Jaccob Slavin scored barely a minute into the game and the Carolina Hurricanes went on to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 in the opener of the best-of-five qualifying round Saturday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek made 24 saves in the first postseason meeting between the franchises.
Game 2 is Monday afternoon.
Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas also provided goals for Carolina. Aho and Slavin each had an assist.
Mika Zibanejad and Marc Staal scored for the Rangers. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a longtime Carolina nemesis, made 34 stops.
The Rangers, who have dominated the Hurricanes in recent years and won all four regular-season matchups this season, were held to seven shots in the third period.
Slavin’s first career playoff goal came 61 seconds into the game. The defenseman slipped the puck over Lundqvist from close range.
It was the only Carolina shot on goal for the game’s first 12 minutes.
The lead grew to 2-0 when Aho converted off Andrei Svechnikov’s pass at the beginning of a second-period power play.
The Rangers, who had been one of the league’s hottest teams prior to the season’s interruption in March, had two power plays across the opening 10 1/2 minutes, but managed a total of one shot to that point. They were 0-for-6 on power plays across the game’s first 34 minutes and 0-for-7 for the game.
New York finally found the net on Zibanejad’s tip from Ryan Lindgren’s delivery with 5:34 left in the second period.
The Hurricanes regained a two-goal edge on Necas’ goal midway through the third period. It came when the puck skipped off the skate of Staal, the Rangers defenseman who is the brother of Carolina captain Jordan Staal. The goal came just seconds after New York had killed a Carolina power play.
Marc Staal scored shorthanded with 1:55 left, with Zibanejad picking up the primary assist.
The game’s opening minutes also included a fight between Carolina veteran Justin Williams and Rangers center Ryan Strome.
The Hurricanes held a 12-4 edge in shots after one period.
This marked the first game in the NHL’s Return to Play format, which includes a revised playoff set-up and games without spectators. Carolina is the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, while New York came in as the No. 11 seed.