Cary, NC — On paper, this was just the game the Canes needed.
Going 1-3-1 in their last 5 games, scoring a total of just 5 goals in those 4 losses, against the Ottawa Senators who lost their last 5 games and gave up a whopping 27 goals in that span. Goals for the Canes, despite all the talent and firepower, have been scarce, really scarce, so both the Canes and Caniacs needed this game to get back on track.
Oops, someone forgot to mention what Coach Rod Brind’Amour frequently says: in the NHL, every team is capable of winning any game. Point taken as the Senators won 3-2 with the Canes knocking in the Senators’ last two goals.
It wasn’t even a close game, the Canes were the better team by far. In the first period, the Canes completely dominated getting off 20 shots but former short-time Canes goalie, Anton Forsberg had a quick glove, covered up most shots that hit his chest protector and had excellent control on pad saves.
Rarely were the Canes crashing the net nor having much net-front presence to impede Forsberg’s line of vision. Jordan Staal won the initial faceoff and the Canes were off and running keeping the puck in the Senators’ end. All 3 top lines were able to make line changes while the puck was still in the Senators’ zone.
Seth Jarvis was along the backboards making a slick backhand centering pass to Vincent Trocheck. Tro had his stick legally tied up with Tyler Ennis picking up the loose change. Ennis took a quick look, saw Alex Formenton kick it into high gear then banked a pass off the near boards that Formenton snared and outraced Brendan Smith to slide the puck between Antti Raanta’s pads at the 2:43 mark. Total time of the puck in the Canes zone: 2 seconds.
Maybe waking the sleeping giant is what the Canes needed as from a Caniac’s perspective it was an entertaining period. Total control, shots at will, winning 2 out of every 3 faceoffs, possession had to be above 80%, the two powerplays looked much better than past games with 4 excellent shots but give the Sens credit as they blocked 6 shots. On the Caniacs frustration scale: off the charts.
With Brett Pesce, Tony DeAngelo and Ethan Bear all still out under Covid protocol, the call-ups from the Chicago Wolves, Jalen Chatfield and Maxine Lajoie had very respectful games with Chatfield pinching a few times adding to the offense. Besides not scoring, the other bad news of the period was Jordan Martinook got his bell rung twice and did not return after playing less than 4-½ minutes.
Do More — But Put It In The Net
During the first intermission, Brind’Amour had to say just keep doing what you’re doing. The only adder might have been to get bodies in front of the net. If they weren’t going to score a highlight-reel goal, then go for the Chad LaRose greasy goal.
They all count the same as long as the full puck goes over the line. It’s not that I’d say the Senators ‘won’ the second period, but they played much better, doubling their shots to Raanta, 8, while the Canes had a game low 14. Forsberg kept the Senators in the game with his puck control, easily winning the game’s #1 star.
Fun fact: Forsberg played 3 games for the Canes back in the 2019-20 season. Senators captain, Brady Tkachuk, added 2 minutes to his team-leading 50 minutes with a hard slash on Ian Cole but the Canes scoreless streak on the powerplay was extended. Due to a bad line change, the Canes powerplay was cut short by a too many men call.
Shortly after that penalty ended Smith was on the receiving end of a high stick with the ref just 3’ away, didn’t call a penalty. Evidently, the ref called it a “follow through” but at best that was a stretch as it was in the middle of a 4 man battle for the puck. The Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas line was completely dominating the Senators’ top line.
Staal and Trocheck were having all-star nights in the face-off circle, the defense, even with missing half of the starters, was solid, led by Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei and Cole. Proud moment for the Slavin family when younger brother Josiah made his NHL debut on the same night for the Chicago Blackhawks registering an assist in a 4-3 win over the Capitals.
He may follow in Joe Pavelski’s footsteps being a long-shot 7th round pick that has a long, productive and successful career. Congratulations Josiah. Interestingly Jaccob has said his sister is the best hockey player in the family.
Teravainen, Svechnikov Get Canes On The Board
If the Canes were to take charge of this game on the scoreboard, seeing as they took charge of the game in every other manner, they needed to pop one in early. Not only for them but also for the Caniacs as the sense of restlessness and frustration was strong.
Just under midway in the period, Fishy carried the puck from the Canes end into the neutral zone then banked a dump pass into the Sens end with no teammates in sight. Artem Zub easily picked up the puck, passed to Tyler Ennis who gained speed and took a wrist shot that Rants blocked with the chest pad but allowed the puck to drop in the sweet spot of the crease. Nessy tied up Formenton knocking him to the ice but with the puck still free, hit the puck with his skate going in for an “own goal.”
Initially, the call was goalie interference but Sens coach D. J. Smith challenged and Toronto called it a good goal as Nessy’s foot was tangled with Formenton’s with the call being forced by the defense. Shortly after that Zub got called for holding, or really attempting to hold Staal giving the Canes another powerplay.
The first unit had chances and after the puck was frozen with just 40 seconds gone, Rod had the second unit hit the ice. That unit kept the pressure on the Sens but also ran into the Forsberg brick wall. After another stoppage, the first unit is back on the ice and the scoreless streak finally ended. Teuvo Teravainen scored on a fantastic one-timer off a feed by Fishy.
It may have been the first time all night Turbo got all wood on his shot as it was a bullet into the upper corner. A minute and 45 seconds later, the Canes got that LaRose greasy goal. Max Lajoie did a great job down low digging for the puck coming away with possession. Not seeing anything in the crease, passed up to Fishy who filled in for Lajoie on the left point.
Fishy held the puck while skating back towards the middle then sent a hard wrister into traffic. The puck hit someone, dropped to the ice when Svech outmuscled his man, stretched his stick knocking the puck in to tie the game and get the Caniacs back in the game. Just 19 seconds later the bottom fell out.
Josh Norris picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone quickly passing over to Drake Batherson. Batherson got a step on his defender, shot with Rants making a chest save with the puck again falling in the sweet area in the blue. Norris and Cole crashed the net with Cole going down and his leg pushing the puck into the net for the second own goal and backbreaker.
Tro got a penalty with just over 3 minutes remaining that killed extra time for pulling Rants for the extra man. Not sure what Roddy can tell the team to do better as the Canes played a very good game just didn’t get a break. The next game is Saturday against Buffalo and Jeff Skinner. Be there!
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