For the first time since the opening four games of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes have won four straight games, but they certainly did their best to leave that streak in question for long stretches on Sunday.
Despite surrendering four goals to the Ottawa Senators in a wild second period, the Hurricanes came through on the strength of a Justin Williams power play goal and did tally their fourth win on the spin, taking a 5-4 victory at Canadian Tire Centre to move to 3–0 in the new year.
The game started well for the visitors, who earned a power play less than a minute in when Zack Smith took a seat for tripping Sebastian Aho. Justin Faulk opened the scoring by wiring home a one-timer from a Teuvo Teravainen pass to give the Canes the lead 1:12 in. Brock McGinn then doubled the lead by converting a shorthanded breakaway through Marcus Hogberg’s five-hole three minutes later with Victor Rask in the box for slashing.
The Hurricanes became the first team to score both a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the first five minutes of a game since December 27, 2008, when the New Jersey Devils pulled the trick against the New York Rangers, and accomplished the feat for the first time in franchise history.
The Canes had the momentum throughout the first period, but the Senators turned on the afterburners in a 19-shot second period that left the visitors’ heads spinning and the home crowd jubilant.
It started early, with a Matt Duchene one-timer off a goal-line pass from Bobby Ryan 2:32 into the period. Jaccob Slavin restored the two-goal lead four minutes later off a pinpoint cross-crease pass from Victor Rask (yes, this is a thing that actually happened), and ten minutes after that Ryan Dzingel and Dougie Hamilton traded goals, the latter of which saw Senators coach Guy Boucher lift Hogberg in favor of Anders Nilsson.
The goaltending switch paid off handsomely. With all the momentum on their side, they peppered Petr Mrazek with seven shots in the final five minutes of the period. And with under a minute to go, Rudolfs Balcers and Jean-Gabriel Pageau struck for two goals in eight seconds to knot the game at 4 after two periods.
The first goal was, to no one’s surprise given that this is the Hurricanes, Balcers’ first career NHL goal, and Pageau scored in his return to NHL action after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon in the preseason. Pageau’s goal was a real backbreaker for Petr Mrazek, who had played generally well until coming unglued late in the second period, and it was a mild surprise to see him return for the third.
The Canes, though, did everything they could to give their goaltender an easy ride home in the final 20 minutes, only allowing two shots in the final period and none after 11:30 to go. A Bobby Ryan tripping penalty proved decisive 6:30 into the period, and Williams executed a perfect screen to redirect a Teravainen point shot from the top of the left circle and score the game winner.
The three goals scored by Hurricanes defensemen marked the first time three Carolina blueliners had found the net in the same game since Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen and Anton Babchuk scored on March 21, 2009 against the Washington Capitals — in a game where now-coach Rod Brind’Amour scored the other Canes goal.
Mrazek made 27 saves on 31 shots to earn his second straight victory. The Hurricanes’ road trip continues as they make their first trip to Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. since February 28, 2015, where they will face the New York Islanders on Tuesday.