Islanders head coach Lane Lambert looks on in the third...

Islanders head coach Lane Lambert looks on in the third period against the Flyers at UBS Arena on April 8. Credit: Corey Sipkin

The Islanders and Hurricanes are similar in that at their best, both play tough 200-foot games with good defensive structure and solid goaltending. The Hurricanes do have an edge in speed and back-end production.

Here’s how they match up:


Both teams roll four lines and get production from their bottom six. The difference: The Hurricanes have gotten slightly more production, even with injured Andrei Svechnikov (23 goals, 32 assists) out for the playoffs. The Islanders have top-line playmaker Mathew Barzal (14, 37) returning after missing the season’s final 23 games. That should boost the production from Bo Horvat (38, 32), who had only four goals and eight assists after Barzal was sidelined. Brock Nelson (36, 39) led the Islanders’ scorers and his second line with Pierre Engvall (17, 13) and Kyle Palmieri (16, 17) was the Islanders’ most consistent during the playoff push. Sebastian Aho (36, 31) centers the Hurricanes’ top line with Seth Jarvis (14, 25) and Teuvo Tervainen (12, 25). Top scorer Martin Necas (28, 43) has been on the second line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi (18, 25). Jordan Staal (17, 17) centers the third line with pesky former Ranger Jesper Fast (10, 19).

Edge: Even


The Islanders will start the series without the physical Alexander Romanov (upper body), leaving rookie Samuel Bolduc on a third pair with Noah Dobson (13, 36), whose defensive game has shown some improvement after his season-long struggles. For now, coach Lane Lambert has reunited the top pair of Adam Pelech (6, 15) and Ryan Pulock (5, 21). One of the keys to the Hurricanes’ attack is how aggressive their defensemen are in the offensive zone. Their defensemen led the league with 59 goals. They got 18 goals apiece from Brent Burns and former Ranger Brady Skjei, and Burns forms a solid top pair with Jaccob Slavin (7, 20). Offensive-minded Shayne Gostisbehere (13, 28) was a nice late-season acquisition from the Coyotes to round out the bottom pair.

Edge: Hurricanes


The Hurricanes’ tandem of Frederik Andersen (21-11-1, 2.48 goals-against average, .903 save percentage) and Antti Raanta (19-3-3, 2.23, .910) certainly is a strong one, but Ilya Sorokin (31-22-7, 2.34, .924), a likely Vezina Trophy finalist, is the top netminder in the series. He went 11-4-1 in March and April during the Islanders’ desperate playoff push and allowed two or fewer goals in six of his last eight starts. This will be his first NHL postseason as the Islanders’ clear-cut No. 1 goalie — Semyon Varlamov appeared in 34 of 41 games as the Islanders reached the NHL semifinals in 2020 and 2021 — but Sorokin went 4-1-0 with a 2.79 GAA and .922 save percentage in 2021.

Edge: Islanders


The only advantage the Islanders’ struggling power play might have over the Hurricanes is that they are getting Barzal back on the top unit. The Islanders were 5-for-15 (33.3%) in Horvat’s first six games with the team before Barzal was injured. But the Islanders, struggling to gain the blue line and, if they did, static in the offensive zone, finished the season in a 6-for-55 slump (10.9%) and ranked 30th overall in the NHL at 35-for-222 (15.8%). The Hurricanes weren’t among the NHL’s elite with the man advantage, ranking 20th at 50-for-253 (19.8%), but they do have some dangerous power-play performers. Necas had nine goals and 17 assists on the man advantage and Burns, with his booming point shot, had four goals and 19 assists. The Hurricanes’ penalty kill ranked second in the league at 84.4 % (216-for-256); the Islanders were ninth at 82.2% (180-for-219). But their home penalty kill ranked first at 89.2% (91-for-102).

Edge: Hurricanes


While Lane Lambert technically is a first-year NHL head coach, he’s no rookie. He served as Barry Trotz’s lieutenant with the Predators from 2011-14, was with the Capitals from 2014-18, including that franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship in 2018, and was the Islanders’ associate coach the previous four seasons. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, the team’s captain when it won its lone Cup in 2006, has led Carolina to the playoffs in each of his five seasons as bench boss. But a four-game sweep over the Islanders in 2019 stands as the only time Brind’Amour has led the Hurricanes past the second round.

Edge: Hurricanes

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