Cary, NC – After Tuesday’s collapse in the third period against the best team in hockey and certainly one of the best in hockey history, Tampa Bay, the Carolina Hurricanes bounced back against Western Conference foe the Minnesota Wild, 5-1 in front of a fun crowd that started getting into playoff form.
Canes Rebound With Solid 5-1 Win Over Wild
There were plenty of tailgates going before the game, the Caniacs were loud throughout the game and started one of the fastest fan waves in recent history. The Canes were led by the line of Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov that had a combined three goals and three assists with each scoring a goal.
Mrazek, Dubnyk Sharp Early
The Canes came into the game with a very impressive 30-6-3 record when scoring the all-important first goal of the game. Players don’t usually let stats like that enter their mind – coaches certainly don’t – but fans do and the Caniacs were hoping that streak continued.
The game had its own drama, with Eric Staal and Victor Rask now the Wild and Nino Niederreiter now a Cane. EStaal is having a decent year but the Wild fans were hoping for another year like last year when he had 42 goals, but entered the game with a still respectable 20 goals. Rask continues to have a year, being snake bit, starting off with the severe hand cut while preparing a meal during training camp and only has 1 goal and 1 assist with the Wild. El Nino has 12 goals and 12 assists with the Canes and makes GM Don Waddell look like a magician with that even up trade.
Both Jordan and brother Eric have a special bond between them and certainly would rather play with rather than against each other, but when they are on opposing teams, both are hard working professionals. They are also the only two brothers that have each scored 500 points and not part of the Montreal franchise before the NHL expansion. EStaal has many friends and is a well-respected player in the league, but on the ice he’s all business and may dig a little harder when going against a good friend like he did against good friend Justin Williams in the far corner early in the first.
The Wild beat the Capitals the night before, which put them in a wild card spot by a point but that lasted only 20 hours as just before game time, the Avalanche won their game leap frogging the Wild by a point. The Canes had a great first period, showing Rod Brind’Amour everything he had to ask: fast on the puck, tight checking, many shots, no let down, traffic in front of the net and hard play in all three zones. The Canes did everything but put the puck in the net with the Wild’s top goalie Devan Dubnyk in net for the second night in a row as this game meant so much.
JStaal, Pesce Put Canes Up
The Canes got that important first goal – JStaal won a battle for the puck in the near corner, passing over to Turbo along the half boards. Turbo slid the puck up to Justin Faulk on the right point who skated towards the middle inside the blue line sending a hard shot that was two feet wide of the net, but JStaal was camped out in front and tipped the puck perfectly to redirect it in past Dubynk. Not quite two and a half minutes later, Willie was battling for the puck in the neutral zone with two Wild players when the puck squirted loose. Sebastian Aho snared the puck in stride carrying it into the O-zone and making a patented stop along the half boards for scan of the landscape. Seeing Willie coming over the blue line untouched, Seabass fed Willie who calmly looked around, saw Brett Pesce skating hard on the left side, slid a gift pass that Pesce took his time, pick a spot and sent a beauty in for a nice 2-0 lead. Pesce has been playing some of his best hockey lately and to make it sweeter, his parents were at the game.
Later, Michael Ferland stole the puck right at the far end blue line but got his stick up high on the follow through for a double minor. The Canes’ PK was doing well, having killed off the first half without any shots. After a missed opportunity for a clear, the Wild kept the puck in the Canes’ end. Kevin Fiala had the puck up high and was coming down broadway but passed over to EStaal inside the far faceoff circle. EStaal made a quick hard pass to the crease with Jason Zucker and Trevor van Riemsdyk fighting for position. The puck was perfectly placed two feet in front of the net, Petr Mrazek came out to deflect the puck but the puck had a bad bounce that hit his right pad and went backwards into the net for EStaal’s 415th career goal. Good players make puck luck.
Svech, Wallmark, Turbo and All Canes Solid In Third
The Canes knew the Wild had a game the night before and had to travel but there was no mercy as the Canes kicked it up a notch in the third. JStaal used his strength to win a puck deep in the Wild end. His pass to Turbo was intercepted but Turbo made a quick steal, made a nifty drag of the puck around a defender, twisted around another before passing to Svech in the low spot. Svech muscled around his defender, got the puck, then making a finesse shot up to the far corner for a pretty goal and solid 3-1 lead.
A little under midway in the period, Jordan Martinook used his speed to steal the puck in the Wild’s end, quickly passing over to Ferland along the far boards. Ferland was double-teamed but made a perfect and hard pass to Lucas Wallmark racing down the middle of the ice, who slapped home the shot for a textbook play. Two minutes later, Turbo had intercepted the puck at the Wild blue line off a lazy pass by Greg Pateryn that Coach Bruce Boudreau should have comments about after the game. Turbo went to the goal all alone, did a fake, then went wide shoveling the puck in to seal the win. Boudreau turned beet red after that goal and that locker room was one place to avoid the game.
Pesce ended the game with a +5 rating and was selected at the games #3 star but if I had a vote, he was the #1 star as he’d was a beast this game. The Canes also set a franchise record with 20 wins against Western Conference teams in a season. The Storm Surge was the Canes version of March Madness with TVR taking it all the way for a jam slam much to the enjoyment of the crowd. Before the game, I was talking to a writer for the Montreal Canadiens who thought the Storm Surge was a fantastic thing for both the team and fans and was curious how it all started. Hindsight says I should have given him a Bunch of Jerks hat.
