Canes Sweep Stars in Weekend Matchups 

Cary, NC — Friday night the Canes knocked off the Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay, then followed it up with handing the Cup runner up, Dallas Stars, their first loss of the season with a very solid 4-1 win.

The win was marred with starting goalie, Petr Mrazek getting injured in a collision in the fourth minute of the game and replacement Max McCormick getting hit from behind on a vicious non-call that looked like a shoulder injury.

The next night, the Canes beat the same Stars team with a 4-3 shootout win with yet another call-up, Drew Shore making his debut with the Canes. The Canes picked up Shore in October mostly for situations like this as the 30-year-old has played 95 NHL games which is a low number of games for any player selected 44th overall back in 2009.

Trocheck Nets 2 Beauties

For the second game in a row, the Canes still had 5 players out for Covid protocol but with the system of Brind’Amour hockey, the replacements once again did an excellent job. Early in the first, Brady Sjeki made a nice play along the far boards to clear the puck to the neutral zone.

Just as the puck cleared the blue line, Vincent Trocheck tapped the puck to Steven Lorentz. Lorentz used his speed and stickhandled the puck through the neutral zone, dishing off to speedster Martin Necas on the left wing.

Necas went around his defender but was cut off from the net then decided to circle the goal making a nifty backhand flip right onto the tape of Trocheck who greased his way past 2 defenders for a beautiful snap wrister to the far upper corner. It was a great looking goal with Trocheck grabbing the puck for Lorentz as it was his first NHL point.

A couple of minutes later, John Klingberg got called for interference on Jake Bean, but was more like a mugging, giving the Canes their first power play. Andrei Svechnikov entered the offensive zone along the far side then made a rink wide pass to Jordan Staal. Staal held the puck for a second taking in the lay of the land ten sent a crisp pass to Tro (Trocheck) in the dirty area of the crease.

Tro tipped the puck toward the net with former Cane, Anton Kuhdobin, making the save with the puck still in front of the net. Sebastian Aho got his stick on the puck keeping it away from the defense allowing Tro to backhand the puck under Doby’s pad for his second goal in less than 3 minutes.

Mrazek Hurt in Collision

On a play deep in the Stars zone, Svech and Andrew Cogliano were battling for the puck behind the net when both went down. Klingberg comes behind Svech making sure he doesn’t get back to his feet resulting in a head-scratching call of Svech getting a cross-checking penalty on Cogliano.

The bad news of the period was when Mrazek was involved in a collision in the net and immediately called for the trainer as he knew he was hurt. It looked like a hand injury but no medical report has been issued. However, at the post-game Zoom call, Roddy said without fans and the arena really quiet, you could hear Mrazek screaming in pain. Ouch!

Svech, Dzingel Get Powerplay Goals

The second period may have been one of the best overall for the entire team in this young season.

The Canes successfully killed off the back end of the Svech penalty then found themselves going on 3 consecutive power plays. Any coach will preach to keep your feet moving and eventually good things will happen.

Dallas is an excellent team but the Canes speed was the headline of the period. Dallas was always a step behind with the Canes, right on Roddy’s plan, were dictating the play. On the second powerplay of the period, Seabass (Aho, aka Fishy) carried the puck into the zone with a defender blocking the slot.

Fishy held the puck long enough to allow Svech to gain speed then flipped the puck over the defender’s stick allowing Svech to retrieve it on the fly, racing past his defender, deking Doby then sliding a backhander in for a 3-0 Cane lead.

A minute and a half later with the Canes on another powerplay, Jake Gardiner was at the top of the umbrella, passing down to Necas along the outer perimeter of the far faceoff circle. Necas made a gutsy cross-ice pass to Ryan Dzingel inside the near faceoff circle.

DZ used his soft hands to settle the pass, took a stride then picked the upper corner for his second goal of the season. The Canes completely dominated the period, getting off a game-high 13 shots in the period while limiting the Stars to just 2.

Reimer Loses Shutout But Win Means More

The Stars got on the board, breaking James Reimer’s shutout on a powerplay of their own. Coming into the game, the Stars were in the stratosphere with a 54% powerplay goal efficiency.

Teams wish for anything above 20% so 54% is beyond respectable. The Stars won the faceoff to the left of Reimer sending the puck up to Klingberg. Klingberg went to the high slot, sending a slap shot towards the net into traffic.

The ouch bounced off Sjeki’s shin pads, with Alexander Radulov keeping the puck alive tipped it over to Joe Pavelski all alone with the right side of the goal open and tapped it in to break the shutout.

Pavelski has had a great career for a seventh-rounder which just goes to show that not all scouts can predict which players have potential. Both teams appeared to play the last half of the period with the main task of not getting hurt.

The checks were there but nowhere near the intensity of the first 50 minutes. Early in the game Brock McGinn, Jordo Staal and Haydn Fleury were doing what they could on introducing any Stars player to the firmness of the boards to offset the entire Stars team who has been the most physical team the Canes have seen in a long time.

Canes Win 4-3 in Shootout

Both coaches said the rematch would be a totally different game and they were right. Jamie Benn, the Stars captain, returned to the lineup after missing a couple of games and was a force to be reckoned with, with the rest of the Stars feeding off his energy.

James Reimer who was originally penciled in to play Sunday but with Petr Mrazek going down in the game the previous night, Reims was back in the net as he really wasn’t challenged and even in his own words, “I’m ready, I’m fresh and this is the NHL.”

