Cary, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes garnered a point from the 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets to close out their short home stand before vacating the PNC Arena while the State Fair is in town. Like the Canes, Columbus is another small market team and doesn’t get a lot of NHL press. But don’t underestimate them – they are a very good team with an outstanding goalie and are the only team in the NHL younger, by a two month average, than the Canes.
Goalies and Defense Excel
The early part of the game saw little action in the neutral zone with strong possession in each offensive zone by both teams. Neither team had many quality shots and the few that made it past the defense were stopped by both goalies: Scott Darling and Sergi Bobrovsky. The defense on both teams are young and fun to watch. When you know their ages, then see the skating, stick handling and positioning you can’t help but think they’re all seasoned veterans like Bret Hedican or Glenn Wesley.
On the offense, the fourth lines on both team were also impressive. The best scoring chance for the Jackets and the Canes in the first were from the fourth lines and it was just the skill of both defenses that avoided any damage. On the next shift, Sebastian Aho put on a display that started up near the blue line, crossed the ice, went down low and made a nifty shot that was stopped by a niftier save.
Canes Fourth Line Continues to Impress
Darling was sharper in the second as the Jackets came out with the stronger play early in the period. Haydn Fleury seemed to be the Canes lone wrecking ball in the first as he had three of the Canes, just, four hits. Line partner Klas Dahlbeck got into the action as he added three of his own in the second but it was clearly only this defensive pairing that was aggressively taking the body and completing checks.
This third D-pairing, whether Dahlbeck or Van Riemsdyk, along with Fleury will show how much they’ll contribute to the Canes success, as the season rolls along. I’m becoming a fan of rookie Janne Kuokkanen as he is becoming a real, but good, pest for the opposing team. Wearing #59, Chad LaRose has to have a smile watching him as he was the Canes all-time best pest. Like LaRose, Kuoks has skills that are deceiving and likes to shoot from every angle. LaRose made a living on the crease and I expect Kuoks to do more of the same. Joakim Nordstrom, who had a goal in the opener, lead both teams with four shots on net though two periods.
Skinner Ties It Late For His First of The Season
The third period saw the ice open up a bit. Unlike the Wild, who appeared to lose a step in the third, the young Jacket team put it up a notch as did the Canes. Midway in the third, fourth line CBJ rookie Sonny Milano from Long Island, NY, used his speed and slyness to go behind the net and bank one in off Darling’s pad that was off the post by three inches. Darling had to want another shot at that as, not to take anything away from Milano’s effort, but that was as close to a soft goal as it gets.
You could just see the Canes turning up the heat after that, knowing it would take a special effort to put one past Bobrovsky who has yet to be scored on this season. Late in the period, the Canes pulled darling for the extra skater and with pressure on in the Jackets end, Jeff Skinner, looked like Dave Winfield robbing someone of a home run as he reached up to snare an aerial clear. Skinny quickly dropped the puck to his stick, then made no doubt to anyone that he was going to shoot. Skinny took two strides, then looked to the right but sent the puck short side to tie the game 1-1.
For the second time in two games this season the Canes went to overtime. The Canes and Jackets both had their chances early in the OT with nothing serious. The Canes even had a powerplay in the OT but couldn’t connect. With the Canes top line out, they had a three-on-one breakaway. Aho had the puck on the right, passed over to Noah Hanifin in the center who passed back to Aho for a one timer that went way wide. The rebound off the back boards went over to Milano up on the far half wall who had a lone breakaway on Darling. Simple forehand, backhand upstairs shot went in for the Jacket win. The Canes start out the season with three out of the potential four points for their best start in over 10 years.
Next home game is Tuesday Oct. 24 vs. Steve Stamkos and Tampa Bay. Be there!