Raleigh, NC — The Canes returned for a thrilling weekend of play at PNC following nearly two weeks of away games. A packed house of fans erupted following the team’s Friday night 3-goal victory over the Devils. The celebrating was short-lived, though, as the Canes suffered a tough OT loss Sunday to the Oilers.
Game 1 – Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils
Canes Feel The Love On Valentines Day, Beat Devils 5-2
The Carolina Hurricanes got a much-needed win with a 5-2 solid team victory over the New Jersey Devils on Valentine’s Day as they started the game 4 points out of a Wild Card spot.
That win, along with the Blue Jackets losing to the Rangers, allows the Canes to get closer in the playoff picture. With a win on Sunday and the scoreboard watch working out on NHL Super Sunday, the Canes could be in the thick of the playoffs.
The Canes organization went all out to make the entire night a pleasurable ‘game experience’ with a band playing in between periods, numerous fun booths throughout the concourses and even having Dougie Hamilton wind up the opening siren letting the crowd know while he has a broken leg healing, he’s still involved with the team and fans.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour had Petr Mrazek in goal as it was Mrazek’s birthday and got the present he wanted: the win. Also celebrating a birthday was Canes announcer, the classy John Forslund.
Niederreiter, Foegele Open Scoring
New Jersey is a team the Canes should beat just based on the standings, yet the Devils beat the Canes in their first meeting of this season.
Like the Canes, they’re young and fast. Some, extremely fast, with the biggest difference between the teams being the overall defense and a slight advantage on certain lines.
Roddy had the team approach this game with a sense of urgency, possibly because of the results of the first meeting, as the entire team followed through on every check, forechecked well (which was barely existent in the last game), and shot selection was excellent.
For the first time in 8 games, the Canes got on the scoreboard first.
Haydn Fleury, who possibly played his best game ever, carried the puck into the Devils zone passing around the boards to Martin Necas. Necas took a look at Trevor van Riemsdyk breaking down from the right point but was covered so he passed back up to Fleury while Nino Niederreiter back filled TVR’s position. Fleury made the long cross ice pass to El Nino who wound up and sent a slap shot 70’ to the back of the net as Erik Haula provided traffic in front. Nice goal and nice way to get on the board early.
Just over 3 minutes later, the Devils tied the game on another defensive coverage lapse. Travis Zajac had the puck down low along the far board with Mirco Mueller cutting down the right side all alone getting the pass for an easy tip in. It was only a matter of time before the Canes grabbed the lead again as they had their feet on the gas all period, which had to be Roddy’s game plan as the game could turn on a dime with the Devils speed and young talent.
Just over midway through the period, Brett Pesce had the puck on the left point. With Jordan Staal and Warren Foegele muscling for position in front of the crease, Pesce sent a hard shot towards the net. Foegs may have tried to use his blade to tip the puck but his defender had a hold of his stick, “only a little” he would tell the ref if caught, but enough to stop the puck.
Foegs quickly turned and sent the puck in one motion to put the Canes up by 1.
Tic, Tac, Svech Goal
The Canes had an early powerplay in the second but the only good that came from the man advantage is it didn’t allow the Devils any puck control. The Canes passing was poor, all stemming from the weak entries into the Devils zone. I give the Devils credit as they had 3 defenders on the blue line and thwarted nearly every entry attempt.
PK Subban is well past his prime but he’s still a prime time entertainer. He is not having a great first year with the Devils, but it’s not for a lack of effort or showmanship. He tried to do 3 headman passes within 2 minutes, all leading to icing. When the third one was called, he started shaking his head with a smile then started jawing to anyone that would listen.
Just over midway in the period, the Canes had one of the prettiest goals of the season.
Andrei Svechnikov had the puck in the neutral zone in front of the Canes bench, just as he crossed the blue line he dropped a pass to Sebastian Aho trailing by 5’ with Svech going to the far corner. Seabass took a couple of strides then sent a crisp cross-ice pass to fellow countryman Teuvo Teravainen on the right-wing.
As Seabass made the pass, Svech went by his defender going straight to the goal, Teuvo then made a hard pass right to Svech’s tape for a redirect that will make every highlight reel for the week. The Canes had another powerless power play later in the period which will probably get some attention during practice on Saturday.
Necas, Edmundson Get Talleys
El Niño, like Fleury, had his best game of the year.
Early in the third, he outmuscled a defender for the puck behind the net, banking it off the near boards up to Jake Gardiner. Gardiner had pressure on him and spun, making a backhand pass to Haula at the high slot. Haula sent a slapper towards the net with 5 bodies in front of the net.
The puck hit the stick of Martin Necas just as he was being cross-checked to the ice. With the mass of bodies in front and the rush to clear the puck, Damon Severson swept the puck into the net.
Necas got credit for the score and went officially unassisted but Haula and Gardiner should have gotten credit for assists. Joel Edmundson got called for a trip late in the period. The Canes penalty kill units did a much better job this game and were back to their usual shut down form.
Just before the penalty ended, Pesce got control of the puck passing up to El Nino near his own blue line. The penalty ends, allowing Steady Eddie to exit the box. El Niño, seeing Edmundson, sends a pass to the big guy. Edmundson is a stride in front of a defender as he goes in on Louis Domingue, shooting five-hole with Domingue making the save. He still put out a juicy rebound that Steady Eddie put in the five-hole after all for the Canes final goal.
Devils rookie Joey Anderson, playing in just his 6th game, scored 21 seconds later on a shot that looked like he was a seasoned pro. Strong goal and this kid may have a great future.
