NEW YORK (AP) — As Paul Stastny approached the goal line in the corner, he just decided to fling it toward the net.
It went in, and the Carolina Hurricanes are moving on to the second round of the playoffs again.
Stastny scored 6 minutes into overtime, and the Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Friday night in Game 6 to advance to the second round for the third straight year and fourth in the last five.
Derek Stepan started the winning sequence when he intercepted Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech’s clearing pass. Stepan skated up and passed to Stastny, who fired a sharp-angle shot from the goal line that deflected off Sorokin’s left pad and between his legs.
“Once Steps kept it in I knew Steps would get it to me,” Stastny said. “I tried to attack. I was thinking I’d have 2-on-1. Once Jesse (Puljujarvi) started coming towards me instead of staying wide, then I figured I’m just going to shoot it without looking. Done it in practice before. … Just the element of surprise. Get lucky some times, and was fortunate to go in.”
It was Stastny’s third career overtime playoff winner.
Sebastian Aho tied it midway through the third period for the Hurricanes. Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots while playing for the first time since April 13.
“They came in pretty hard in the first so I had a chance to get into it,” said Andersen, whose last postseason start was in the 2020 playoff bubble for Toronto. “Just tried not to get too far ahead of myself. Tried to enjoy the moment and take it a shot at a time. It was fun. For me it was a while since I played in the playoffs and it was something I was very excited about.”
Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders, and Ilya Sorokin finished with 39 saves. New York was eliminated in the first round for the first time in its last five trips to the postseason.
The Hurricanes advanced to face the winner of the series between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. The Devils lead 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Saturday night.
It was the Islanders’ second overtime loss in the series. They also lost 4-3 in Game 2 in North Carolina.
“Not only two overtime games, but in both we had third-period leads, and that really stings,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said.
After getting outshot in each of the first two periods, the Hurricanes had a 19-5 edge in the third and tied the score midway through the period.
“Sometimes when you’re just trying to hold on, it doesn’t work well,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said. “I think the first two periods we were playing aggressive and the third period we just kind of sat back and (tried to) clog it up and make it hard. Sometimes when you do that, it can go the other way.”
Sorokin denied a backhand shot by Jesse Puljujarvi 2:13 into the third to keep the Hurricanes off the scoreboard. At the other end, Andersen saved a shot by Casey Cizikas less than 10 seconds later. Sorokin also had a nice glove save on Jordan Martinook at 8:17.
Aho scored from doorstep at 9:24, knocking the puck down with his glove before sending it past Sorokin. It was his fourth goal of the series.
“The third period was all in their end and we still had to scratch and claw just to get the one,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “And then obviously found a way in overtime.”
The Islanders outshot the Hurricanes 17-11 in a scoreless second period that saw both sides have plenty of scoring chances.
Sorokin gloved Brady Skjei’s point shot 1:03 into the second period. Andersen then gloved a shot from between the circles by Brock Nelson four minutes later.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi nearly tied it for Carolina, but his shot hit off the crossbar at 7:48. The Islanders than had sustained pressure in the offensive zone around the middle of the period, with Andersen stopping attempts by Scott Mayfield and Cizikas less than 20 seconds apart.
The UBS Arena crowd erupted in boos when Aho knocked down New York defenseman Sebastian Aho with 3 1/2 minutes left in the middle period, earning an interference penalty. The Islanders managed three shots on goal during the power play.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard when they took advantage of a Hurricanes turnover in the neutral zone. Clutterbuck got pass from Ryan Pulock, skated up the right side and fired a shot from the right circle past Andersen at 9:20 of the first period for his first goal of the series.
The Hurricanes turned to Andersen after Antti Raanta had started the first five games of the series. Raanta gave up three goals on 22 shots in a 3-2 loss in Game 5. For the series, Raanta has a 2.59 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at https://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press