Canes, Mrazek Win Home Opener With Shutout 

Cary, NC — The Carolina Hurricanes beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning in a tense game dominated by both goalies with the Canes winning in overtime 1-0.

The Canes were without 5 players due to Covid protocol with the replacements all having great games. Steven Lorentz played his first NHL game with his enthusiasm overflowing during a pregame Zoom interview.

Without verifying, Petr Mrazek may be the first goalie in franchise history to win a season opener on the road and home opener with shutouts. His side to side movement and anticipation was exceptional. The few times someone had time and space going in on the goal, Mrazek was a solid roadblock. 

Back to Business

Coach Rod Brind’Amour has to be pleased with the team’s performance, especially with the replacements and the 10-day pause, with not showing any significant signs of rust.

Roddy was forced to juggle lines with Brock McGinn winning the line lottery, filling in for Teuvo Teravainen on the top line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Ginner was a great choice as he’s a grinder and is in his element fighting for pucks in corners and is excellent on the defensive side of the ice.

He’s a true 200’ player which is what every coach wants from all skaters. Ginner did get called for an early holding penalty that when the ref crew reviews the game tape will see Brayden Point held on to Ginner’s stick under his arm.

Penalty Kills & Svech’s Almost-Score

The penalty kill team had their work cut out for them as 4 key PK players were out due to Covid protocol and did a great job limiting the Bolts to just 1 shot. Almost as a makeup call, a minute after the penalty ended, Morgan Geekie kept his feet moving, causing Ryan McDonagh to wrap his arms around Geekie for a holding call.

The passing between Dougie Hamilton, Seabass and Svech was crisp, on the tape and fast. Svech finally took a shot that even goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, thought was in the goal but somehow settled between his pads.

Late in the period Ryan Dzingel got another soft penalty, this time hooking when his stick was parallel to the ice for 4 nanoseconds.

Goalies Are Both Hot

With fresh ice, the Canes killed off the major tail end of the Dzingel penalty to start the second period. Maybe it was the adrenaline for getting back on the ice or having so many replacements, or could have been the other team was Tampa Bay, but the Canes were a step slower and did more chasing during the period.

This was reflected in a game low of just 7 shots on net.

The Bolts defense is built around former Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman who is a skilled beast on skates. The Canes defense is as good if not better. All 3 pairings on the Canes are solid. Even with key defenseman Jacob Slavin out on the protocol list, the Canes defense kept the lanes clear for Mrazek.

The biggest difference in the two teams is the Bolts have 4 strong forward lines each with highly skilled talent. The Canes don’t have as much offensive talent but have forwards that are all good on the defensive side of the puck.

Roddy is the coach after all. Mrazek was on his game the whole game but really shined in the second. Fishy won a faceoff in the Bolts’ end with 3.5 seconds left in the period, that Ginner picked up and made a play for the goal. Then Hedman chopped his stick in half, allowing for the Canes to start the third on a powerplay with fresh ice and without Hedman.

Penalties in the Third

The Canes squandered their golden opportunity at the beginning of the third. The Bolts used their speed, Vasilevskiy was sharp and they had a little bit of puck luck of their own.

Less than 2 minutes after that penalty was over, Steve Stamkos got a trip to the sin bin for tripping Fishy. This powerplay looked better but the Lightning’s penalty kill is very impressive.

Geekie was mystified for a holding call shortly after the Stamkos penalty ended so now it was crunch time for the Canes PK team. Ginner was an animal on the forechecking and ragging the puck. 

His aggressiveness paid off as Alex Killorn negated the Canes penalty by holding Ginner deep in the Bolts end, killing the powerplay and drawing mega frustrations from Bolts coach, Jon Cooper. The refs put their whistles in their pockets the rest of the game, letting the boys play on what was, despite no goals, a very exciting and entertaining game.

Regulation ended in a rare 0-0 tie sending it into overtime.

Necas Buries Pass From Staal

Number 88, Martin Necas at a home game early in the 2020 regular season.

Roddy had Jordan Staal start with Brett Pesce and Svech, with his prime job to win the faceoff. Staal did win the draw, went to the bench for Fishy to take the ice. Pesce held the puck in the Canes end, passed off to Fishy to start the attack.

Svech, Pesce and Aho kept moving with the puck in the Bolts end. Fishy got a wrist shot off with the rebound going to the side boards. Svech got crunched just as he flipped the puck back to Pesce who took the puck out of the offensive zone for a line change.

Hamilton got the puck allowing time for Martin Necas to replace Svech. Necas had the puck just inside the Canes blue line, turned on his jets, passed up to Staal who just got on the ice. Staal brought the puck down the left side then with Necas blowing by his defender on the right, flipped the puck over his defender’s stick with Necas slapping the puck up high for a great looking game winner.

The whole game, the Canes had a majority of their shots low so whether it was a coach observation or player observation, the adjustment paid off. 

The next game is Saturday night, followed up by a Sunday matinee at 5. The next 52 games will be played in just 99 days. Go Canes!

Story by Bob Fennel. Necas photo by Ashley Kairis, others courtesy of the Canes public Facebook page. See more Canes coverage on CaryCitizen.

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