Kyle MacLean of the Islanders fights Stefan Noesen of the Hurricanes...

Kyle MacLean of the Islanders fights Stefan Noesen of the Hurricanes during the first period in Game 2 of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on Monday in Raleigh, N.C. Credit: Getty Images/Grant Halverson

RALEIGH, N.C. — The comeback by the Hurricanes seemed imminent from the moment the Islanders started taking penalties with a three-goal lead in the second period of Game 2 of their first-round series.

And, indeed, it did fall apart for the Islanders, who allowed the tying goal and the winner within nine seconds late in the third period and returned home having lost both games at PNC Arena after Monday night’s crushing 5-3 loss.

But unlike their 3-1 loss in Game 1, when the Islanders felt they played the better game, there was no doubt in Game 2 who was dominant. The Islanders were outshot 17-1 in the third period and 29-5 in the last two periods.

“It stings right now,” defenseman Noah Dobson said. “We’ve got to regroup and get back home and win Game 3.”

The series shifts to UBS Arena for Game 3 on Thursday night and Game 4 on Saturday afternoon.

“Not the ending we wanted,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “But the strength of this group is character and bounce-back. We know we’re capable of beating that team.”

Still, the Islanders, who pride themselves on their resilience, face a tough task putting the shock and hurt of this one behind them.

“We don’t have a choice,” Anders Lee said. “This one hurts. I don’t have much words for you right now on that. Right now, we’re dealing with the sting.”

“It’s a tough loss, no doubt about it, because we had a chance to win that game,” coach Patrick Roy said. “We’ve got to regroup and be ready for the next game.”

Sebastian Aho’s back-door goal as he got past Bo Horvat tied it at 3-3 at 17:45 of the third period with the Hurricanes skating six-on-five. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour had pulled Frederik Andersen (nine saves) and called his timeout at 17:11.

Jordan Martinook made it 4-3 at 17:54 after beating Dobson to the puck. Jake Guentzel added an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds left.

Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves and the Islanders blocked 36 shots, but the Hurricanes had a 108-28 edge in total attempts.

“I felt like when we took those penalties, that gave them the momentum, the game shifted big time,” Roy said. “We started losing those one-on-one battles and we didn’t do a very good job along the wall to get the puck out.”

The Islanders went ahead 3-0 on Lee’s power-play backhander at the crease at 3:54 of the second period.

But Mathew Barzal was called for interference on Andrei Svechnikov at 7:40 of the second and Varlamov tripped Stefan Noesen at 12:23 of the period, leading to Teuvo Teravainen’s power-play goal that pulled the Hurricanes within 3-1 at 13:01.

Seth Jarvis brought the Hurricanes, who were consistently harder on their checks and faster to the puck, within 3-2 at 10:43 of the third period, beating Varlamov to the short side from the left circle.

The Islanders then had what would have been a critical goal waved off at 11:08 as Kyle MacLean deflected Dobson’s shot from the blue line with a high stick. A quick video review confirmed the initial no-goal ruling.

“I think it was the right call,” MacLean said. “My stick was in the air pretty high and it did hit my stick.”

Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring at 16:22 of the first period with the teams skating four-on-four. Horvat, denied on a shorthanded breakaway at 18:00, made it 2-0 with 14.8 seconds left in the first period as he connected on a one-timer from the slot off Barzal’s feed.

The Islanders managed only two shots the rest of the second period after Lee’s goal as the Hurricanes consistently hemmed them in their own zone.

For instance, Matt Martin (on the ice for 2:32), MacLean (2:34), Cal Clutterbuck (2:27), Mike Reilly (2:35) and Robert Bortuzzo (2:17) were fortunate to get off the ice without yielding a goal on their lengthy shift at the end of the second period.

“I don’t think anything really changed, to be honest,” Lee said. “We weren’t as clean getting out of our zone tonight. Their forecheck was good for most of the evening and we didn’t get the clears.”

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