Cary, NC — Rod Brind’Amour is not the shout-in-your-face type coach so after the disastrous last game, he would just tell the players to pack that one away and concentrate on the next game.
That next game would be against the Vancouver Canucks who beat the Canes a month ago shortly after Bruce Boudreau took over as coach having the Canucks humming, ending a nice win streak for the Canes in Western Canada. It was also the start of what seemed like a daily roll call of players put under Covid protocol starting with Sebastian Aho who had 5 goals in the previous 3 games.
Aho Nets Powerplay Goal
With Covid still causing all sorts of line shuffling, the game took place with the Canes winning 4-1 in a game that looked good from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer. The last game had a good start but in that game after 2 shifts, the Canes seemed possessed.
The line of Jordan Staal, Steve Lorentz and Jesper Fast started strong, overpowering the puck in every battle. Rod would expect nothing less from any players but especially from Staal. Jordo is not putting up the offensive numbers but his play both on and off the puck is exemplary. He leads by example and the fight and tenacity of both linemates, Lori and Quickie set the tone.
Ethan Bear wasn’t dressed nor up in the Canes suite so don’t know if he is on the protocol list but the Canes played Joey Keane for just his second NHL game. Keane came to the Canes from the Rangers in the Julien Gauthier trade. Jordan Martinook was back in the lineup after weeks being out with a leg injury. He logged just over 12 minutes with some short-handed time and you could see his timing was off ever so slightly but his energy is still in the stratosphere.
Brett Pesce drew the first penalty of the game with a holding penalty. Pesh did his best altar boy ‘who me’ look at the ref but it was a clear hold and what Rod would call a good penalty. The Canes got their first powerplay after Tyler Myers took exception to a good, solid, hard check by Andrei Svechnikov and elbowed Svech in the back of the head for the easy call.
With the first powerplay unit on the ice, Fishy won the draw, with Teuvo Teravainen passing up to Tony DeAngelo. Tony D passed over to Vincent Trocheck on the right following the flow going over near the far boards. Tro passed back up to Tony D who took a look at the landscape, carried the puck near side passing to Turbo.
Turbo went low, saw Tro setting up camp in front of the crease, didn’t have a pass, carried the puck back up to the top, passed over to Tony D who quickly passed back to Turbo. Turbo again went low, again turned around going above the circle, spun around again to the inside of the circle then found Fishy, arm cocked, made the sweet feed for Fishy’s one-timer from 28’ out for a blister of a shot to get the Canes on the board.
Keane got on the scoresheet with a holding call, not a bad penalty but one probably avoidable. Shortly after the Canes had another very good-looking PK, Brady Skjei got a hard pass from Martin Necas at the Canucks blue line but couldn’t handle the bouncing puck. Luke Schenn took advantage of the puck putting Skjei in a bad position scooped it up going fast down the right side passing to Bo Horvat in the middle.
Horvat carried the puck into the Canes zone going to the top of the far circle then, using Pesh as a blind, sent a silent wrister from 35’ out that beat Frederik Andersen. Andersen was not pleased with that miss and desperately wanted another shot at it. Late in the period a bad line change caused the Canes for another Too Many Men penalty but again the Canes PK came up strong, especially Trocheck on this particular kill.
Trocheck and “Birthday Boy” Necas Put Canes Ahead
Almost fitting, Brind’Amour had the Trocheck line start the second as they were very dominant in the first in all 3 zones. Just over the one-minute mark, Nessy was quick on a loose puck behind the Canucks net then passed against the grain to Svech. Svech wasted no time, laying a perfect pass hard to Tro’s tape who swiped it in to put the Canes back up by 1.
On their next shift, Tro gained grabbed a loose puck below the Canes goal line on the near side passing up to Svech just south of the blue line. Svech turned, had the puck on this stick when Brad Hunt came in full force body check but didn’t count on Svech standing solid with Hunt helplessly falling to the ice with Svech still having the wherewithal to knock the puck up to Nessy.
Nessy went to the right with Svech going to the left side of the middle, being used as an option. The birthday boy, Necas, held the puck then shot the puck hitting the bottom side of the crossbar going in for a hockey player’s ultimate birthday gift. Not necessarily a sympathy call but a couple of minutes later, Ian Cole was the lone defender on an odd-man rush for the Canucks. Cole defended well, splaying down at the right time, blocking the puck but his stick hit Conor Garland’s skates knocking him to the ice for a tripping call.
Jesper Fast was nearly a one-man wrecking ball on this PK seemingly to be in front of every pass making life difficult for the Canucks. One scary moment during the powerplay was during a faceoff two Canucks got tangled with Horvat’s skate hitting the visor of Elias Pettersson. Smart call by the refs to stop play to ensure everyone was okay, which they were.
The Canes got their second powerplay on what can only be called a dumb penalty by Juho Lammikko interfering with Tro as he was maneuvering for position. Boudreau had that classic ‘ what were you thinking’ look that he does so well. A little later in the period, Svech had an unbelievable shot that hit the bottom of the far post right at the ice that bounced out.
How he even got that shot off was unreal with a couple of Canucks ganging up on Svech with Svech and Horvat getting offsetting roughing penalties.
Lorentz Closes Scoring
The Canes went into the third with a comfortable lead* (*that term is not in Brind’Amour’s playbook) but didn’t play thinking that lead was enough. The Canucks, especially with Boudreau, are a potent team and can strike at any moment. The Canes were still sending 2 or 3 forwards deep on every entry into the Canucks end.
The only difference I could determine, which could be just a matter of play, but the Canes defense wasn’t pinching much while being very respectful of the Canucks forwards’ speed.
The last score came early in the third and was nice to see as the Staal line played hard all night so to see them get on the board was justified. Staal muscled the puck to the right of Canucks goalie, Thatcher Demko with Quickie on the receiving end. Quickie dropped it off to Lorentz who rimmed the puck behind the net.
Quickie was tied up at the far half board while Staal grabbed the loose change passing up to Pesce. Pesh saw Lori going to the net, sending a slap shot that Demko kicked out. Skjei pinched down for the rebound, seeing Lori crossing the crease to the near side, slid a hard pass that Lori tipped with the blade of his stick that knocked the puck up high, squirting into the net for a well justified goal.
Excellent game after the last disaster. Full team effort and aside from the one goal Andersen wanted back, and also a strong effort in the faceoff circle by the Canucks, Brind’Amour had to be pleased with the win, especially the special teams.
The next home game is Friday against the very tough New York Rangers. Be there!
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