered in from beyond the blue line with 1:32 to go. Game 2 of the best-of-7 first-round series is Monday night.

Rookie Kyle MacLean scored in the first period for the Islanders, pushing a loose puck on a stop by Andersen across the line in a scramble to tie the score. Varlamov finished with 23 saves, but the Islanders couldn’t cash in on the few openings Andersen left at the other end.

The wildest came after Andersen had slipped teammate Brett Pesce’s skate and fell in the crease just as Noah Dobson rang the right post by him. The puck slid back to Dobson, who skated in on the prone Andersen — only to see the netminder bat down the puck from the ice.

Andersen said he just “tried to come up with something, get close to the puck and get something on it.” It was a moment that stood out to Islanders coach Patrick Roy, too.

“Encouraged because I thought we played a really solid game,” Roy said. “We did a lot of good things out there, it was a hard-fought game but we had our chances. And frustrated because we had our chances.”

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