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About Last Night: Homecoming

Despite Hurricanes’ loss, Hamilton shines in his return to Calgary.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Late-game heroics from their best players earned the Carolina Hurricanes a point against the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames late last night, but yet again, the Canes put together an effort that was worthy of a better outcome.

The game was great. From start to finish, it was just a very fun game to watch, and if you had any additional investment in Tuesday’s inter-conference showdown due to the story lines, it just emphasized every shift including Sebastian Aho’s game-tying goal with just 44 seconds left in regulation time.

Old Stomping Grounds

Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland played their first game against their former team last night but, unfortunately, one player’s night ended early.

In the second period, Ferland left the game due to his persisting upper-body concern and did not return. His status for tonight’s game in Vancouver is still unknown, but we’re getting into some very concerning territory with the big, physical goal-scorer.

Ferland has already missed eight games this season due to a concussion and an upper-body injury relating to his back. Obviously, when you’re talking about those two areas, it’s pretty worrisome with regards to his future, especially given that he’s looking to cash in on his well-deserved career pay day this summer.

Hamilton’s night was much different than Ferland’s.

The big blueliner had what I thought was one of his best games as a Hurricane. His 22:58 of ice time ranked second among Carolina defensemen, behind only Jaccob Slavin, and his first-period goal came at a good time for the Canes to tie things up and regain their footing.

From there, Hamilton played some of his best two-way hockey of the season and was on the ice for the big game-tying goal late in the third period.

There’s a lot to like with Hamilton’s game as of late. I’ve been harking on his criminal lack of ice time all season, but I think we’re at the point where he truly needs to be given a chance to play those big minutes every single night. He’s not going to be the player that he needs to be unless he’s given the opportunities to make an impact, like he did last night.

Petr Mragic

Petr Mrazek’s stellar performance against the Flames will likely be overlooked, to an extent, but it shouldn’t be. He was very, very good.

You can make a very good case that Calgary’s first goal shouldn’t have counted. Former noted Jeff Skinner line mate Derek Ryan appeared to purposefully knock Mrazek’s stick out of position, and just a second later, the puck got centered and found the back of the net.

Tough break.

From there, Mrazek made a couple of highlight reel saves.

Three goals on 25 shots doesn’t sound too impressive, but if you watched that game, I think you can say with certainty that Mrazek put together a great start. The pending unrestricted free agent has been making a strong case for being re-signed by the Canes.

Photo Finnish

An odd bounce aided Carolina’s comeback bid, but hey, puck don’t lie.

The $27 million man Teuvo Teravainen got the puck on his stick after Justin Williams established possession in the offensive zone, and with a sixth attacker on the ice, he centered the puck to Sebastian Aho, who didn’t miss. It was Aho’s 22nd goal of the season.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of this team’s future is who will be leading that charge. It seems like every time this team needs someone to come through in a big situation, the two Finns are right in the middle of it.

Even after the game, still just a few minutes removed from tying the game in dramatic fashion, Aho and Teravainen were upset. They hate losing, and you need players like that in order to be a successful team.

Williams has said on multiple occasions this season that Aho is both the best and hardest-working player on the team. That’s an important combination that the Canes maybe haven’t had in recent years. Aho had a rough mental error early in overtime that led to Calgary’s game-winner, but more so than anyone else on that team, you can trust that he’s going to go out of his way to not repeat that mistake. Methinks he’s earned the benefit of the doubt there.

While the loss stings, there was way more to like than to not like from last night’s game. The full 60-minute effort was there, they were the better team, they refused to let that game end at 2-1, they got a strong goalie performance, and their best players were their best players when they needed it most.

Wednesday’s game in Vancouver will be one of the most important games of the season for Carolina, a team that desperately needs to bounce back and hasn’t won a game in that building since the 90’s.

We’ll see if this young group can pull it together and finish with a 2-0-1 road trip.