Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack scores goals like he’s a number two overall pick. But Jack be not enough to handle the storm and the mighty sea, for this story belongs to the man with the second C.
In a side note, I submit my resignation from Canes Country, I have have found a new gig writing nursery rhymes.
(Ed. note: don’t quit your day job, Hagan.)
In all seriousness now, there is one thing I was not joking about: this story belongs to Jaccob Slavin and not Jack Eichel. Last night we all witnessed one of the Canes’ own young superstars ruining the party for Eichel and his team, and I’m not just saying that to complete this theme!
The Carolina Hurricanes’ 5-4 overtime defeat of the Buffalo Sabres last night certainly did not start out looking like a game that would feature nine goals. For the entire first period there were no goals scored and you could tell both teams just hadn’t found their legs yet. The only guy who looked dangerous from the start was Jack Eichel. More on him later.
As the end of the period neared there were two very questionable calls against the Hurricanes. First Brock McGinn was called for goaltender interference on a play where he appeared to be pushed in. The Canes killed it off and then Jeff Skinner was hooked in the offensive zone—ostensibly good for the Hurricanes, but then Skinner was called for the worst embellishment call in the 2017 season. Thankfully neither of these came back to bite the Canes but the refs weren’t exactly on their A game last night.
Bad embellishment call on Skinner. He smashes his stick as he goes down the tunnel.— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) December 16, 2017
As the second period began the Canes had a 4 on 3 powerplay that naturally could not convert and the drowsiness of the game would continue until the 10:16 mark. That is when Justin Williams fought his way to the front of the net and potted a rebound off a Jordan Staal shot to put the Canes up 1-0. The real heroes of this play are Noah Hanifin and Trevor van Riemsdyk who both did a great job holding the zone which created a chance for Staal to get the puck on net.
The glory wouldn’t last long though, as Jack Eichel would score his first goal of the night just 30 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1. Staal got beat to the net and a guy with Eichel’s talent will always make you pay when that happens.
The rest of the second would be rounded out with some very big saves by Cam Ward but the team remained deadlocked after two.
That Third Period Though!
The third period was the fun period in Buffalo last night. Both teams floored the gas pedal and it was on. The start was terrible for the Canes as they gave Jason Pominville a wide open chance in front of Ward that he completely fanned on. But shortly after Jake McCabe would make the Canes pay with his second goal of the year.
That goal apparently lit a fire under Carolina as they would score the next three goals in a span of just under four minutes. Jordan Staal got the first goal with his best tryout attempt for the Durham Bulls.
Jordan Staal tallies off of Slavin's shot and it's knotted up at 2! pic.twitter.com/laWZvaBtbG— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 16, 2017
Notice who had the primary assist there? None other than Jaccob Slavin and that was just the start to a magical ending for him. Derek Ryan’s goal was a tip in out in front that caught everyone by surprise. Brett Pesce does a good job getting a shot on goal and Ryan is able to get just enough for his sixth of the year.
Then Ryan would factor in to the Canes’ fourth goal by being the middle man of a tic tac toe situation where Slavin created the play by fighting to get the puck up ice.
Going up 4-2 in the third period after being down 2-1 would make most teams feel great about the situation. But the Canes seemingly only know how to end hockey games in overtime, so they set out to ensure that would happen.
For as great as Cam Ward was all night, Eichel made him look really bad in a matter of 10 seconds. Eichel brought the Sabres within one at the 9:24 mark on a shot that just got through and beat Ward too easily. Then this happened:
All of a sudden we are tied. Amazingly the Canes had blown another third period lead and flashbacks to San Jose are popping up everywhere.
That second C stands for clutch, captain-material, captivating, etc. For as great as Eichel was last night, Slavin got it done when needed. As the teams faced off in overtime, Staal had the only chance for the Canes early. After some back and forth, Cam Ward made a sprawling save on an Evander Kane breakaway. As the Canes came back down the ice it was time for some sweet chin Slavin music.
Slavin has had some miscues this season that we haven't seen before, but he is still the number one defenseman on this team. He is an all around great guy and the Canes are lucky to have him. While his first overtime winner may not be his first goal, it may be his most crucial goal for the Canes as they absolutely had to find a way to get two points last night.
Whatcha talkin bout Willis? For the Carolina Hurricanes, home is somewhere they may not remember. But after their win last night, they are finally back home, at least for a cup of coffee.
For the last 13 days the Hurricanes have been on the road traversing North America in search of victories. While they didn’t come away with what they wanted, their win last night helped them bring back six of twelve possible points for a 2-2-2 record.
It was nowhere near pretty and everyone had hoped for a little more, but ultimately they will take it. After the terrible loss to Vancouver and the terrible gut feelings following San Jose and Los Angeles, the team actually sits in a decent place returning to Raleigh. Now they have a chance to go for three in a row tonight in what is essentially a road game played at PNC Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Moral of the Story
Last night was a perfect example of the Carolina Hurricanes all season long. Do some great things then lapse completely. But they found a way to win and that is was they have to keep doing.
The Canes have battled for nearly two weeks on the road. Nothing has been pretty but they can say they survived it. Surely it could have been better, but it also could have been much worse. Cam Ward is now Mr. 301 and has done everything he can to take away the starting goalie position from Scott Darling. The team returns to PNC tonight for a must-win game and a chance for a lot of good things to begin. Darling has a chance to come out and prove something while the team has a chance to win three in a row for the first time this year. What happens remains to be seen, but if they can simply find a way to win (in regulation maybe?) that’s all that matters.