NHL: Sebastian Aho leads Hurricanes to win over Rangers

Sebastian Aho scored a goal and set up another in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday in the NHL’s opening playoff game following a 4 1/2-month pause.

Jaccob Slavin scored 61 seconds in on Carolina’s first shot on goal in helping the Hurricanes gain the edge in the best-of-five preliminary round series. Game 2 is Monday.

Martin Necas sealed the win in a game the Hurricanes never trailed by one-timing a shot in off the skate of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal with 9:09 remaining.

The game was played without fans, and the NHL’s first ever played in August as the league attempts to complete a coronavirus outbreak-altered season and in a bid to award the Stanley Cup in late September or early October.

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The Metropolitan Division rivals kicked off the expanded 24-team playoff format, which will feature as many as six games a day being played in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, Canada.

Petr Mrazek stopped 24 shots, and the sixth-seeded Hurricanes defeated the 11th-seeded Rangers for just the seventh time in 38 meetings going back to the 2010-11 season. The Hurricanes had also lost five straight to New York, including being swept in their four-game regular-season series.

Mika Zibanejad tipped in Ryan Lindgren’s shot for a power-play goal in the second period, and set up Staal’s short-handed goal, which cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2 with 1:55 remaining.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for New York in starting for Igor Shesterkin, who was listed as unfit to play. For Lundqvist, it was just his sixth start since Jan. 2.

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