Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily: Hurricanes rally to stun Isles

The Carolina Hurricanes are bruised and battered. They’re also two wins away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, the Colorado Avalanche got even with the San Jose Sharks — but not without some controversy.

Here’s what happened in the NHL Sunday night (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+) and what to watch for Monday night in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:

About last night …

Game 2: Carolina Hurricanes 2, New York Islanders 1 (Hurricanes lead series 2-0) The Hurricanes have personified the “next man up” philosophy through these playoffs, but this was ridiculous. Already down forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion protocol), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (lower body), the Hurricanes lost defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body) 32 seconds into the first period and then lost starting goalie (and playoff hero) Petr Mrazek about six and a half minutes into the second period, after he stopped nine of 10 shots.

Next man up: Curtis McElhinney came on in goal and turned away all 17 shots he faced. Meanwhile, Warren Foegele and Nino Niederreiter scored 48 seconds apart in the third period to give the Hurricanes the 2-0 series lead.

Game 2: Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (series tied 1-1) So is this the template for the Avalanche? Struggle in a Game 1 loss on the road, rebound with a great effort in Game 2 to even the series? It happened against Calgary in the first round, and it happened on Sunday against San Jose. “We’ll take that. We’ll win the next three. That’d be great,” said defenseman Tyson Barrie with a laugh. “This was a little bit different than the Calgary one, but it’s nice to be able to know that if you’re down in the series, you can come back.”

The Avs answered an Evander Kane goal in the first period with tallies by Gabriel Landeskog and Barrie in the second, and then a big goal from Matt Nieto in the third. Nathan MacKinnon’s empty netter ended up being the game winner after Brent Burns’ second goal of the game — on the power play, with an extra skater — made it a one-goal game with 11 seconds left.

Three Stars

1. Curtis McElhinney, G, Carolina Hurricanes. Anyone who paid attention to the Hurricanes this season knows that McElhinney had the stuff to step in and potentially win Game 2. From Dec. 31 through the end of the season, he went 13-6-1 for Carolina. Yet this was only his third career playoff appearance, and he certainly made it count with 17 saves in injury relief of Petr Mrazek as the Canes took a 2-0 series lead.

2. Tyson Barrie, D, Colorado Avalanche. Just a huge effort from Colorado’s top puck-moving defenseman (pending Cale Makar’s official breakout). His shot was tipped home by Landeskog for the Avs’ first goal. He scored his first of the playoffs just over eight minutes later for the 2-1 lead. He had the secondary assist on their third goal of the game. He was on the ice for the Sharks’ second goal, but otherwise played well through the game.

3. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks. Burns had two goals and an assist in Game 2, including a late power-play goal that made things interesting. It should be noted, however, that he was on the ice for two of the Avalanche’s non-empty-net goals.

Play of the Night

Just a gorgeous deflection here from Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter to give his team a lead they wouldn’t surrender. Niederreiter was drafted fifth overall by the Islanders in 2010, and was traded to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck in 2013. The Wild traded him to Carolina for Victor Rask in January.

Dud of the Night

The Sharks on that icing call. Whether or not the linesmen blew the call — and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is waiting for his apology — San Jose coach Peter DeBoer probably had the best take on this Barrie goal: “Whether or not I thought it was doesn’t matter. Our players did. They let up. They relaxed for a minute and it obviously wasn’t. So the lesson in that was don’t assume anything in the playoffs. Play, and make sure.”

On the schedule

St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars, Game 3, 8 p.m. ET (Series tied 1-1)

On the one hand, Jordan Binnington had a .929 save percentage in three wins on the road at Winnipeg in the first round. On the other hand, he had one good game (a 21-save, .955 save percentage win) and one not-so-great game (giving up four goals on 24 shots in a loss) in Dallas this season.

Social post of the day

You think the locals are fired up about this Carolina Hurricanes run?

Quotable

“This was the horseshoe-up-the-a– game for us.” — Anonymous Carolina player to Arthur Staple of The Athletic on Game 2.

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