You expected goals and you got plenty. As is historically the case, the match-up between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders was a high scoring affair. Luckily, the Hurricanes were able to FINN-ish the game on top...ok, I’ll stop right there.
But, oh, was there drama before the game.
Victor Rask was listed as a healthy scratch after his poor play over the past few ga—wait, the whole season, really. Bill Peters wanted to send a message to his struggling Swedish forward, banishing him to the press box.
This slump has remained consistent since the second half of last season. At one point last year, Rask went a whole month without recording a point. And five points in 18 games isn’t cutting it, not with a $4 million cap hit per year. It’s not time to banish the man and look for a trade, but he has to exorcise these demons. He’s been shuffled throughout the line with different players on his wing but hasn’t been able to find consistency yet. Rask needs to take a look in the mirror after the benching and find his confidence again.
Sitting in the press box hasn’t happened to Rask in quite some time. For context:
Rask hadn’t been a healthy scratch in nearly three years: February 2015 he sat for two games during his rookie season. Played all 82 last year and 80 the season before, missing two with an upper body injury.— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) November 20, 2017
The first period began with a bang. Literally, Sebastian Aho’s shot off a great feed from Teuvo Teravainen was so fast that it broke the sound barrier.
His teammates and the fans didn’t really react as the shot rocketed off his stick. Frankly, I thought it went out of play or maybe even got stuck on the outside of the cage. Regardless, the Canes went up 1-0 less than two minutes into the game.
But the TSA line didn’t stop there. Teravainen struck two minutes later and continued his hot streak. He is now on pace to be a point per game player, with 19 points in 19 games. He’ll most likely not keep that pace but he’s helping the Canes win games as of late. Over the past four games, he’s put up ten points and the Hurricanes have gone 3-1-0. Not bad.
But here come the Islanders. Nick Leddy embarrassed the Canes defense like that weird uncle that asks you how your ex is doing at the Thanksgiving dinner table while you’re sitting next to your current girlfriend. Bad back-checking by Marcus Kruger allowed Leddy to slip by and then he split Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, who scrambled to cover but didn’t make it in time. This is one of the few times this season where Slavin didn’t look #elite. Leddy seems to have the Hurricanes number this season, as he also scored in their matchup earlier this week.
Carolina didn’t let that highlight reel goal shake them, though, and Elias Lindholm tacked on another in the third period to extend the Hurricanes lead. The play was the epitome of “team play” as a beautiful passing play made it easy for Lindholm to fire a shot into the back of the net. That made it 3-1...the worst lead in hockey.
But Turbo said no to the voodoo of 3-1 leads and added an insurance goal with a rocket. The puck blasted over the blocker side of Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak and almost popped the water bottle attached to the back of the net like you see in video games. John Tavares added a goal late in the third period, no doubt looking to impress his future general manager, Ron Francis.
Cam Ward played his best game of the season by far. He’s been impressive in a backup role and it seems to suit him as he gets into the later part of his career. He made saves that made him look like prime Cam Ward, but let’s not get carried away: playing Scott Darling consistently will still be key for the Hurricanes. But to know you have a veteran backup that can provide some relief for starters is comforting and a luxury the Canes haven’t had in a long time, if ever.
One more thing before I go. If you see the real Justin Faulk, can you let him know the Hurricanes are playing meaningful games in November and need him to show up?