At the other end, former Cane Anton Kudhobin was back in net after being chased the night before.

Hamilton Banks One In Off Staal

The Canes started where they left off the night before-relentless forechecking, speed on loose pucks in all 3 zones, winning the neutral zone and tight coverage in the D-zone. In other words Roddy Hockey.

The Stars won the opening faceoff but the Canes stole the puck in the neutral zone and it was off to the races. The Canes kept the puck deep for nearly 2 full minutes allowing for a line change.

Brock McGinn in his typical style was digging for the puck, scooched it past Esa Lindell who interfered with Ginner drawing the game’s first penalty. The Canes wasted no time capitalizing.

After Jordan Staal won the faceoff, Sebastian Aho got the puck over to Dougie Hamilton for a shot from the top of the slot. The shot was blocked but Vincent Trocheck retrieved the loose puck passed it over to Andrei Svechnikov in the near circle.

Svech faked a pass up to Hamilton then made a gutsy cross-ice pass to Seabass on the left point who quickly passed to Hamilton in the high slot that left a bomb go which appeared to go straight in but must have ticked Staal’s shin as he got credit for the goal.

That’s about as perfect of a powerplay as they get when all 5 skaters touch the puck and are involved in the play. Maybe that was an awakening but after that goal, the Stars were playing like the team that got them to the Stanley Cup finals last year.

Like the previous night, the entire team takes every opportunity to introduce a Cane to the boards. Only 3 Stars players didn’t register a hit and 2 of those were fourth-line players that barely had 7 minutes of playing time.

For the Canes, only 8 registered a hit and no one had more than 2 hits. Roddy preaches respectful defense not necessarily brute force defense.

New Game, McGinn Scores Huge Shortie

The Stars must have found a Roddy playbook during the first intermission as the Stars started the second as a new team- aggressive on both the forechecking and in the neutral zone.

After the Stars got a shot off, the Canes cleared the puck with a flip into the neutral zone that was over Svech’s head but 6’7” Jamie Oleksiak was able to snare and put on his stick then quickly passing to Benn.

Benn held the puck for a second for teammates to join the rush with just Brady Skjei the loner defender against 3 Stars.

Benn took a shit that Reims stopped with the glove but couldn’t close the glove fast enough allowing the puck to drop with Oleksiak charging the net, pushing the puck in with his stick extended which looked like 12 feet.

With the same crew of officials, there was no reason to think the officiating would be any better the second night. Late in the period, Hamilton got called for holding against Joe Pavelski that had Hamilton scratching his head and Roddy getting a little more than animated on the bench.

The Stars were setting up a play in the neutral zone attempting an entry on the right side. Just as the Stars crossed the blue line, Skjei made an excellent poke check forcing the puck back into the neutral zone.

Jordo picked up the puck in the center ice logo, turned towards the Stars goal, saw Ginner racing down the left side making a nifty backhander no-look pass right on Ginner’s tape.

After taking a couple of strides and with the defender proving a partial screen, Ginner sent a hard slap shot that Dobby partially blocked but the power behind the shot took the puck to the back of the net for the Canes first short-handed goal of the year. A big goal at a crucial time.

Nieder-sniper Ties it Late to Force Overtime

Nino Niederreiter, left, in a pre-COVID 19 game in early 2020 at PNC Arena.

The Canes top line had the puck along the back boards in the Stars end and tried to pass the puck up on the proper side for scoring but Fishy wasn’t able to handle the feed allowing the Stars for a fast break clear and partial 3 on 2.

Blake Comeau carried the puck through the neutral zone with a center and Andrew Cogliano on the right side. Both Canes defensemen pinched towards the puck allowing Comeau to make a cross-ice pass that Cogliano put the puck past Reims to tie the game.

The Stars may have discovered a secret as 4-½ minutes later, Dobby flung a puck around the back of the net up to Benn on the far boards just inside the blue line. Benn passed cross-ice to Alexander Radulov in the neutral zone.

Radulov carried the puck into the Canes end the passed back to Benn who was racing all alone down the left side blasting the go-ahead goal past Reimer. Time for a gut check for the Canes as they were clearly off their game.

Roddy shortened the bench, playing the top 3 lines as experience was the immediate need. In stealing the clear the zone to the scoring playbook, after a Stars attack then losing it in the Canes end, with both teams on a partial line change, Brett Pesce, held the puck in his own end then made a 50’ diagonal pass towards Nino Niederreiter along the near boards at the Stars blues line.

El Nino patiently waited for the puck to settle but decided shot over saucer then blasted a flopping puck into the upper corner to tie the game with just 2:35 left. That shot was reminiscent of the Eric Staal shot past Marty Brodeur from the opposite side of the ice

years ago as both shots were to the far upper corners and surprised both goalies. In the overtime, Hamilton got called for holding which looked like a weak call, certainly not one worthy of a call in overtime, but hey, same officiating team.

The Canes did a great job of killing off that critical penalty then had the better of the play the remaining OT time. Hamilton and Trocheck scored goals in the shootout sealing the win keeping the Canes undefeated at home but more importantly getting that valuable second point.

The next game is in Chicago on Tuesday. Go Canes!

Story by Bob Fennel. Trocheck and Niederreiter photos by Ashley Kairis, others courtesy of the Canes public Facebook page. See more Canes coverage on CaryCitizen

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