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Recap: Thomas Greiss Spoils Hurricanes’ Opening Night In 2-1 Overtime Loss

History repeated itself on Thursday night at PNC Arena.

Jamie Kellner

RALEIGH — If this is how the Carolina Hurricanes’ season is going to go, buckle up.

Thomas Greiss put on another highlight-reel show for his second straight appearance in PNC Arena, and despite a late Dougie Hamilton goal to tie the game, the New York Islanders skated away with a 2-1 overtime win despite allowing more than twice as many shots as they took.

The Hurricanes came out flying, looking every bit the part of the preseason powerhouse that had put on a show in games that didn’t count. They were rewarded for their play by earning an early power play, on which both Justin Faulk and Andrei Svechnikov hit the crossbar. The Islanders, meanwhile, seemed content to ride the wave for the first ten minutes, and really dialed up the pressure in the second half of the period, once the opening night adrenaline had worn off a bit.

We interrupt this recap to report that Martin Necas also did this:

And in photographic form:

But proving that you might be able to take the old coach away from the team, but the team is never far from the old coach, the Canes continued their somewhat infuriating ways of being shot superstars that never amounted to all that much on the scoreboard. Carolina outshot New York 16-7 in the first period and 15-7 in the second, yet it was the Islanders who jumped out to a lead - and almost did it in the first minute of the second period, when Sebastian Aho cleared the puck off the goal line behind Petr Mrazek and averted disaster temporarily.

But it wouldn’t last. A poor clear and a fumbled puck led to a Dougie Hamilton giveaway to Valtteri Filppula, who had all day to pick his spot over Mrazek and didn’t miss from the near circle. It was nearly 2-0 on a power play barely two minutes later, when Trevor van Riemsdyk deflected a point shot that changed direction on Mrazek and grazed the post. In keeping with the theme, Svechnikov hit the post again later in the period, and by that point the sellout crowd in PNC Arena was having unwelcome flashbacks to years past.

There were some bright spots, to be sure. Warren Foegele looks like a natural on a line with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams, and nearly set up Staal for the opening goal when a rebound bounced to the slot and Staal skied it high over the crossbar. Sebastian Aho almost found Svechnikov on a second-period power play when everyone on the ice had lost track of the rookie.

And everyone got in on the act - literally. Every player on the ice registered at least one shot, led by Staal with six.

But as he did last season, when he shut out the Hurricanes last February despite facing 45 shots, Thomas Greiss was not to be denied in spite of the onslaught. He robbed Aho on the Canes’ 38th shot of the night, and got plenty of help from his penalty kill which blocked pass after pass after Luca Sbisa was penalized seven minutes into the third period for playing the puck with a broken stick.

Put another way, the Hurricanes had taken 88 shots the last two games against Greiss and scored on precisely zero of them.

But on the 89th, delirium.

Dougie Hamilton, who oddly had not seen any power play time all night, wired in a wrister from the right point with 1:35 to go that was tipped past Greiss by Jordan Staal. A lengthy video review led to a restless crowd, and for almost five minutes referees Tim Peel and Dean Morton huddled around the home penalty box looking to see if Staal had kicked the puck into the net. Finally, Morton announced that the goal stood, and PNC Arena got to towel-twisting to the dulcet tones of siren sounder Petey Pablo.

That sent the game to overtime, but Micheal Ferland’s tripping penalty with three seconds left proved costly when Josh Bailey wired a laser home from the far circle under Mrazek’s glove 43 seconds into overtime, sending the Canes home with one point but feeling like they should have earned two.

They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

I thought it was a good game by our guys. I thought we did exactly what we wanted to do. Unfortunately we did’nt score, that was the obvious lacking there, but we created a lot of offense. Our goalie played great. Petr kept us in it, and I thought we just kept going, going, going. If we build on that, if we play that way, we’ll have a good chance.

[On Svechnikov:] I see that I need to get him out there more. You can see the confidence building, from day one of training camp to now, he wants the puck. All these young kids think they can bang through everybody, and that’s what we have to teach them. There are times to show your skills and times to fight another day.

The unfortunate part is that people came here tonight wanting to see a win, and I hate it that we have to go home and say “oh, we lost the game.” But as a coach, seeing what we want to try to accomplish, I would take that game — other than the score — any day.

They know they played a good game. You look yourself in the mirror, you played your butt off, and you can walk out of here feeling good about it. That’s what the message is. Hockey’s not always fair. I think we were the better team tonight. It just didn’t work out that way.

I don’t know how this works. This is my first kick at it, so I don’t know how you talk about refereeing. [laughs] I know the safe thing is to just not say anything. It was the right call, but Pesce got held on the 4-on-3 and that wasn’t called. You can call something every play. I thought they were fine. It was a tripping call.

For me, it’s just a matter of trying to get better every day like the players. I made a ton of mistakes out there tonight, too. I’ll learn from those. But as long as you’re trying to do your best and you’re prepared — and we were — I won’t hang my head walking out of here, that’s for sure.

Justin Williams:

We had the mindset that, even though we scored with a minute and a half left, we didn’t have to wait for it to get to overtime. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. I liked the process out there, I liked our work, and I felt we deserved better, but that’s hockey sometimes.

They made a great play and a great shot. Our goalie was there, but it was a perfect shot. That’s what power play guys do. They make plays out there. But at the same time, I’m happy with the way we played.

We’re planning on playing a lot more than 82 games this year. This was just one. One that didn't go our way, but there might be some throughout the year that we feel the other way, that we should have lost that we won. I feel that the process is right. Things have a way of evening out in the end.

Petr Mrazek:

I think we did a good job in the defensive zone. We were getting pucks out quickly and making it easy for the goalie and defensemen as well. It’s always a little bit tougher than when you’re facing a lot of shots, but you have to keep your focus and be ready when the next shot comes.

They did a great job. We played really well defensively. Three seconds left in the game and they get a power play, that’s a tough call but there’s nothing we can do about it. We need to come out strong again tomorrow like we did today to be successful there.

Game Notes

  • There were some odd occurrences tonight, and it should be said that there's always a danger of overreacting after game number one. If the Canes had played like this all season and were in solid shape, and this game happens in January, no one thinks anything of it. It will be of critical importance to bounce back tomorrow night in Columbus. The message was clear: the effort was there, even if the results weren’t.
  • The ovations in the pregame introductions were about as expected, but there was a significantly louder pop for two individuals: Rod Brind’Amour, who would have had a minutes-long standing ovation had there not been a clock counting down to faceoff, and Justin Williams, who got by far the loudest cheer of any player.
  • It made crystal clear Bill Peters’ biggest blind spot as Hurricanes coach: not knowing what Justin Williams brought to his locker room. Williams directed his teammates to give the fans a stick salute after they were all introduced, and all complied in short order. Williams, much in the same way as Brind’Amour years ago, gets it. He has a true bond with not only his teammates, but with the fans, and it’s one that can’t be faked. And this isn’t a shot at Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk or anyone else. This is his team.
  • The final tally on Greiss: 91 shots faced in his past two starts against Carolina, one goal. He’s well on his way to entering the Keith Kinkaid/Johan Hedberg pantheon of middling goaltenders who simply own the Canes for no logical reason.
  • .The Canes caught a quick flight to Columbus for tomorrow’s matchup in the Blue Jackets’ home opener.