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Special Teams Push Hurricanes Past Oilers in 6-2 Victory

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Conversions on special teams decided the game early and powered the Canes to an easy win over the Oilers.

NHL: Preseason-Carolina Hurricanes at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes overwhelmed the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, handing the Oilers their first loss in the preseason while improving the Canes to 4-1-0. The special teams play by the Hurricanes proved far too powerful for Cam Talbot and the Oilers defense.

The first period was dominated by the Hurricanes and the scoring started early on. Drake Caggiula took a slashing penalty (more on that theme later) at 5:02 which was followed by a hooking call on Jujhar Khaira which set up a 5 on 3 for the Canes. Teuvo Teravainen connected and put the the boys in red up. This was just the beginning for the Hurricanes special teams play.

While the remainder of the first period was dominated by the Hurricanes and spent mostly in the Oilers zone, the Canes did hiccup once, allowing Ryan Strome to score at 17:51 of the first period. Strome’s goal was set up by a turnover in the neutral zone, then Jaccob Slavin was defeated in a puck battle in front of Scott Darling allowing Strome to tap the puck in.

Teravainen quickly responded just 1:03 later with his second power play goal of the period to give the Canes a 2-1 lead heading in to the first intermission. Shots for the first period showed the domination by the Canes, as they were ahead 15-4 after 20 minutes.

Coming out for the second period, the Canes continued to lead the way. Adam Larsson took a slashing penalty at 5:20 of the 2nd and while the Canes did not connect they did generate chances. Victor Rask took a rare penalty nearly halfway through the second (you guessed it, slashing) and while on the penalty kill the Canes caught the Oilers changing. Josh Jooris walked in on Cam Talbot shorthanded, with Lucas Wallmark alongside. A very good pass by Jooris set up Wallmark for his second goal this preseason, putting the Canes up 3-1.

Cagguila took his second slashing penalty of the game 80 seconds later putting the Canes back on the PP, followed by Kris Russell tripping Janne Kuokkanen which set up a second 5 on 3 opportunity for the Hurricanes. A fantastic one touch pass from Justin Williams set up Kuokkanen in front, who one-timed the puck past Talbot to score his first goal this preseason.

Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft, pocketed his league leading 5th preseason goal at 18:34 of the second to close the gap to 4-2. This was a power play goal off a Josh Jooris penalty (slashing!) where the defense slightly broke down and Darling was unable to get the stop.

As the teams came out for the third, the Hurricanes refused to allow the Oilers to gain momentum from the late period goal. Jordan Staal made sure of that, scoring just 42 seconds in to the period off a beautiful no look pass from Kuokkanen. A little over six minutes later Staal struck again off a rebound in front, with the assists going to Kuokkanen and Trevor van Riemsdyk. This put the Canes up 6-2, where they would remain for the rest of the game.

Edmonton iced what looks to be at least 10 NHL forwards and a very close resemblance to what most suspect will be their opening night roster, and the Canes outplayed them. First-round pick Martin Necas had a quiet night while Janne Kuokkanen, who is also fighting for a roster spot, shined. Lucas Wallmark is showing each night that he deserves a roster spot and Bill Peters has to be scratching his head on the final roster cuts due to all the talent, which is a great problem to have.

Scott Darling looked decent in his first game action for the Hurricanes. Expect him to get better the more he plays, but there did not appear to be lingering effects from his training camp injury. The defense stepped up and shut down league MVP Connor McDavid while the special teams got it done. To finish up on the slashing note, which is a hot topic in the NHL right now, the players continued to be plagued by the stricter enforcement, as six total slashing penalties where called.

All in all the Canes were impressive, even if it was just preseason. These same two teams will face off again Wednesday in Saskatoon for a neutral site game for which the Hurricanes will be the “home team”.