In a larger sense, the Eastern Conference series on display Tuesday night was a battle between the Hurricanes, winners of three games, and the Islanders, winners of just one. But this match-up is much more personal, because inside of it are two Sebastian Ahos. In Carolina, there is the 25-year-old goal-scoring center from Finland named Sebastian Aho, and on the Island, there is the 27-year-old depth defenseman from Sweden named Sebastian Aho.
Both Ahos had already played critical roles in this series before Game 5. Sebastian Aho scored the very first goal of the playoffs with a one-timer, and he showed some toughness later on when Sebastian Aho tried to get physical.
Sebastian Aho had a rough start, not only because he blinked in that Aho duel up above, but also due to the fact that, when the Islanders went down 0-2 after an overtime loss, they partially had his own goal to blame. Yes, both Ahos have scored on the Isles in this series.
Game 3 was a bounceback, with Aho notching an assist on a deflected Kyle Palmieri goal that kicked off a burst of late scoring in the Islanders' 5-1 win. But Aho got revenge in Game 4, scoring once and assisting twice as the Canes took a 3-1 stranglehold of this series.
But that's all in the past. What happened in Game 5? Well, it was classic Islanders, as they took advantage of the Canes' misfortunes and rode a spectacular performance from Ilya Sorokin in net to a 3-2 win. Pierre Engvall scored off a turnover in the first after the Isles struggled mightily to create chances. The always-infuriating offside review took the response off the board for Carolina, allowing the Islanders to lead in the first intermission for the first time in 25 playoff games. And then in the second, with both Ahos on the ice, New York added to their lead when a shot from Engvall bonked off Aho's face and onto the stick of Brock Nelson for a goal.
A rough moment for Sebastian Aho, and an occasion to celebrate for Sebastian Aho. But after the teams traded goals and went into the second break, Sebastian Aho made Isles fans nervous with this finish when the Canes did a good job hustling the puck from one end to the other.
That was the final goal of the night, but it was not the last notable moment for either Sebastian Aho or Sebastian Aho. A minute removed from the Aho goal, the Canes went on the power play when Aho got whistled for holding. But that opportunity was cut short early when Aho took a penalty. This is a Sebastian Aho crime wave! What's the mayor going to do about this?!
There is much to consider when ranking these two Sebastian Ahos. One Sebastian Aho has scored in these playoffs, has achieved more overall success, but was also socked in the face by a puck. The other Sebastian Aho began this series clumsily but exited Game 5 plus-two with a victory and some momentum for his scrappy little squad.
Taking into account all of this information, the Sebastian Aho Power Rankings, as of Wednesday morning, are as follows: