WASHINGTON — The Carolina Hurricanes headed to the road for the first time this season to kick off a back-to-back and open the Capital One Arena for the 2019-2020 season on Saturday. The Canes won in overtime by a score of 3-2 in James Reimer’s first start in a Canes sweater. The Canes went down by a score of 0-2 before clawing their way back with two third period goals, then killing an overtime penalty before coming out on top.
Despite all of the bad blood in the preseason and the words between the teams in the media, the game was surprisingly tame. It was apparent early that the Canes were the more rested team. With the Caps finishing a back-to-back of their own, they let up multiple breakaways in the first period including one from Sebastian Aho as a Canes PK was ending.
The Canes did a good job of shutting down the Caps early chances and defending in transition. When the Caps entered the zone the defense stayed structured and forced shots from sharp angles.
The Caps were able to break the ice when Joel Edmundson turned the puck over at the goal line. Brendan Leipsic was able to grab the puck and feed it to Garnet Hathaway who had snuck behind the defense and buried it over Reimer’s shoulder.
The Caps were able to extend their lead midway through the second period on a strange goal from T.J. Oshie. The puck bounced off of Reimer and went straight into the air, but Oshie was able to gather the puck in the crease and score on Reimer who made the save but was too deep in the net allowing the puck to cross the goal line.
The Caps appeared to make it 3-0 late in the second. when Hathaway redirected a puck out front. However, a successful challenge by Rod Brind’Amour kept the game 2-0 after it was determined that Remier was interfered with by Leipsic.
Despite starting the final period on the penalty kill, the Hurricanes didn’t wait long to respond. Radko Gudas took an interference penalty two minutes into the period and Erik Haula converted on the ensuing power play. The goal was set up with crisp cross ice passing from Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov who found Haula out front unguarded.
Svechnikov to Hamilton to Svechnikov to Teravainen to Haula. Beautiful power play goal. pic.twitter.com/adAKhWOGid— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 6, 2019
The Canes continued their efforts and evened the game up eight minutes later with a highlight-reel goal from Jaccob Slavin who caught the puck out of the air put it down and beat Holtby stick side.
The teams both took home at least a point heading into overtime. The Caps wasted no time off of the opening faceoff to create chances. Their quick start led to Jordan Staal taking a hooking penalty to set up an always dangerous 4-on-3.
The Caps came inches from winning at the end of the powerplay when Alex Ovechkin partially misfired on a one-timer from his usual spot, but Remier kept the puck out of the net by divnig through the crease. The missed chance also led to some rare 4-on-4 overtime play for a couple of minutes before Jake Gardiner ended things on the Canes’ first shot of overtime, surprising Holtby with a quick shot to the short side.
Special Teams Success
Despite coach Rod Brind’Amour pleading for his players to stay out of the box, the Canes tempted fate with the Caps power play unit throughout the night. The Canes took five penalties in the first two periods. The penalty kill unit of Sebastian Aho and Teravainen picked up right where the left off last season. They were effective at killing penalties and continue to create chances even when down a man.
Carolina’s special teams were the only reason the Canes were in the game. They killed off every penalty against the most dangerous power play team in the league and converted one of their own power play chances, going 1-4 on the night. The first goal was massive in breaking the ice and showing that Holtby could be beaten.
Reimer looked good in his first outing for the Canes, stopping 26 out of the Caps 28 total shots including a highlight reel save in the third. Reimer is very comfortable playing the puck away from the net. However he does show some tendencies to over react on initial shots leaving a tougher follow-up shot. He also had multiple high soft rebounds come off of his shoulders, one of which led directly to the Caps second goal. That will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
They Said It
We weren’t playing a poor game, we had what I thought were a couple of bad breaks and the guys hung in there. All the penalty kills are big, we had six or seven penalties which is way too many against this team. If they score in the third that’s it its over, but we got some momentum from it.
[Goaltender Interference] was pretty clear for us, it was obvious that he was bumped into as the puck was on the way into the net. Of all the goalie interferences around the league that you aren’t sure about but for me that was automatic.
Chris, the ref, did a great job explaining the [Oshie] goal. He told me it was over the crossbar when he touched it but since it came down and he touched it again it was a goal. I thought it was in directly from the high stick but that’s one where he came over and educated me. Once I knew that I wasn’t going to challenge it
[Ovechkin’s shot] is the best shot in the league and you just try to get over there to see it come off of his stick and hope that it hits you. Tonight, we were lucky, and we got some big blocks and I managed to get a piece of a few. Its one of the best so its always fun facing him.
[On Penalties] Its not a recipe for success, you don’t want to give that PP that many chances. I think its proof of how hard we work. Guys were laying down blocking shots, it’s about sacrifice and having the character to lay it all on the line.
Honestly, I don’t understand the second goal still, even with the description that was given to me by the ref. He said that because he didn’t bat the puck in directly it wasn’t high sticking. Maybe there is a funny rule in there like that, but I trust him he knows his job, luckily it didn’t cost us. The last one I knew I was interfered with he came through and hit me and I was in my crease. I thought it was textbook goalie interference, but you never know what will get called.
[On the GWG] I thought originally that Nicklas Backstrom was fading towards Sebastian. Usually I would pass that, but since I saw that I decided to shoot.
We like to say that the third period is our best period. We are a resilient group and that showed in the first game as well. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day we got two points. Hopefully we can continue to be a third period team but we need to work on periods one and two as well.
[On his goal] I just tried to get it up the ice and I saw that we had good numbers so I jumped up on the rush. Marty threw one up the middle and I was able to get in my hand, get it down, and some how in the net.