Cary, NC – It was Justin Williams’ showcase night with the Canes playing the L. A. Kings, the other team Willie won the Stanley Cup with. In fact, he won two Cups with the Kings. Willie has the respect of every player throughout the NHL and the Canes came out dominating the early play getting off four shots in the first four minutes before the Kings got one on Petr Mrazek.
The Kings had a little deja vu going on as they played in Tampa Bay the night before and got behind 2-0, as they did in Tampa Bay, in the first on goals by Dougie Hamilton and Sebastian Aho.
Just under the six minute mark, Saku Maenalanen had the puck to the left of the goal. One of the most disliked players by the Caniacs, Dion Phaneuf, tackled Manny, but in the process also took out goalie Jonathan Quick with all three falling behind the goal. Hamilton picked up the puck, circled wide of the net and with both the crowd and teammates on the ice yelling to shoot, the big man obliged and shot into the nearly empty net to get the Canes on the board.
Midway in the period, the Kings were making an attempt deep in the Canes’ zone. Teuvo Teravainen tipped a cross ice pass that Seabass picked up, turned on his jets, using Nino Niederreiter as a decoy on his right, putting one five hole to put the Canes up 2-0.
Line of Staal, Teravainen and Ferland Lead Way
The second period was made for the Caniacs. Lots of scoring but both Justin Faulk and Michael Ferland went out with upper body injuries. The Canes scored early in the period when Jordan Staal, after getting a nice drop pass from Turbo, sent a bomb from the high slot with Ferland getting his stick on it for a redirection for a 3-0 lead with just 25 seconds gone.
Two minutes later, the Canes were on the powerplay when Lucas Wallmark made a nifty pass to Hamilton who passed over to Jaccob Slavin on the left point. Slavin sent a bomb that had eyes through the mass of bodies in front of the net to put the Canes up 4-0. At 14:01, the Canes added to their lead on continued hustle, with the Kings showing signs of fatigue. Staal made a pass to Ferland, who then passed up to Turbo in the high slot with Ferland rushing to the crease for a screen.
Turbo sent a hard shot from the slot when Ferland was just about to cross the crease. Quick made the initial save but the momentum had the puck trickling in as Ferland went airborne to avoid Quick. Quick’s glove caught Ferland’s skate and the tough guy went down hard on the ice. Forty seconds later, the Canes closed out their scoring. Staal and Turbo had quick passes back and forth when Turbo sent the puck up to Hamilton on the right point who wasted no time in sending a hard slap shot past Quick for a season best 6-0 lead.
Mrazek Misses Shutout
The only unanswered question for the night was would Mrazek get the Canes fifth shutout in February. Dustin Brown spoiled the well-deserved shutout after he made a good fake that left Hamilton hanging, going in on Mrazek. Slavin came over from the right, did a full body slide but Brown lifted the puck over Slavin and past Mrazek to avoid the shutout. The Canes needed the win to keep them in the third playoff spot in the Metro division as Pittsburgh also won and while both have the same number of points, the Canes are ahead due to the tie breakers.
The Canes closed out February as the most successful February in team history. The Caniacs are appreciative and I did hear one fan say he would have left after the Canes were up 6-0 or when the shutout was spoiled, but he wanted to stay for the Storm Surge. The Surge found Stormy as the lone sole on the ice leading the clapping as the Canes went to the dressing room. Turns out when the clapping got fast, the Canes returned to the ice with each player tossing two Bunch of Jerks t-shirts to the crowd then jumping into the boards.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in attendance, he commented on the Storm Surge before the game at a press conference that he thought the Surge was a good thing and agreed to disagree with his friend Don Cherry, the source of the bunch of jerks comment. Next home game is Friday, March 1, 2019 against another playoff team, the St. Louis Blues. Be there!