Just about everyone from the sellout crowd waited for the Storm Surge which was the handclap followed by a big red heart showing on the ice with the Canes blowing kisses to the crowd. Next game is Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers without injured Connor McDavid. Another important 2 points are on the line.
Game 2 – Carolina Hurricanes vs. Edmonton Oilers
Canes Get Valuable Point in 4-3 OT Loss to Oilers
The Canes will take the point, but they really wanted, and had great opportunities to get, the ever so important second point in front of another sellout crowd at the PNC Arena on NHL Super Sunday.
The Oilers were without Connor McDavid, arguably the best player in the league due to an injury, which is unfortunate as he is just amazing to watch play in person. His speed and talent is off the charts.
The big news of the day before was when the NHL announced the Canes would host an outdoor game at Carter-Finley Stadium set for February 20, 2021.
It will be the first game the NHL will have outdoors at a southeastern team. Not to worry about possible warm weather affecting the game as the NHL ice-making equipment will overcome any issues.
van Riemsdyk Notches 1st of the Season
Trevor van Riemsdyk wasted no time in scoring his first goal of the season with just 11 seconds gone in the game. After the Oilers iced the puck with 6 seconds gone, Sebastian Aho won the faceoff to the left of Oiler keeper, Mike Smith.
Seabass won the drawback to Jaccob Slavin on the left point. Slavs took a couple of strides to the mid area then passed over to TVR on the right point. With Andrei Svechnikov and Seabass along with 2 defenders clogging up the crease, TVR flung the puck into traffic with the puck having eyes and hit the inside far side of the net for the early lead.
Svech got called for a high stick penalty and even without McDavid, the Oilers powerplay is scary good. Their passing and possession in the offensive zone are admirable. The Canes penalty kill units were doing a good job but the longer the puck stayed in the Canes zone, it seemed it was only a matter of time before the Oilers cashed in.
James Reimer made a pad save off a shot by Jujuhar Khaira but the potential league MVP, Leon Draisaitl wasted no time putting in the juicy rebound. The score happened 0.5 seconds after the penalty ended with Svech on the doorstep of the box not even on the ice yet.
The Oilers, with years of #1 draft picks are a very talented team. Draisaitl is in the top 2 for being the MVP and is as strong as he is talented. Coach Rod Brind’Amour tried to match up Jordan Staal against Draisaitl’s line but when he was matched against Aho, Draisaitl outmuscled the much smaller Finn on nearly every battle.
The Oilers defense is less engaged than the Canes defense or actually most teams possibly because their forwards are so talented. The defense seemed to keep back between their own blue line and the center red line only joint in the play once the forwards are all in the Canes end.
Slavin’s Long Assist To Aho
The Canes started the second on the back end of a powerplay and had the opportunity to break the tie. The possession and passing were good, but the Canes just couldn’t get any shots off.
As the game went on, it would be the powerless powerplay of the Canes that hurt their chances for the two points as they went 0-for-3 with only 3 shots.
Svech continued to show his own skill, using his strength to win board battles then making good centering passes as practiced but without a teammate in the slot area. Early in the period, Roddy made a smart change when he saw Draisaitl’s line with the Canes 3rd defensive pairing on the ice.
He quickly had Slavs and Brett Pesce hop over the boards with Slavs stealing a puck deep in his end. He made a long pass to Seabass who kept the one stride he had on his defender to race 80’ to lift one over Smith’s shoulder for the 2-1 lead.
Late in the period, Erik Haula extended his stick touching Matt Benning’s skate. Benning’s spectacle going down would make Olympian Diver Greg Louganis proud.
The Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto scored on the ensuing powerplay and, to add salt on the wound, the Oilers Nate Archibald scored 28 seconds later. With this shot, Archibald took full advantage of bad defensive coverage after failing to clear the puck from their own zone. The Canes forwards left Reimer out to dry.
Roddy froze behind the bench is disbelief on first the failure to clear the puck then the total defensive let down.
Svechnikov Sets Up Aho
The Canes started the third with the necessary sense of urgency knowing the importance of the 2 points.The East, and especially the Metro division, is packed with good teams.
Before the game started, if the Canes were in the same division as the Oilers, they would be in first place.
In the Eastern conference, they’re on the outside looking in for a Wild Card playoff spot. Not that the Canes plan this, but if they get 3 points out of every two games, meaning win one and lose one on OT, as they did this weekend, they need to just continue to win and go on a run like they did a year ago.
I spoke to Jordan Martinook before the game and he’ll start skating today which hopefully means he will be back in the lineup before too long. The Canes’ moms were in Raleigh for the game and will accompany the team to Nashville for Tuesday’s game. Marty and his mom will be on the trip but doubtful he will be ready to go that soon.
The Canes best period was the third as the defense all but shut down any shot with the forwards finally getting the forechecking back into their game. Late in the period, Svech had the puck in the Oilers zone along the near boards.
Lowering his shoulder and turning on his jets, Svech started the turn to go around the net. Just as he picked up speed, everyone on the ice and in the arena, except one person, thought he was going behind the net. Instead, he made an amazing one-handed pass to the only person aware of the move, Seabass, who in one motion got his second of the game to knot the score.
The Canes had every chance to win the game in overtime as they had ample shot opportunities but twice chose to pass rather than shoot. One of those passes led to a turnover where Archibald raced down and went five-hole on Reimer to get the win.
It was a tough loss, but the only way to look at it is the Canes did get a valuable point. Next home game is Friday against the New York Rangers with the first 5000 people getting a Hornets-Canes rally towel. Be there!
Read more Hurricanes coverage on CaryCitizen.