Svechnikov Scores In OT For Canes 2-1 Win
There are games that are high and there are games that are low but the highly crucial game the Canes played against the Montreal Canadiens Sunday had the feel of different games as there were periods of highs and lows for the Canes.
Both teams currently occupy the two Wild Card spots, so this game was huge. If the Canes win, they give themselves a little breathing room, not that Rod Brind’Amour will allow any easing on the gas. If the Habs win, the teams are tied in points, but the Canes have a game at hand. Turns out it was another three-point game with the Canes getting the all-important second point and in a come from behind win.
McElhinney and Price Are Sharp
As the saying goes, both teams started on time meaning they were fast out of the gate with both Curtis McElhinney and Carey Price challenged early as there was a shot barrage by both clubs with the Canes taking 10 shots before the first TV timeout to the Habs eight. Neither coach could be happy with the looseness of the play and the number of grade A shots that were being set up.
Both teams are fast and the tone for fast north-south hockey resembled a tennis match at some points with the play quickly going up one end with a shot, then headed in the other direction for another shot. Shea Weber, one of the league’s top three defensemen, got called for tripping at the 7:13 mark of the first putting the Canes on the powerplay. The Canes’ powerplay has been the weakness of the team for most of the year and with Weber off for two minutes, maybe now was the time to get out of that slump. Plus the Caniacs haven’t enjoyed a Boberry biscuit lately, which everyone gets when the Canes score a powerplay goal.
While the puck movement for the first minute and a half was the best on the powerplay in games, the outcome of no goal was the same. Right after the man advantage, Saku Maenalanen had a shot blocked by Price with the bouncing rebound going to Brock McGinn with his eyes as wide open as the net. McGinn couldn’t get the puck settled enough as the puck went two feet wide of the net.
Late in the period, the Canes had some confusion on a clear with Teuvo Teravainen getting beat by Brendan Gallagher who found Paul Byron boxing out Dougie Hamilton for an easy tip in for the 1-0 lead. Seconds later, after the Canadiens won the ensuing faceoff at center ice, they entered the Canes’ zone. The defense flubbed another clear but this time CMac made an unbelievable save to keep Brind’Amour from going into orbit. The Canes ended the period with 21 shots with at least eight of those on second chance shots that usually have a high percentage going in but not against Carey Price.
Canes Sticks Go Cold
As much of a shooting barrage the Canes had in the first, Habs coach Claude Julien, a great coach that has to learn how to smile, must have reminded the team just because they have Price, it takes a whole team for defense, as the Canes first shot was nearly 16 minutes into the second. As it turns out, the Canes only had four shots on net in the second with Price stopping all.
CMac was equally good stopping all nine shots he faced, several were breakaways that got the Caniacs into the game as most were sitting on their hands most of the game. CMac is a seasoned journeyman who has ice in his veins, always calm, isn’t the barking type, just comes to work with his lunchbox and does his job very well everyday. Both coaches had to comment on the critical importance of the game and tight checking was the mantra, as only a combined 13 shots were in the second compared to 33 in the first. Nonetheless the game was exciting, partly because of the points needed by both team but despite some flubs by both teams, it was a defensive gem to watch. Both goalies were outstanding with both making stops that had players looking up as they knew their shot would be a goal against most other keepers.
van Riemsdyk Ties it, Svechnikov Wins It In OT
Both Brind’Amour and the team talked about just getting more rubber thrown towards the net. Analytics are used by every team but forget where a player shot from or how much time they held the puck or go to the high percentage area, Brindy just wanted shots. The Canes responded with a total of 14 in the period and another period in which the Habs had fewer shots than the previous period as they just had six in the third. Sebastian Aho had a step in his defender but Price must have studied films as he closed the 5-hole just as Seabass shot frustrating the talented Finn.
Not two minutes later, Turbo had a breakaway that Price also stopped as the Caniacs got even more quite as they pondered what was it going to take to beat Price. Very late in the period, with the hard working third forward line on the ice, Jordan Martinook was along the near half boards and flung the puck around the back of the net to Michael Ferland. Ferland got it right behind the net, skated to the corner sending it up to Trevor van Riemsdyk at the right point. TVR, still biting on his mouth protector like an old stogie, as instructed, simply threw the puck towards the goal.
As if Roddy knew what would happen, the puck bounces off a defenders stick to the right of Price hitting the back of the net to tie the game and wake up the Caniacs. Not that it was a shut down mode at that time, but both teams were now playing not to lose rather than a desperation of a must win.
The game wound up going into overtime with both teams already gaining a point, but needed the extra point. The Canes started the OT with what may be deemed a slow group. Overtime is all about possession, not necessarily speed but if there was a loose puck, then speed is usually the winning factor. The Canadiens got off the first shot in OT but CMac was up to the task making a nice save. With a mix of lines on the ice, Jordan Staal won a battle along the boards, getting the puck up to Andrei Svechnikov on the right wing. I honestly can’t remember Svech playing in OT before so seeing the rookie out there was a surprise.
With Staal joining the rush going left, Svech used him as an option, then calmly picked a spot, took a shot 18 feet out that beat Price to net the Canes the all-important second point. Svech turns 19 on Tuesday when the Canes play in Washington so call this goal, his 20th, an early birthday present.
The OT wins puts the Canes with an impressive 12-3-1 on the second half of back to back games. The Storm Surge was reeling in the big one as the Canes imitated reeling in big fish with the fish flopping on the ice, with the big one being the extra point.
Next home game is Thursday, March 28, 2019 for the second half of a home and home against potential first round opponent, the Washington Capitals. Be there!