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.
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For the second game in a row against Tampa Bay, the Canes entered the third period leading the Lightning but eventually lost against a very powerful team that plays a full 60 minutes each and every game.
Both the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins knew the criticality of this particular game as they were separated by just three points in the Playoff race. If the Canes win and that drops to just one point, they lose in regulation and they’re behind by five, which at this point in the season could be too large to overcome. As much as I don’t like three-point games, this one turned into that as the Canes did find a way to win with a 3-2 shootout victory.
On a beautiful nearly Spring day, the atmosphere both outside and inside the PNC Arena was reminiscent of the spring of 2006 when the Caniacs set the standard for tailgating at hockey games outside and earning the then-reputation of the loudest house in the NHL. The Canes were coming off a tough 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets, the other team that’s in a Wildcard position while the Buffalo Sabres were waiting and resting in Raleigh, and needed these two points to solidify their wildcard position while also watching the scoreboard a little to see if they can inch up to the third spot in the east.
There’s no dancing around this: the Canes played three consecutive periods of lackluster hockey that saw them get totally throttled by the much bigger Winnipeg Jets 8-1. Only three skaters on the Jets did not have a point, which is amazing seeing how every line and how balanced their scoring was.
Since the calendar turned to 2019, the St. Louis Blues have been the hottest team in the NHL with the Canes #2. The Canes home record was identical to the Blues away record at 17-10-4 so that changes as the Canes came from behind pulling out a resounding 5-2 win.
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 opportunity was there, playing a team far below them in the standings and no chance to make the playoffs, but the Canes couldn’t figure out how to get more than one past future Hall of Famer, Henrik Lundqvist. The King was on his game and not acting like a 36-year-old goalie should act. He was athletic, agile, sharp with the blocker, good with the catching glove and rarely gave up a rebound.
The Carolina Hurricanes now see themselves in a playoff spot as they play an exciting series of games in 2019. Just this past weekend, the Canes got two big wins, including one against the Edmonton Oilers and one of the best hockey players in the game right now, Connor McDavid.
The Super Bowl may have been slow but the action was fast-paced at PNC Arena as the Carolina Hurricanes took on the Division leaders the Calgary Flames, as well as the Stanley Cup finalists the Las Vegas Golden Knights earlier in the weekend.