Hurricanes host Islanders in season opener tonight

Carolina Hurricanes

DALLAS, TEXAS – APRIL 27: Nino Niederreiter #21 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates a goal with Jordan Staal #11 against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on April 27, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While watching nearly half of the NHL’s teams drop their opening game pucks already, the Carolina Hurricanes’ wait is now over as they’ll open the season Thursday at home against the New York Islanders.

New goaltender Frederik Andersen will be between the pipes for puck drop at 7 p.m. inside PNC Arena after coming over from the Toronto Maple Leaves in free agency after last season.

Andersen is 226-100-48 in his career with a .915 save percentage between the Leafs and Anaheim Ducks.

His start will come 11 years after he was originally drafted by the Hurricanes in the fifth round, yet never signed with the team. He re-entered the NHL Draft in 2012 where he was selected in the third round with Anaheim.

He’ll likely look down the ice to New York netminder Ilya Sorokin who is the probable starter for the Islanders.

In a shortened rookie year due to COVID-19 in 2020-21, Sorokin finished 13-6-3 with a .918 save percentage.

Thursday’s opener will be the first of three meetings between the clubs this season, now that the NHL has returned to regular schedule formatting after adjusting it to regional divisions last season due to COVID-19.

However, the two won’t meet again until April. Both in Raleigh on April 8 and in New York on the 24th.

Carolina is 76-52-9-11 all-time against New York, including a 3-0-0 sweep the last time the clubs met in 2019-20.

Additionally, veteran center Jordan Staal has earned the captain’s patch for this season. He is joined by left-winger Jordan Martinook, defenseman Jacob Slavin and forward Sebastian Aho who were all named alternate captains.

Furthermore, Carolina will see eight skaters make their Hurricanes debuts.

Along with Andersen, defenseman Ethan Bear is in the lineup Thursday. He was traded from the Edmonton Oilers for left-winger Warren Foegele in the offseason.

Additionally, defensemen Tony DeAngelo, Ian Cole and Brendan Smith will make their debuts. While on offense, centers Derek Stepan and Jesperi Kotkaniemi and goalie Antti Raanta will be active as the backup to Andersen.

The acquisition of Kotkaniemi sees him join Carolina’s top line with Aho and right-wing Martin Necas. Necas tallied a career-high 41 points (14 goals) in 53 games last season, becoming the fifth Czech-born player to reach 40 points in a season in franchise history.

They’ll meet left-winger Anders Lee, center Mathew Barzal and right winger Kyle Palmieri on New York’s top line.

Drawing the top defensive pairings for both teams is Bear and Jacob Slavin for Carolina and Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock for the Islanders.

Finally, the Hurricanes are expected to deploy Aho, left-winger Andrei Svechnikov, right-winger Vincent Trocheck, forward Teuvo Teravainen and DeAngelo on their top power play unit.

Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour is entering his fourth season as the Hurricanes’ head coach and is looking to build on his 120-66-20 record.

Additionally, Barry Trotz is also entering his fourth season as the Islanders’ head coach, and 24th season as a NHL head coach between three teams. Trotz is 877-635-60-158 and has won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018.

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