Looking to close out a trying 2018 calendar year with a win on home ice against the Metropolitan Division rival Philadelphia Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes needed to find an answer for rookie goalie Carter Hart, who has gotten off to a great start in the orange and black.
With a new assortment of forward lines, the Canes put together one of their better games in recent memory en route to a 3-1 win on home ice.
The Hurricanes were dictating the pace of play early on. Their best chance came when Andrei Svechnikov found Victor Rask for an excellent scoring chance in the slot, but Rask whiffed on the shot and the puck slid harmlessly into the neutral zone.
Just over half way through the period, it was a surprising pin-point snipe from Lucas Wallmark at the top of the circles that put the Canes in front 1-0.
Back-and-forth play through the rest of the first period eventually gave way to the first power play of the evening when Svechnikov used his stick in an unbecoming manner.
After a flurry of chances early, the Canes’ penalty kill shut the door late and kept forcing the Flyers to go retrieve the puck out of their own end. The Canes took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
At the outset of the second period, the Canes jumped right back all over the road team and Jordan Martinook scored all of 6 seconds into the frame. It was the quickest goal from the start of a period in franchise history and the lead was bumped to 2-0.
Martinook’s best friend Andrei Svechnikov followed it up with a goal of his own at the 2:19 mark of the period. The goal chased rookie Carter Hart out of the game and, out of nowhere, the Hurricanes were having no problem putting the puck in the net.
With a 3-0 lead, Carolina started to give up some real high-quality chances, but Curtis McElhinney came up with a plethora of huge stops when the team in front of him desperately needed them.
Things got a bit chippier down the stretch of the middle frame. Travis Konecny and Brock McGinn both turned up the physicality a notch, as those two players tend to do, but things remained relatively level-headed going into the second intermission. The Hurricanes entered the final 20 minutes with a 3-0 lead.
Under three minutes into the third period, the Flyers got some luck to go their way when Dougie Hamilton skated into a couple of teammates and lost his stick in the process. Philly then quickly pushed the puck into the offensive zone and were able to take advantage of the shorthanded (short-sticked) Canes. Jakub Voracek roofed a cross-crease pass from Wayne Simmonds up and over a sprawling McElhinney to end the shutout bid.
That would be all that Philly would get, though. The Canes finished on the right side of a 3-1 score and ended 2018 on a high note.
[On getting that important first goal] Of course, it was a big goal for us tonight. It was fun to see the puck go in there. To score that first goal, it was big for us.
[On Brett Pesce’s pass in the neutral zone] Oh yeah, it was a good pass from Pesce there. I came in with some speed and tried to use the (defenseman) for a screen, and like I said, it was nice to see the puck go in there. It was a great play by Pesce.
[On the importance of closing 2018 with a win] It was a big win for us. Hopefully, we can build on that. I think we played really well, overall, tonight.
[On the importance of the win] It’s huge. We’re trying to get on a run here and make some thing happen in the second half, so it was a good start for us,
[On the confidence of the team] Yeah, obviously, I think there’s some frustration in the goal-scoring department and on the power play. Those guys are certainly trying out there. I think a game like tonight can get us going in the right direction.
[On Martinook’s second-period goal that made it 2-0] Yeah, that’s probably the goal of the game. At the start of the period, with four seconds left on the power play, they certainly weren’t expecting that. We, maybe, got them sleeping a little bit, so that was huge.
[On Wallmark’s goal] That was a great shot. No one expected that. He doesn’t usually rip ‘em like that. So, that was great. And it was a great play by (Pesce) in the neutral zone. Then, obviously, it was a perfect shot, bar-down.
[On how the game felt] I mean, that game didn’t feel much different than the other games we’ve played all year. A couple (of shots) went in and we were ahead. It was a little different of a game. We’ve had good goaltending and we did tonight. We just got a couple of goals.
[On how he handles the team when times get tough] Well it’s a learning experience for me, too. The difference is, I’ve been there as a player. So I know what they’re thinking. I just try to keep it real. Even when you’re losing, you have to tell them that they’re doing some good things. I think, as long as they keep believing in themselves, you never know what can happen. Tonight was just nice to see that we got a couple (goals) and we didn’t have to chase the game.