Cary, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes played their final home game of the season Saturday, April 8, 2017 against the St. Louis Blues totally different than their previous outing Thursday night, April 6, 2017 against the Islanders. This game had more emotion, more jump, more speed, more passing, scoring and, best of all, more Caniacs in the seats. In reality, the game meant little; okay, the Blues clinched third spot in the Central division but both teams played as if the game had significant meaning.
Coach Bill Peters takes pride in all his players and whenever he has a chance to show a little class, he seizes that opportunity. That’s also in the DNA of the Hurricanes organization as you can go back and see how much this franchise cares about doing the right thing. Bryan Bickell, who was diagnosed with MS back in November, started the game after he decided just two days earlier, to retire at the end of this season.
Earlier in the day, there was a Walk MS fund raiser event at the PNC Arena, which of course Bickell and his wife Amanda were there. The rest of the Canes surprised Bickell with every player and most of the top brass showing up wearing BickellStrong shirts with his number 29 on the back. The Canes also asked and received permission from the NHL to have every player’s helmet have 29 instead of their normal number.
Dahlbeck, Skinner Put Canes Up 2-1
The Blues took advantage of the Canes decision to start their fourth line by putting out their top line. The Canes did win the initial face off but lost possession in the Blues end. Sniper Vladinir Tarasenko brought the puck into the Canes end, turned and passed back to Alex Pietrangelo who sent a floater towards the net. The puck bounced off a couple of players going to the right side of the crease. Ivan Barbashev was all alone on the right side of the crease easily putting it in a wide open goal with just 26 seconds gone.
As depressing as it was, for that goal the Canes didn’t fold and in fact stepped up their game. The Canes were putting pressure in the Blues’ end that resulted in an icing. Jordan Staal won the ensuing faceoff, drawing the puck back to Klas Dahlbeck. Dahlbeck carried the puck to the center ice area then sent a wrister that bounced off Carter Hutton’s glove to tie the game.
Late in the period, the Canes were again attacking. Noah Hanifin had the puck on the left point, passing with a purpose to Brett Pesce on the other end of the blue line. Pesce made a gutsy cross ice pass to Jeff Skinner coming from behind the net to redirect the pass into the net for his 36th of the season and putting the Canes up 2-1.
Penalties Kill Canes
The Canes started the second on a penalty kill as Staal was serving the tail end of a hooking penalty from the first. The Canes PK unit held strong with Cam Ward coming up big on the only shot the Blues got off with the man advantage. Shortly after the Canes killed that penalty, Dahlbeck got called for tripping. With just seconds lift on the penalty, the Blues scored to tie the game.
The Canes had another penalty a few minutes later killing any opportunity on generating scoring chances. Once the teams were even up on the ice, Victor Rask along the near half board, made a gutsy pass cross ice to Sergy Tolchinsky, playing in his first NHL game. Tolchinsky made an sever so sweet pass to Joakim Nordstrom who put the puck top shelf for his seventh of the season. Tolchinsky is another small player but very fast with excellent hands and great vision all over the ice. Like Skinner did in the first, the Blues scored in the last minute of play in the second to tie the game.
Skinner’s Goal Send Game into Overtime
The Canes got an opportunity with an early power play in the third however it was the Blues that took advantage of that opportunity. After a puck was mishandled at the blue line, Scottie Upshall put on his jets and scored a pretty looking short handed goal to put the Blues up. Just seconds later David Perron had another shorthand breakaway with Ward stopping the puck but both he and Perron going in the goal. Magnus Parayko punched in the bound but the goal was off it moorings and called no-goal.
Midway in the period, Elias Lindholm, after initially losing the puck, got it back passing up to Pesce. Pesce passed to Hanifin on the left point sending a shot to the net. Hutton made the save sending it to his right. Skinner picked up the loose change started going around the net, changed directions, used his leg strength to gain position to stuff a backhander in to tie the game.
The overtime saw the very unusual likelihood of both teams getting a penalty. No one scored so off to the shootout which has an appropriate name for the Canes. Once again the Canes lost in the shootout ending their home season.
Keep reading CaryCitizen.com over the summer for Carolina Hurricanes updates as well as a summary of players’ exit interviews along with coaches and GM Ron Francis’ evaluation of the season. Go ‘Canes!