The 5-4 final scoreline shows a high-scoring affair—including a four-round shootout—but the game was always going to mean more than just the goals and saves.
There was an emotional air in the building after Bryan Bickell’s retirement announcement earlier in the day, and he earned quite an ovation as he was named in the starting five for the Canes in his final career home game.
But the Blues quickly put a dent into that inspirational feeling. Just 26 seconds after the puck was dropped, Ivan Barbashev potted a rebound to put the Blues ahead and the Canes on their heels early.
The Hurricanes continued looking for their first goal in three home games, and eventually found it from the unlikeliest of sources.
Klas Dahlbeck managed to tie the game with a wrist shot from distance. His shot weaved through several players and dipped under Carter Hutton’s glove.
The teams traded a chance or two for the remainder of the period, but the Canes were the only ones to convert.
Jeff Skinner tapped home a rebound from a Brett Pesce shot with just 28 seconds left in the frame to send the Canes into the locker room with the lead.
The second period began with a power play for the Blues as Jordan Staal’s hooking penalty carried over, but they were not able to capitalize on their opportunity.
They did, however, make the most of their next man-advantage in the form of an Alexander Steen bomb from the blue line to tie the game at two goals apiece.
St. Louis continued to carry the majority of the play, but Carolina worked their way back with a few chances of their own.
Joakim Nordstrom found the back of the net and put the Canes ahead once again after some strong work on the boards by Victor Rask and a slick pass from Sergei Tolchinsky, who earned his first point of the year in his first call-up.
But the Blues would answer again, this time with their own unlikely producer. Ryan Reaves’ bouncing wrist shot found its way over the glove of a lackadaisical Cam Ward with just under a minute left in the second to tie the game.
At the second intermission, Mike Maniscalco talked to Bickell’s wife Amanda about their journey with multiple sclerosis in an emotional but determined interview:
In the third, the Hurricanes earned a power play with Colton Parayko in the box once again, but forgot how to hockey as they gave up two consecutive shorthanded breakaways to the Blues.
Scottie Upshall made the most of the first of those two breakaways, giving his team the lead with a forehand-backhand-forehand move and top shelf finish over Ward.
Carolina managed to right the ship with a few offensive chances, culminating in a tying goal from the one and only Jeff Skinner.
Skinner picked up a rebound from a Noah Hanifin point shot behind the net, juggled it on his stick, and tucked it in the minuscule opening between Hutton’s skate and the post.
Following Skinner’s goal, the moment of the night came as both teams recognized Bryan Bickell for his courage during a stoppage of play with a video message and an extended round of applause and stick taps. Bickell took a skate around in a salute of his own.
Regulation time would end with neither team adding to its tally, though Sebastian Aho nearly had the game-winner with one second left as Hutton came up with a key save.
Overtime featured a penalty to each team but no goals. Brett Pesce came close to finding the game-winner, putting a backhander off the post prior to Jordan Staal taking a penalty.
In the shootout, Lee Stempniak scored first for the Canes with a nifty backhand move and got the Canes started on the right foot.
But Cam Ward couldn’t shut the door as Patrik Berglund tied the game in the second round, and Vladimir Tarasenko beat him with a wrist shot in the fourth to win the game.
Ward stopped 35 shots, while the Blues’ Carter Hutton made 34 saves of his own.
The Hurricanes will finish out the season in Philadelphia tomorrow night.
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