Cary, NC — The Canes played the Flames in Calgary just a month ago, winning the game 2-1 with Sebastian Aho scoring both goals.
Coach Darryl Sutter, one of the best and most entertaining coaches in the league, has Calgary playing a very similar game as the Canes play. There’s a lot of similarities with both teams: some very fast and talented forwards with agile, defensively smart defensemen who can add a bit of a threat on offense. Former Canes Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin have found a home in Calgary and both are key players for Sutter.
Game 1: Canes Double Up Flames, 6-3, Win Streak at 5 Games
In their rematch on Friday, the Flames were on fire in the first period with Canes goalie Frederik Andersen keeping the Canes in the game as he faced 21 shots on net allowing the Canes, and a few words from Rod Brind’Amour in between periods, to regroup to eventually come out with a hard-fought 6-3 win.
The Flames played the night before, also with Dan Vladar in goal for his first career back-to-back game situation, and the whole team surely brought their A-game on Friday.
The Flames used their speed early and kept the pressure on the Canes who were mostly on their heels in the first. Give the Flames credit as their forechecking in the first was some of the best the Canes have seen all season.
Fast Gets Goal In His 500th Game
The first goal of the game came off a broken play by both teams. First Calgary gained control of the puck in the middle of their defensive zone after a weak dump by the Canes. Methodically, they passed D to D then up to Brett Ritchie along the near boards. Ritchie made an errant cross-ice pass meant for Blake Coleman but was 6’ too far ahead of him and the puck bounced hard off the dasher into the Canes’ zone.
The puck landed on Jordan Staal’s stick and he intended a soft backhand pass to go to either Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Tony DeAngelo but hit a skate. Ritchie picked up the loose change and with the 3 Canes collapsing on him, shot from the top of the circle that beat Andersen on one he probably wanted back. Rather than a wake-up call for the Canes, it was the Flames that heated up after that goal.
Far too much time was spent in the Canes zone with shots from every angle and every Flames player. Despite the early goal, Andersen was on his game, keeping the Canes in the game with a key save while the Flames were on the powerplay. With 15 minutes gone in the period, the Canes had only 3 shots on net while the Flames had 15.
Late in the period, the game took a huge turn in the Canes’ favor. With the Vincent Trocheck line on the ice, the Canes were having a whiteboard time with the puck in the Flames’ end. After a shot went wide from the far side by Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei skated down from the point to get the puck while Andrei Svechnikov went up top to cover the blue line.
Skjei rimmed the puck back up to Pesce on the left point with both Skjei and Tro going to the crease as Jesper Fast moved to the side. As soon as the puck got to Pesh, he blasted a slap shot to the goal that Fast saw all the way, tipping the puck for the redirection to tie the game and more importantly cool the flames. It was a nice present for his 500th NHL game.
Stepan, Svechnikov, DeAngelo Douse the Flames
Roddy is not the ‘in your face’ type coach, but can certainly say the right words in the right way for the right effect. Good chance those were said during the first intermission as the Canes came out for the second as a different team.
The forechecking tide didn’t necessarily change as the Flames continued excellent forechecking but the Canes improvement from the first was most noticeable. Derek Stepan won a faceoff deep in the Flames end pulling the puck back to Ethan Bear. On one of the faceoff set plays, Bear passed to Ian Cole at the top middle blue line, who backed up a stride waiting ever so little for traffic in front then sent a hard slapper.
The puck hit bodies going to the near boards. Steve Lorentz used his muscle and positioning to retrieve the puck, faked right, going left, then went to the net. Just as he got to the corner of the crease, with pressure on him and a slight tap to his stick he lost control of the puck with Stepan quickly getting the puck in the low slot wasted no time to wrist it in 12” off the ice to give the Canes a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Less than 2 minutes later, Skjei intercepted a Flames pass in his own end, banking it off the boards to Trocheck in the neutral zone. Tro held the puck for just a moment saw Svech coming down the center making the smart pass that Svech cradled a bit getting the puck to the toe of his stick then used his defender as a screen, wristed a knuckleball shot that Vladar tried to make a full pad save but the puck trickled in for the 3-1 lead.
A little over 3 minutes later, Sebastian Aho won a faceoff to the left of the Flames goal.
Teuvo Teravainen reached to get the puck, touching it back to Tony D. With a Flame forward fast approaching and no shot, Tony D went down along the near boards cut towards the goal taking a hard angle shot. The puck hit Vladar popping up that Fishy tried to bat into the goal but bunted it wide. DeAngelo was still skating around the net, picked up the grounder then whipped it in for his 6th of the year.
A minute later the Flames burnt the Canes on some sloppy play that started in the neutral zone. First, the Canes didn’t forecheck well enough in the neutral zone as they might have been more concerned with a line change. The Flames took advantage quickly passing from their defensive zone to the Canes blue line with Skjei as the lone defender.
