The first regulation loss always stings. It’s a little easier to swallow when you go on a five-game point streak to start the year, and it’s easier still when you can come out of it saying, “Not a bad effort.”
Undoubtedly a little winded from an action-packed overtime win in Minnesota, the Hurricanes came up on the short end Sunday against the Jets, 3-1. A first-period goal would have been huge to helping Carolina pull a point out of Sunday’s game, but Laurent Brossoit’s pads plus big saves on Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov made it quite tough for the Canes to convert a few lethal chances.
In the second and third, the Canes began to show fatigue, letting a batch of breakaways and unmanned shots through. Instead of taking a big deficit due to shaky goaltending, though, possibly-soon-to-be backup netminder Petr Mrazek stepped up time and time again.
Without Mrazek, this game had the feeling of a 5-1 score or something of the like. He was the best defender throughout the game (sorry, Jaccob Slavin — Mrazek played more time) and came up with what may be his most awe-inducing save of the year early in the second period.
With Aho biting after a giveaway in the offensive zone and Calvin de Haan caught puck watching, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine broke down the ice for a 2-on-0 chance. A few quick passes helped create some space between the post and Mrazek for Ehlers to score, but Mrazek flung his blocker to pad the puck down (maybe less notice — he immediately got set and for a puck no more than a couple seconds later off the rebound).
Petr Mrazek with a phenomenal save on the 2-on-0 breakaway. WOW. pic.twitter.com/0P92avrndY— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 15, 2018
Just moments before, he shutdown another breakaway — this time a 2-on-1 — and got back to the center of the crease to stop a shot by the lethal Laine.
Petr Mrazek has been very good. And he stops Laine on the 2-on-1. pic.twitter.com/DnCHo20sEv— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 15, 2018
The magic couldn’t last all night, though. In the third period, the Jets were finally able to get one in on the power play (questionable penalty on Staal, but can we stop grabbing sticks plz?). Despite Mrazek playing up toward the puck and leaving an open net for Laine, you gotta wonder how that puck gets past a perfectly positioned Brett Pesce.
But the game-winner was sadly where the magic rubbed off. The Canes got caught in a line change, and though they sped their way down to defend, they just weren’t set, and Bryan Little was able to get a clean shot off. The Mrazek Mania that had built in me during the game said it would be a glove save, but the shot was just too good.
A save line of 23-for-25 isn’t going to make anyone’s eyes bulge, but those who watched the game saw the Canes couldn’t have had a shot at a win without him, and though we come out empty-handed, it’s certainly yet another confidence builder in a strong early season.
Other notes from last night:
- Of all the Canes to score in Manitoba, it sure was pretty cool to see Micheal Ferland get the goal. Ferland, born in Swan River, MB — a good five hours from Winnipeg — even got some love from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the club with which he spent six seasons from midgets to the WHL:
- Valentin Zykov only got 4:43 of ice time on Saturday against the Wild. He nearly doubled that total with 9:18 on Sunday, showing some strong puck handling in his first few shifts. However, he left with nothing on the stat line outside of a block despite the freshest legs on the ice.
- Is Tripp Tracy just corny or actually country?
- No caption necessary:
Sebastian Aho continues point streak, now at six games! pic.twitter.com/qpLmQ9gPEr— Hurricanes Stats™ (@NHLCanesStats) October 15, 2018
- Slavin still elite, folks:
Jaccob Slavin with a goal-saving defensive play. Huge play. pic.twitter.com/R3scqbFjEF— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 15, 2018
On Monday, the NHL announced that Sebastian Aho has been named the league’s third star for the week ending October 14. Aho’s seven points in three games last week included a four-point night against Minnesota in which he scored the overtime game-winner, and extended his point streak to six games to open the season, the sixth player in franchise history to achieve the feat.
It’s Aho’s second time being honored as a league star of the week. He was the first star for the week ending February 6, 2017 during his rookie season. The most recent player to be honored prior to Aho was his linemate, Teuvo Teravainen, who was the first star of the week ending November 20, 2017.
The release from the team is below.
SEBASTIAN AHO NAMED NHL’S THIRD STAR OF THE WEEK
Forward has opened the season with a six-game point streak
The National Hockey League today announced that Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho has been named its “Third Star” for the week ending Oct. 14.
Aho posted seven points (3g, 4a) in three games last week, including a pair of multi-point games. The 6’0”, 176-pound forward recorded a goal and an assist in Carolina’s 5-3 win over Vancouver on Oct. 9, then matched a career high with four points (2g, 2a), including the overtime winner, in a 5-4 win at Minnesota on Oct. 13. Aho also tallied an assist at Winnipeg on Oct. 14.
The Rauma, Finland, native is the sixth player in franchise history to open the season with a six-game point streak (4g, 7a). Aho has earned more points in six games this season (11) than in 18 previous October games in his career (10), and had not recorded an October goal prior to this season. In 2017-18, he became the youngest player since relocation to lead the Hurricanes in scoring, finishing the season with 65 points (29g, 36a) at 20 years and 255 days old. The only players from the 2015 NHL Draft who have scored more career goals than Aho (57) are Connor McDavid (89) and Jack Eichel (76).