After falling behind 3-0 in each of their last two games, the Carolina Hurricanes were desperate for a good start. On Saturday night, their top player helped provide exactly that.
Sebastian Aho slammed home a power play goal early in the first period for his 13th goal of the season. Aho later added an assist, his ninth, as the Canes defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, bouncing back from a disappointing shutout the night before at home.
Jaccob Slavin recorded a goal and an assist, Jordan Martinook scored his first goal of the year, and Clark Bishop got his first point of the season. James Reimer made 36 saves, won his third straight start, and improved to 5-4-0 on the season.
Former Hurricane Curtis McElhinney made 21 saves and fell to 3-2-2.
Aho’s early powerplay goal helped to address what had been a growing problem for the Canes — a sputtering power play that went 1-for-12 over their past four games. The goal was as humble as it gets; Aho plowed the loose puck over the line after it had trickled past McElhinney and nearly settled along the goal line. For his trouble, the Cane center ended up in the back of the net too:
Seb scores again... Shocker pic.twitter.com/f7Jogwdla0— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 1, 2019
At 7:30 of the first, Jordan Martinook extended the lead. Slavin found Bishop with a pretty stretch pass, and Bishop slid a centering pass to Martinook, who was in alone against McElhinney. A sharp wrister beat the former Canes goalie high to the glove side for the alternate captain’s first tally of the season.
Marty's first goal of the season. The #CaneTrain is rolling. pic.twitter.com/iFzWmyEwSu— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 1, 2019
The Canes’ third goal involved a bit of a role reversal. Aho found himself covering the point for Slavin, as Slavin had pinched deep in the Lightning zone. From the point, Aho sent a shot toward the net that Slavin tipped past McElhinney.
Aho from the point, Slavin with the net-front re-direct.— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 1, 2019
Exactly like we drew it up pic.twitter.com/QKyaqmyFbN
Asked about the first period goals, captain Jordan Staal summed up their importance: “The boys were ready to go right off the start. Getting three goals...we’ve been on the other side of that for a few games now, and we did a great job of getting a good start. [Reimer] did a good job of keeping the puck out, and we got two points.”
Following the goals, it was the James Reimer show. The 31-year-old vet held the Lightning off the scoreboard during the first two periods with several highlight-reel saves:
This SAVE pic.twitter.com/cBvOQygrKd— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 1, 2019
The dam finally gave way in the third as the Lightning outshot the Hurricanes 16-2 in the final frame. Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning, but the Canes held off a final charge from the Lightning, who lost their third straight.
The Canes travel to Boston to face the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins on Tuesday night.