Former Cane Elias Lindholm passed over to Matthew Tkachuk on the right who waited just long enough, chose a spot with Andersen making contact with his stick save but the puck trickled in to make it a 4-2 game. Late in the period with Tro in the penalty box for a tripping call, Stepan almost had the dagger of the game going in on a breakaway short-handed going 5-hole but Vladar made the save.
Snipers Skjei and Svech Close the Scoring
Sutter is usually a man of few words but knew his team could stay in the game and probably used a few words after the second to encourage his team to continue to compete.
The Canes had the puck in the Flames end for a full shift when it was time for line changes. Erik Gudbranson held the puck behind his net for nearly 10 seconds while all the bodies hopped over the boards. Someone forgot to keep their eye on the smallest player now on the ice as Gudbranson made a Hail Mary pass to sniper Johnny Gaudreau just over the red line. Johnny Hockey turned on his jets going in on Andersen all alone sending a snap wrister that clanged off the top crossbar going in to close that gap 4-3 getting the Caniacs a little concerned.
The balance of most of the third period was some good hockey to watch. The Canes knew one small error could be the turning point of the game either way and they were determined to ensure they weren’t going to make any mistakes. Slightly over the 18-minute mark, Lorentz again muscled the puck to KK camped out behind the goal. KK had plenty of time as no Flame defender went down low. Skjei was also uncovered on the left point, came down Broadway with KK threading a pass right to Skjei’s tape. With time and plenty of space, Skjei picked the left side of the net sending a wrister in for his third goal in the past 2 games.
After the game, Skjei warned oddsmakers not to place any bets for a goal-a-game pace for the rest of the season. With nothing to lose, Sutter challenged the goal for goalie interference but the replay showed it wasn’t even close. The delay of game penalty gave the Canes one last chance for Caniacs to get a Boberry biscuit.
After the first unit had a minute of play in the Flames end, both teams changed units. Staal won the faceoff with the puck going from the far faceoff circle to inside the near circle. Svech was first to the puck, cocking his stick while in stride, smashing it to the near upper corner for an unbelievable goal that even Svech raised his eyes in amazement.
Great win for the Canes fifth win in a row, over a very good team that has dropped their last 3 games. No rest for the Canes as the next game is in less than 24 hours against a powerhouse rival, the Florida Panthers.
Game 2: Canes Fall to Panthers, 4-3 in Overtime
For just the second time this year, the Canes lost in overtime, this time against a powerful Florida Panther team who also handed the Canes their first loss of the season back in November.
The big surprise of the day was Alex Lyon was called up from Chicago to start in goal. No official word if Antti Raanta is ill or has an injury, and with Frederik Anderson playing the night before, maybe it was a simple decision to just not overplay the big guy. This was Lyon’s 24th NHL game going up against one of the best in Sergei Bobrovsky.
Teravainen Matches First Shot, First Goal
The Panthers had no mercy on Lyon as it took just over a minute for the Panthers to score.
After gaining possession in their own end, the Panthers spread the ice all going wide with East to West passing with Gustav Forsling along the far boards sending a hard pass to Anthony Duclair in front of the penalty box. Duclair sent a solid cross-ice pass to Jonathan Huberdeau who had 6’ of space in front of Brett Pesce, wasted no time sending an ice burner to beat Lyon with just 65 seconds gone for the first shot of the game.
The Canes took advantage of a golden opportunity to put that early goal behind them and get back in the game when Eetu Luostarinen took a dumb penalty elbowing Seth Jarvis in front of his own bench giving the Canes a powerplay. The first PP unit was on the ice, dumping the puck deep.
Vincent Trocheck and Sebastian Aho ganged up on the Cats in the corner in a battle for the puck with Fishy gaining possession, chipping it up to Tony DeAngelo on the right point. Tony D settled the puck, carried it a couple of strides then passed to Teuvo Teravainen above the near circle. Turbo took his time cradling the puck to the toe of his stick, skated in a stride, saw more daylight than expected and sent a wicked wrister into the far upper corner to match the first goal on the first shot.
On his next shift, after getting whacked in the jaw, Jarvis carried the puck down the left side, seemed to mesmerize his defender then did a spin-o-rama pushing a backhander that somewhat fooled Bob with the puck touching his pads then floated inches in front of the goal line with Steve Lorentz doing everything humanly possible to knock it but was tied up by his defender.
Later in the period, Owen Tippett received a pass behind the Canes defensemen going in on Lyon all alone. Tippett was stick handling and about to take a shot when the puck hit a rut in the ice and bounced innocently over his stick. In between periods, the ice crew spent time filling in that rut and a couple of others. After a nice drop pass by Jarvis to Lori, Lori’s shot went wide and rimmed up to the neutral zone.
