You could say the Carolina Hurricanes were lucky to add their insurance goal from Brock McGinn against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. After all, how many dump-ins result in almost-immediate goals?
But while the bounces were there, this wasn’t just the hockey gods smiling down on Raleigh. Both McGinn and Justin Williams were on the same page to execute what was a very impressive audible play.
A neutral zone faceoff win sends the puck back to Haydn Fleury, who fires a pass off the stick of Victor Rask to get the puck deep.
Carolina usually likes to possess the puck through the neutral zone, but it’s so clogged in this scenario after a faceoff win that a dump is the only real option. Fleury has to basically shoot the puck at Rask to allow him to simply deflect it far enough down the ice, otherwise it becomes an easy turnover for the Habs.
Williams beats Joe Morrow to the puck and finds himself with limited options.
This is why being quick to chase down the puck matters — Morrow has to turn himself around, giving Williams the head start needed to get there first. Any delay from Williams would see Morrow with the chance to wrap the puck around the boards and back up ice.
Notice too how Williams picks his head up at the hashmarks to see McGinn streaking towards the net; some forwards might have tunnel vision here and wait to get the puck before looking around. Williams’ preemptive peek gives him the chance to make this highlight-reel play.
A slick pass from Williams between both his and Morrow’s legs finds McGinn out front, and Carey Price has no chance.
McGinn really comes out of nowhere here. Price surely sees him coming, but never expects the puck to get to him, at least not that quickly. And it’s a strong finish from McGinn — he doesn’t get all of the shot, but does enough to chip it over Price’s arm and pad.
But look at the whole play again; watch McGinn go in slowly to serve as a passing option up the boards for Williams before cutting hard towards the slot when he recognized that no Canadiens defenseman would be there.
The timing of Williams’ look towards McGinn matters too; it looks as though he almost cues McGinn to drive the net. Regardless, it’s an impressive display of chemistry between the two teammates, and one the Canes may look to build on going forward.