Raleigh, NC — Andrei Svechnikov had 2 powerplay goals in the third period of the battle against the Nashville Predators Friday night, along with an assist earlier in the game. And, despite yielding 2 third-period goals, Frederik Andersen was solid in net all night, leading the Hurricanes to a much-needed win over a very good team, 5-3.
Brind’Amour Brings Consistency in Second Half of Season
Coach Rod Brind’Amour has been very consistent about the quality of team play in the past 5 games while only having 1 win, that 6-0 shutout in Boston. This game was no different and like the last game, that hurtful game where the Canes lost in OT, it had the intensity, hard hits, on-ice chatter, extracurriculars after a whistle, and the speed of a playoff game.
That’s not uncommon during the second half of any season as you have top teams jockeying for a better playoff position (yes, that does exist). Teams just on the outside looking in are vying for a wild card spot and the ones on the outside have pride, want to play spoiler, and a few players know they’re being scouted for a possible trade. It looked like there were at least 8 scouts at this game.
Skjei Still Riding His Hot Streak
The first period was more like a sparring match rather than the main event at a boxing match as in the first 5 minutes only the Preds got a shot on net, albeit a weak one, and the Canes didn’t get their first shot on net until the other side of the first TV timeout. The Canes had shots… just off the mark.
The Canes are normally a shooting machine and by the end of the game have made up for lost time with a total of 30 shots. The best opportunity early on was by Tony DeAngelo who carried the puck from the neutral zone along the far boards, entered the Preds zone with speed and had “shot” in mind all the way snap wristing a blister of a shot that went wide by just inches. That, of course, got all the Caniacs in the south end groaning in unison about what could have been.
Midway in the period, Vincent Trocheck won a faceoff to the right of Juuse Saros, touching the puck over to Marty Necas. Nessy quickly banked a pass up to Brady Skjei who saw an opening and missed coverage by Nashville. He seized the opportunity, skating down off the boards cutting 90 degrees to the net, and almost seemed surprised by still no coverage.
He saw Steve Lorentz being tied up on the corner of the crease, continued going west then flicked a hard backhander, which usually is hard for goalies to handle, into the net glove side for the game’s first goal.
That gave Skjei 7 on the year, just one from his career-high and putting a little fun pressure on Tony D (9) for the defensemen goal lead.
A Double Minor for the Alternate Captain
Sebastian Aho is normally a cool, calm player. Plus he’s from Finland where everyone is nice so when he got a double minor, one for roughing and one for high sticking, all after a whistle, you know someone was saying something to him other than Hauskaa päivän jatkoa ( Have a nice day in Finnish).
Fishy’s normal way of payback is popping a goal or two in the net either by himself or setting up a teammate with a ‘did you see that’ assist. Filip Forsberg, from Sweden no less, was the Predator who got their roughing penalty. Fortunately it was only 16 seconds into the powerplay that Tro deked around Ryan Johansen who grabbed Tro to negate the Pred powerplay. And what’s a game without Svech making a visit to the box, but that elbowing call at 18:20 was about as ticky-tack of a call as I’ve seen in several games.
The Canes #1 penalty kill in the NHL pulled through again, all game going 3-for-3. The biggest scare of that last powerplay was a shot by Eeli Tolvanen that Andersen made a great pad save but the puck rebounded to the sweet spot in the slot with Skjei in the right place at the right time to send the puck 185 feet to the Preds end.
Kotkaniemi Pots Own Rebound, Slavin Gets Buzzer Beater
After starting the second killing off the back end of Svech’s penalty from the first, the Canes really took control of the game. The lines were shuffled a bit as Trocheck got banged up in the first and was out for the rest of the game.
Rod tapped Jesperi Kotkaniemi to center the second line and maybe that’s how Brind’Amour was the Jack Adams coach of the year last year, as on just his second shift between Lori and Nessy, KK took a shot from the mid slot that Saros kicked out with his pads and like all good coaches teach in all sports, KK followed his shot and smacked the rebound in the upper left corner to put the Canes up 2-0 for his 10th of the season.
The coaches must have had the same messages in between periods as there was just one Nashville penalty with the other obvious difference was the hitting got to the hard check type rather than the “I’ll get you no matter what” type.
Late in the period, after Brett Pesce made a nice clear to the neutral zone, the Canes forwards were a little slow on getting the puck that resulted in a turnover just over the blue line. The Preds got the puck in the Canes end passing over to Johansen along the far boards. Johansen saw Luke Kunin alone on the left wing, as Kunin went to the center he received the soft pass, had time and space like Skjei did earlier in the game but Kunin took advantage for a slap shot to cut the lead in half.
On the “never stop” and “play to the whistle or buzzer” that Rod preaches, that rule paid off very late in the period.
With just seconds left, Fishy won a board battle, slipping the puck over to Svech on the side of the low slot. With a defender fast approaching, Svech made a nifty pass to Jaccob Slavin who was well aware of the time, got the pass on his forehand and imitating Svech, quickly went high for his third of the year with a second to go in the period.
Svechnikov Nets 2 Powerplay Goals, Predators Make Late Surge
At the 6:18 mark of the third, Jordan Martinook’s endless energy and tenacity resulted in getting tripped by Michael McCarron. Fishy won the all-important faceoff in the Preds end with the draw going back to Tony D at the top of the key. His quick shot went to the corner that Nessy grabbed passing up to Svech along the half boards.
With Fishy creating trading atop the crease, Svech passed up to Tony D who wasted no time in sending a bomb to the net. Soras made the save with Teuvo Teravainen grabbing the rebound. Normally most on a powerplay unit have a shoot first mentality but Turbo is mostly a pass-first player, true to his reputation made a hard cross-ice pass to Svech who blasted the puck in for what most thought was an insurance goal.
With a huge 5:48 of playing time left in the game, John Haynes pulled Soras for the extra skater. It took less than 20 seconds for Nashville to score on a world-class shot by Filip Forsberg (who happens to be the second player that has scored a lacrosse/Svech goal in the NHL) off a slick pass by Roman Josi. With that fast success, there was no doubt that once the Preds gained possession, Hynes would pull the goalie again.
Josi was at it again, this time feeding Tanner Jannot who took advantage of the mass of humanity in front of the Canes net, slinging the puck short side to get the Preds within 1 with 2:11 left in the game which is a whole lot of hockey. Josi played a factor again as aggressive play by Fishy had Josi slashing, giving the Canes the man advantage.
Those thinking Hynes would play it safe clearly don’t know the crafty coach. Yes, Haynes pulled Soras again but this time Slavo made sure to get the puck over everyone’s head, dropping it in the Preds’ end. Svech turned on his jets, blew by a defender, grabbed the puck, and put it smack in the middle of the net with force to punctuate the win.
Excellent game with the only blemish or question being the severity of Trocheck’s injury.
Next home game is Friday versus Columbus. Be There!
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