Derek Stepan and Aleksander Barkov were both going for the puck in front of the Cats’ bench when Stephan blew a tire going down allowing Barkov to drop the puck for Carter Verhaeghe, barreling down the left with 2 teammates on his right with Jaccob Slavin as the lone defender. On what seems to be a team thing, Verhaeghe held the puck taking the shot from 25’ out that hit Lyon’s pads trickling in for the late 2-1 lead.
Skjei Strikes Again
Early in the second, the Canes dumped the puck into the Cats’ end but it wasn’t deep allowing MacKenzie Weegar to smack the puck to the neutral zone. Two Canes tried to knock the puck out of the air but were unsuccessful allowing Verhaeghe to pick up the puck in the neutral zone.
As he did in the first, Verhaeghe held the puck using his 2 linemates as decoys then shot hitting the inside of the far post for a 3-1 lead with only 35 seconds gone in the period. Martin Necas had his feet going with his patented speed when Lucas Carlsson realized his best way to defend that was a trip.
Getting another powerplay goal would have been exactly what the Canes needed to get back in the game but not only did that not happen, the powerplay was awful. No setups, and seemed to be too much individual effort rather than a team effort. Shots for both teams seemed hard to come by as with nearly half the game gone, the Canes had just 13 shots on net with few of those high scoring chances.
A glance over to the bench saw both Rod Brind’Amour and Jeff Daniels walking behind players possibly reminding them to shoot more. Ian Cole was having an excellent game, responsible on defense, tough on his checks and wise choices on pinching in the O-zone. On a 2-on-1 break with Cole the lone defender, he made a great block on a high percentage shot that could have been a game-breaker.
A little over the 14-minute mark, Jordan Staal won a faceoff to the right on Bobrovsky drawing the puck back to Brett Pesce. Pesh grabbed the puck, taking a stride to the center then passing over to his hot sniper partner, Brady Skjei. Skjei, seeing Lorentz’s big body in front of Bob, wasted no time letting go a hard slap shot with Lori jumping and the puck going low into the far side for Skjei’s 4th goal in the past 3 games and more importantly getting the Canes back in the game.
Three shifts later, the Cats were spending too much time in the Canes’ end when the puck was on the right, Tippett sent a quick cross-ice pass to big Joe Thornton who blasted a shot that Lyon quickly slid over to make his best save of the game. While not having an overall great game, to down 3-2 going into the third had to be encouraging for the Canes and Caniacs.
The Canes defensive corps overall was having a decent game. Not great but there were no major errors or letdowns. The forwards, however, didn’t have everyone on their A-game. Part of that is the Panthers are a solid team that finishes all checks and is excellent in the faceoff circle.
Jarvis’ Speed Leads to Goal
Early in the third, the Cats dumped the puck along the far half boards, Ian Cole stole the puck knocking it up to the neutral zone. Fishy jumped on the loose biscuit quickly spinning to the middle of the ice, saw Jarvis just north of the Cats blue line, hitting Jarvis with the pass.
Jarvis has a fast initial stride, used that to get below two defenders with a third fast approaching. On his second stride, Jarvis looked up, put the puck up on the stick’s toe snap wristing it in on the short side. Great looking goal and just what the Caniacs needed to have them get back in the game.
The refs were keeping the game interesting as they were calling penalties late in the game. Staal was called for roughing on Barkov, probably not a bad penalty then Just after the Canes killed that penalty, Frank Vatrano got called for a bad penalty interfering with Slavin in the Canes’ end.
Vatrano voiced a guttural comment to the ref about the call then skated over to get in Lyon’s face with Slavin reminding Vatrano the penalty box was in the other direction. Who knows what that was all about. The Canes failed on that powerplay but were much improved over the previous attempt and the game going into overtime.
The Canes won the initial faceoff on the all-important possession play of the OT.
Slavin passed up to Andrei Svechnikov in the neutral zone, didn’t appear to have any space but used his speed and muscle going down the right, lowering his shoulder headed right to the goal for an attempted stuff that Bobrovsky stopped. Midway in the extra time, the Caniacs cheered when Skjei hopped over the boards hoping for his streak to continue.
Skjei got the puck deep in his end, started up ice attempting a bank pass with Duclair intercepting it going in with Huberdeau on his left and just Sklei back. Like it seemed to be the option of choice, Duclair held the puck and beat Lyon for the OT winner. Tough loss, ending the win streak at 5 games but in all honesty, getting a point out of that game is a minor victory as it wasn’t the Canes’ best game.
The next home game is Thursday against the Blue Jackets who have to be antsy for this game after they crumbled in the 7-4 loss to the Canes on New Years Day. Be there!
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