At the end of the first period, it felt like it was going to another one of “those games”.
Despite getting grade-A scoring chances in the first period, the Carolina Hurricanes saw themselves down a goal on the road against one of the best goalies in hockey.
Making it even worse, the flailing Carolina power play not only couldn’t get much of anything going (outside of a strong 20-second push), they allowed a shorthanded goal against. A shorthanded goal against which was created off of Justin Williams mishandling a puck and Dougie Hamilton turning the puck over in mind-boggling fashion.
Through 20 minutes, it was 1-0 Ducks and the Hurricanes were outshooting them 13-6. It became clear that, again, the Canes would need to manufacture a goal to turn the tides and have a chance.
The difference between the first two games of the road trip and Friday’s game in Anaheim was that they were actually able to make it happen.
Clark Bishop's first career NHL goal and point. It wasn't pretty... but the Canes (and Bishop) will take it! Tie game in Anaheim. pic.twitter.com/ngVHtkf3Pe— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 8, 2018
After an official review and a goalie interference challenge, Clark Bishop had his first NHL point. It was a huge goal for his team and a prime example of what a guy like Bishop needs to do to stick around in the NHL long-term.
Since the day he was drafted by the Hurricanes in the fifth round back in 2014, the report on him has been that he’s a heart and soul type of player. He’s not a guy who is gifted with a high skillset, but he’s going to give you an honest effort. On his goal, he did just that. He kept his legs moving and drove to the net hard. He beat an excellent defenseman in Hampus Lindholm and drew a penalty in the process. When you do that kind of stuff consistently, you’ll get your bounces.
These are the goals that the Hurricanes will need every single night moving forward if they want to maximize their potential. They aren’t the Maple Leafs or the Lightning. They don’t have world-class scorers littered up and down their lineup. They have to work to get their goals, and that’s what Bishop did.
Just a few minutes later, Carolina needed a big kill. This was going to be the turning point of the game. If the Ducks score, they take back the momentum. If the Hurricanes keep them at bay, they have an opportunity to keep it.
Penalty = Killed
Momentum = Kept
The first three minutes of the third period decided the game.
Less than two minutes into the final frame, Sebastian Aho was able to get the puck out of his own end, eventually leading to an odd-man rush the other way. Brett Pesce knew that Aho was well-behind the play, so he jumped in and took a 4-iron to Teuvo Teravainen’s pass to beat Gibson and give Carolina its first lead of the road trip.
All of 61 seconds later, the Hurricanes were rewarded for not letting up after the second goal. Bishop’s long-range floater wasn’t handled cleanly by Gibson, and Justin Williams took advantage of the elite goalie’s mistake to cushion the lead.
Then, penalties happened.
Pro tip: when you’re up 3-1 on the road in the third period against one of the best goalies in all of hockey, it would be wise to not take two stick penalties in a matter of 44 seconds and give the home team an opportunity to get right back in the game.
After more than 75 seconds of a 5-on-3 chance for the Ducks, Teravainen exited the box, supported Jordan Martinook in the defensive zone, cleared the puck down ice, and the Hurricanes killed the remaining seconds of Calvin de Haan’s tripping penalty.
Tempers flared late after Aho netted an empty net goal but, by and large, the fireworks were over. The Hurricanes went into Honda Center and salvaged what had been an extremely disappointing road trip.
- Sebastian Aho had what he deemed his best game of the season on Friday. That might sound strange given that his empty net goal was the only thing that got him on the scoresheet but, for a player who cares so desperately about winning hockey games (more so than his box score), it’s just another example of his selflessness and high character. To boot, he might be right in his analysis. On top of of playing in his normal offensive role, he saw 2:30 of PK ice time and was on the ice for a vast majority of the 5-on-3 kill in the third period. He was awesome in all three zone and we were given a glimpse of what he can be. He has franchise center potential in that he might just end up being the first-line center, a top-unit power play forward, and a first-unit penalty killer. Who knows if that’ll happen, but there’s no reason to think that he can’t one day be that kind of rare and incalculably valuable player.
- Clark Bishop was the game’s first star after posting a game-high two points - the first two points in his NHL career.
- The Canes are still easing Brett Pesce back after missing so much time with the lower-body injury, but he was excellent in Anaheim. It might have been his best game of the season.
- Petr Mrazek had a quiet night, facing just 19 shots, but he had another great start. The lone goal was a SHG off of Jakob Silfverberg in front during an egregious Carolina power play. While the team in front of him had a forgettable road trip, Mrazek put together two strong outings, allowing just two goals on 53 shots against the Kings and Ducks.
- The power play still isn’t where it needs to be. It’s not even close. Outside of a couple of pushes, they just looked inept. Surprisingly, using Phil Di Giuseppe on the power play as a fill-in for Staal didn’t make things much better. Martin Necas (17 points in his last 17 games) and Janne Kuokkanen (26 points in 25 games this season) are dominating in the AHL and have both been electric on the man advantage. One would wonder when the Canes will finally decide to give them a look. Friday was not the time for that, though. Saku Maenalanen made more sense to join the team on short notice, and the 24-year-old Finnish winger had a pretty impressive debut despite not seeing much of any ice time.
- Warren Foegele just can’t buy a goal right now, and I don’t know what you do to get his confidence up. He is still playing hard and doing what he is supposed to do, but a 21-game point drought is just impossible to ignore. Rod Brind’Amour loves him, but maybe a stint in Charlotte could help him. He’s not a great offensive player, but he’s not 21-straight-games-without-a-point bad.
- Justin Williams netted a big goal in the third period, but he had a brutal game. His inability to handle a puck led to Anaheim’s lone goal and he took two stick penalties, including an offensive zone tripping penalty.
Saturday, the Hurricanes reassigned Maenalanen and Alex Nedeljkovic to the Charlotte Checkers. The release from the team is below.
CANES REASSIGN MAENALANEN AND NEDELJKOVIC TO CHARLOTTE
Maenalanen made NHL debut on Friday at Anaheim
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned forward Saku Maenalanen and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Maenalanen, 24, made his NHL debut on Friday at Anaheim. The 6’4”, 207-pound forward has registered 11 points (4g, 7a) in 23 games with the Checkers this season and leads Charlotte in shorthanded goals (2) and ranks tied for eighth on the team in assists. Maenalanen made his AHL debut on Oct. 5 at Rochester and earned his first AHL point with a shorthanded goal on Oct. 12 at Utica. The Kemi, Finland, native was drafted by Nashville in the fifth round, 125th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft and signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent on May 18, 2018. Maenalanen registered 46 points (17g, 29a) in 59 games with Oulun Karpat of the SM-Liiga (Finland) last season, ranking tied for second on the team in assists and fourth in goals and points. Maenalanen represented Finland at the 2014 World Junior Championship and 2018 World Championship.
Nedeljkovic, 22, has appeared in 18 games with Charlotte this season, posting a 12-4-1 record with a 2.94 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. The 6’0”, 189-pound netminder leads the AHL in wins (12) this season after finishing tied for first in the league in wins last season (31). Nedeljkovic has played 92 AHL games for the Checkers since 2016, registering a 51-30-5 record with six shutouts, a 2.85 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage. The Parma, Ohio, native made his NHL/Hurricanes debut on Jan. 17, 2017, stopping all 17 shots faced in a relief appearance at Columbus. He was drafted by Carolina in the second round, 37th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft.