Sports

Injuries mounting for Hurricanes, who may have reinforcements at hand

The Carolina Hurricanes are running out of bodies.

Already down three regulars, the Hurricanes lost goalie Petr Mrazek to injury midway through Sunday’s game and had to play all but 36 seconds with only five defensemen after Trevor van Riemsdyk suffered an apparent left shoulder injury on the first shift of the 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. Saku Maenalanen then left the game early in the third after blocking an Adam Pelech shot.

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New York Islanders’ Leo Komarov (47) shoots on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek (34) in the second period during Game 2 of the second round Stanley Cup series on Sunday, April 28, 2019 a Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Mrazek appeared to injure himself sliding across the crease early in the second period and left the ice at the next whistle after stopping nine of the 10 shots he faced. Curtis McElhinney, making his first appearance since April 6, played the final 33:33, stopping all 17 shots he faced while the Islanders dinged the post several times. Mrazek is considered day-to-day but the Hurricanes are likely to call Alex Nedeljkovic up from Charlotte (AHL) to back up McElhinney in Game 3 on Wednesday.

“We were playing a pretty tight game for the most part and that’s playoff hockey in general,” McElhinney said. “You don’t want to go in there when the guys have shut it down and it’s a 5-0 game. Tonight was a fun one to be a part of.”

Van Riemsdyk took a hard hit into the end boards from a forechecking Cal Clutterbuck and skated slowly back to the bench. He went to the locker room shortly after and did not return. He is scheduled for an MRI exam Monday in Raleigh. Maenalanen will need surgery for a hand injury. He is expected to miss 10-14 days.

“(Van Riemsdyk) is definitely not coming back anytime soon,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

With van Riemsdyk out, Jaccob Slavin played 27:21, Justin Faulk 26:30 and Brett Pesce 24:29, all highs for a regulation game this postseason.

“It’s tough, but we’ve got a lot of guys ready to go and hopefully we’ve got a couple guys coming back that haven’t been playing,” Slavin said.

Forward Jordan Martinook went out for warmups but did not play, having missed the past two games and three of the past five with a flare-up of a chronic lower-body injury. Andrei Svechnikov did not skate but remains on target for a potential return Wednesday if he can make it through Tuesday’s full team practice. Haydn Fleury was a healthy scratch Sunday, while Micheal Ferland remains out.

EMERGENCY The Hurricanes do not have a third goalie on their roster because Charlotte (AHL) is still in the playoffs. While equipment manager/practice goalie/7.6-second NHL veteran Jorge Alves is with the team, the on-call emergency third goalie Sunday was Todd Scarola, a 27-year-old Long Islander who played club hockey at nearby Stony Brook.

Home teams are required to have an emergency goalie available in the building for the use of either team in the playoffs. The Hurricanes have two, who alternate games on call. Alves, as a team employee, is no longer eligible for the role.

ZEROES Mathew Barzal’s first-period goal – off Slavin’s stick – ended Mrazek’s shutout streak at 135:04, the second-longest in Hurricanes postseason history. Mrazek had last allowed a goal in the second period of Game 7 of the first-round series against the Washington Capitals.

Kevin Weekes holds the record of 143:55 in the 2002 playoffs, from Game 5 of the first-round series against the New Jersey Devils to Game 2 of the second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, with back-to-back shutouts to close out the Devils and open against the Habs.

MEMORIES Warren Foegele’s five goals are one short of Erik Cole’s rookie franchise record. Cole needed 23 games to score six in 2002; Foegele has played nine.

Brind’Amour was asked about another unexpected playoff hero, Fernando Pisani, who scored almost as many goals in the playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 (14) as he did in the regular season (18), although none in the crucial final minutes of Game 7, thanks to Cam Ward.

Brind’Amour rolled his eyes at the mention of Pisani’s name.

“That guy was a thorn, for sure,” Brind’Amour said. “This is a special time of year. Special things happen. Special players emerge. We need that. We were desperate to have that kind of player. (Foegele) is certainly that.”

GOALIE HISTORY McElhinney became the first goalie in NHL history to make his first three playoff appearances with three different teams. He made his postseason debut with the Calgary Flames in 2009 and his second appearance with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018.

“It’s wild,” McElhinney said. “Obviously they’re spread out over the whole career.”

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Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney (35) replaces starting goalie Petr Mrazek (34) who come out the game with an injury at 13:34 in the second period during Game 2 of the second round Stanley Cup series on Sunday, April 28, 2019 a Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. McElhinney blocks a shot by New York Islanders’ Scott Mayfield (24). Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

It was the first time in 91 regular-season and playoff games this season the Hurricanes changed goalies during a game. Brind’Amour had considered mercy-pulling Mrazek during Game 5 of the first-round series, a 6-0 Capitals win.

TAILWINDS The Hurricanes have been obliterated on faceoffs in this series, winning 40.5 percent (45 of 111) through two games. They were a 49.0 percent team in the regular season. … After going 0-for-3 on the power play, including 1:26 of two-man advantage in the first period, the Hurricanes are 3-for-32 in the postseason. … Slavin has 10 points, all assists, setting a franchise record for points by a defenseman in the postseason.

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered four Final Fours, the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.
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