The Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up the month of November with a 3-2 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, as a three-goal first period and great performance from netminder James Reimer pushed the Canes to a win.
Sebastian Aho, Jordan Martinook and Jaccob Slavin all tallied goals in the opening frame, as Reimer and the Canes held on late to walk out of Tampa with a gutsy 3-2 win.
Quite the backup goalie
Reimer was absolutely phenomenal in net for the Canes Saturday night, shutting down chance after chance for the Lightning. Reimer finished the game with 36 saves, and completely shut the door on Tampa Bay through the opening two periods.
The Lightning finally broke through on Reimer in the third period, netting two goals, but it took a deflection off a Canes’ defenseman’s stick and an absolutely perfect wrister from Tyler Johnson to get it done. Still, Reimer came up strong late when it really mattered, making a couple of great stops on a Tampa Bay rush to tie the game after the Lightning had pulled their goalie.
It was just the routine for Reimer Saturday night, though he did make the routine saves consistently. The Canes netminder made a couple of spectacular saves throughout the night, including an acrobatic first-period denial of Yanni Gourde.
James Reimer. WOW. pic.twitter.com/FNwPEmXy7X— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 1, 2019
For Reimer, the win against Tampa Saturday moved him to 5-4-0 on the season, and he has won three straight starts. He’s been an incredibly solid backup goaltender for the Hurricanes this year, and that continued against the Lightning.
Reimer’s GAA is at 2.64 through 10 games, good for 17th best in the league and well above the league average of 2.85. His save percentage has him in a similar spot; his .915 save percentage is tied for 19th in the NHL, and again is well above the league average of .909.
More importantly for the Hurricanes, is the fact that Reimer is showing up for the toughest games. Of his last three starts, all three have come on the road and wins against Tampa Bay and Detroit came on the back end of a back-to-back.
Having a goaltender that you can trust to give you a great outing to finish off a back-to-back is a huge luxury for any team, and it looks like the Canes have that in Reimer. If the veteran netminder can continue to play like he has been, there’s a good chance he could see his workload elevated a bit.
It’s common sense to say that the more early goals a team scores, and early leads a team gets, the more success that team is going to have. That’s been abundantly true for the Hurricanes this year. It was evident Saturday night as well, with the Canes grabbing a 3-0 lead after the first period and finishing the night off with a win.
It was a great change of pace for Carolina, which had faced 3-0 deficits in its previous two games. Both of those outings resulted in losses, and that’s been somewhat the story of the Canes season. When Carolina is able to score early and grab a lead, the results have been very good.
The Canes are 12-2 this season when scoring the first goal, which included Saturday night thanks to an early tip-in effort from Sebastian Aho.
Andrei Svechnikov's shot leaks through McElhinney, and Sebastian Aho got to the loose puck first. A PPG gives the Canes a 1-0 lead. Dougie Hamilton with the secondary assist. 13th goal of the year for Aho. pic.twitter.com/t8GbQwxR5P— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 1, 2019
By contrast, Carolina is just 4-8-1 this year when its opponent nets the first goal of the game. The Canes have been good at mounting comebacks, but the best recipe for a win is still not to need one.
Carolina took a three-goal lead into the first intermission against the Lightning, which has been another key for the Canes this year. When the Hurricanes are winning after the opening period, they’re 9-1 on the season. When the score is tied up, or the Canes are losing after one, Carolina is just 7-9-1.
Again, it’s completely obvious that scoring goals early and often will help you win games. It holds true for every hockey team, but the last three games for the Hurricanes have been the perfect example. Saturday night, the Canes were on the right end of the equation, and it paid off with two points against a good team.
It hasn’t been the start to the season that Canes’ forward Jordan Martinook would have hoped for. Martinook has missed a huge chunk of the start of the year with a core muscle injury. He played in the Canes’ first four games, before missing the next 15.
However, Martinook is back on the ice, and Saturday night he found the back of the net for the first time this year. Martinook slotted home a beautiful one-timer past former teammate Curtis McElhinney in the first period.
Hurricanes go up 2-0 in Tampa. Great play from Jaccob Slavin to Clark Bishop to Jordan Martinook. Martinook has his 1st goal of the season. Bishop has his 1st point. pic.twitter.com/hHxn7lWcGn— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 1, 2019
Martinook was a big piece for the Canes last year, finishing with 15 goals and 10 assists. His ice time is still down a bit as he recovers from a serious injury, but it had to be a great feeling for both him and the Hurricanes to see him tally Saturday night.
The month of November came to an end for the Canes Saturday night, as Carolina finished up the month 8-7. It was a month that featured both a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak, as the Hurricanes played up and down throughout the last 30 days.
We’re two months into the season now, and the Hurricanes currently hold the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina is on pace for 100 points, and there’s still a ton of hockey left to be played.
The Canes will open up their December Tuesday night in Boston, as they face off with the 18-3-5 Bruins.