Every time things seem to be piling up against Carolina, the bunch of jerks finds a way to gut it out. The Hurricanes suffered more injuries than they did score goals on Sunday, and yet still pulled away with a 2–1 win in Game 2 to take a 2–0 series lead back to Raleigh.
Carolina already had Andrei Svechnikov (concussion), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (lower body) sidelined with injuries before Game 2 started, but three more would join them before Sunday was over. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk took a big hit from Cal Clutterbuck on the first shift and left the ice clutching his shoulder; goaltender Petr Mrazek appeared to pull something while making a save in the second period and left with a lower-body injury; and forward Saku Maenalanen left with an upper-body injury early in the third.
The Hurricanes have somehow pulled through as their lineup continues to be depleted, but will Mrazek’s injury be the dagger after being one of the team’s best players this postseason? Well, not according to Curtis McElhinney, who stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of Mrazek. Rod Brind’Amour successfully utilized Mrazek and McElhinney as a goalie tandem throughout the regular season, but it was Mrazek’s hot streak that he chose to ride into the playoffs. McElhinney entered the game with the Hurricanes down 1–0, and even without having played since the end of the regular season, he immediately made huge stops to keep his team in this all-out defensive battle. It was the 35-year-old netminder's first-ever postseason win in his career.
Despite the shortened bench, the Hurricanes pounced with two goals in the opening 1:05 of the third period. The first came 17 seconds in thanks to Warren Foegele, who had just 10 goals during the regular season but has already scored five so far this postseason. Nino Niederreiter followed up 48 seconds later, deflecting a shot from Teuvo Teravainen and scoring what would prove to be the game-winner.
The Islanders scored their only goal of the series when Mathew Barzal capitalized on the power play midway through the first, but it wasn’t a pretty goal by any means. Barzal was trying to pass to Josh Bailey through the crease but Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin got his stick on it and it went past Mrazek. That would be the only lucky bounce the Islanders would get in the game. Devon Toews thought he scored in the second period when he kicked a rebound from below the goal line that went off McElhinney and into the net, but it was waved off. Shots rang off McElhinney's goal post all throughout the third period, but none of the shots would find their way into the net.
Brind’Amour told reporters after the game that van Riemsdyk would not be returning “any time soon,” but did not give an update on Mrazek or Maenalanen. Svechnikov, Ferland and Martinook could all be on the verge of returning for the Hurricanes, which is bad news for the Islanders as they continue to try pull out a win of their own in this series. Though the injuries keep piling up for Carolina, so do the wins.