Game Preview: NY Islanders @ Carolina Hurricanes

The Islanders are 1-0-1 against the Hurricanes this season.
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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106. MSGN2, BSSO. December 23, 2023. 17-12-4. . 7:30 PM. 15-8-9. 109. Isles at Hurricanes

The NY Islanders (15-8-9, 39 points) will spend their pre-holiday festive in Raleigh, North Carolina as they take on the reigning Metropolitan Division champion Carolina Hurricanes (17-12-4, 38 points) tonight at PNC Arena.

LAST GAME

The Islanders found themselves in a battle of the goaltenders at Capital One Arena against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. The game started slow for the Islanders, only having seven shots on goal in the first period. They found themselves down 1-0 until Hudson Fasching opened the second period with a wrap-around goal set up by a rebound from Cal Clutterbuck. Though the Islanders gained momentum after a Nicolas Aubé-Kubel hooking penalty, the Capitals responded with a goal from Joel Edmundston to make the game 2-1.

The team never lost their edge, recording 16 shots on net in the third period, including Anders Lee's 9th goal of the season to re-tie the game 2-2. The Islanders and Capitals were seemingly playing lackluster to open the overtime period when Noah Dobson took a questionable tripping penalty. The new nemesis, Dylan Strome, took advantage with his 4th straight game with a goal against the Islanders to win it for the Capitals 3-2. It should be noted Semyon Varlamov was outstanding in this game, saving 33 of 36 shots.

The Hurricanes are coming off a defensive battle at PPG Paints Arena against the Pittsburgh PenguinsSidney Crosby opened the game, continuing his terrific season at age 36 with his 19th goal. After having to kill three penalties, the Hurricanes struck back with a goal from Teuvo Teräväinen to tie the game 1-1. Without many shots being taken by either team through the third period, the game remained tied straight into overtime. With Pyotr Kochetkov and Alex Nedeljkovic enriched in a goaltending battle, it took a Crosby shootout goal to win it for the Penguins 2-1.

HISTORICAL MATCHUP

The first matchup for the season between the two clubs came on November 4th at UBS Arena. The Islanders had a solid first period, finishing with a goal from Dobson to make the lead 1-0. The Isles kept up the momentum in the second period, having a shorthanded goal from Simon Holmstrom and another from Mathew Barzal in the first 7 minutes. Jalen Chatfield responded immediately to cut the lead 3-1. From this point on, the Islanders put on a poor showing as the Hurricanes out shot them 19-5 in the third period. Dmitry Orlov and Jesperi Kotkaniemi took advantage of the lackluster performance, sending the game to overtime tied 3-3. The Finnish Sebastian Aho would score one minute into overtime to win it for Carolina 4-3.

The rematch against the two rivals felt oddly similar. The Islanders were seemingly in their own zone for most of this game but made the most of their 16 shots on net. Following a Chatfield goal in the first period, Bo Horvat scored his 7th on the season to tie the game 1-1. Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal struck early in the second before Holmstrom and Pierre Engvall scored within two minutes of each other to give the Isles a 3-2 lead. Jack Drury scored right off the opening faceoff in the third period before Kyle Palmieri could retake the lead on a powerplay goal. With the Islanders hanging on by a thread, being outshot 15-4 in the period, Carolina’s Aho struck once again to send the game into overtime. Thankfully, the outcome this time finished with Barzal’s 7th goal of the season to seal an Isles 5-4 victory.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wednesday’s game featured a new face in the lineup, with Oliver Wahlstrom returning and Julien Gauthier being listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Matt Martin was activated from IR, but Lane Lambert is uncertain when he will return to the identity line. Fasching showcased his best performance of the season, driving to the net with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck numerous times. The pairing of the Isles’ Aho and Mike Reilly had a tough time on defense, having a -2 rating together in this game. Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech have begun practicing, so help on the Isles D-line should be on the way.

The Hurricanes have struggled to find a viable replacement for goaltender Frederik Andersen. Neither Kochetkov nor Antti Raanta have been the answer, posting a .882 save percentage combined. Carolina’s offense continues to be elite, with six players recording 20 or more points this season including Aho with 30. Brent Burns has always given the Islanders trouble on defense, particularly in the playoffs this past April. Seth Jarvis is in the midst of a breakout season, scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in 33 games.

 PROJECTED LINEUPS

 ISLANDERS

Anders Lee - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom - J.G. Pageau – Oliver Wahlstrom
Hudson Fasching - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson
Samuel Bolduc - Robert Bortuzzo
Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho

Ilya Sorokin
Semyon Varlamov

 HURRICANES

Stefan Noesen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Michael Bunting - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov - Jack Drury - Teuvo Teravainen
Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast

Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Dmitry Orlov - Jalen Chatfield

Pyotr Kochetkov
Yaniv Perets