The Hurricanes went into Calgary Saturday afternoon, and took down a Flames team that had won seven straight 4-0. It was a good all-around win for Carolina, which featured a shutout from James Reimer and two shorthanded goals from Warren Foegele.
A penalty kill so good it looks like a power play
It’s not often a team can rack up six penalties, including back-to-back-to-back penalties in the third period, and still post a shutout. But, that’s exactly what the Canes did to beat a Flames team that came into the night playing its best hockey of the year Saturday.
Carolina’s penalty kill has been a serious point of strength for the team. With their five penalty kills Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes have a kill percentage of 86.6 percent this season. That number is the second best in the entire NHL, with the San Jose Sharks holding the top spot just over a percentage point better than the Canes.
The kill has been good all season for Carolina, but it looks to be getting even better as things move along. Over the Canes’ last six games, Carolina has given up just one power-play goal in 23 opportunities (that’s a kill rate of 95.7 percent).
In fact, the Canes have scored more shorthanded goals during that span than their opponents have scored power-play goals. Warren Foegele accomplished that feat twice against Calgary Saturday, extending the Canes’ lead to 3-0 on a penalty kill in the third period. He added a shorthanded empty netter later in the third. Foegele’s second goal was the seventh shorthanded tally of the season for the Hurricanes, the most in the NHL.
Our PK is so good we score on it pic.twitter.com/p9XBzFO0ng— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 14, 2019
The Canes have been the seventh-most penalized team in the NHL this season, and have had five or more penalties in each of the last three games. That’s obviously not a recipe for success, but when a penalty kill unit as is good as the Canes, it’s something that a team can survive.
Reimer wins on the road, again
The most important penalty killer is the one in the net, and James Reimer was brilliant yet again for the Hurricanes. Reimer posted his second shutout of the year, stopping all 32 Calgary shots he faced.
The way Reimer has played as a backup goalie this year has been an absolute luxury for the Hurricanes. He has a GAA of 2.41 and a save percentage of .924. Both of those numbers are 13th-best in the entire NHL, and he has done it with the inconsistency of a backup netminder’s schedule. He’s played in 13 games for Carolina this season, and has started 12.
What makes the way Reimer has played even more impressive is the fact that he has done it almost exclusively on the road. Of his 12 starts, 10 of them have come away from PNC Arena, including all of his last seven. He’s given the Canes a reliable option to put in net in some of their tougher games, and he’s helped get Carolina to the place they are at now. He’s won five of his last six starts, and he’s continuing to prove himself as a valuable member of this Canes team.
The makings of a great road trip
The win in Calgary marked the third game of a five-game road trip that is taking the Hurricanes back-and-forth across western Canada and then down to Colorado. In terms of travel and fatigue, this five-game, 10-day trip is probably the hardest stretch on the Hurricanes’ entire schedule.
The tough stretch has started out as well as the Hurricanes could have possibly imagined. Carolina has five points through the first three games, with an overtime loss after a scoreless 60 minutes in Vancouver serving as the only point the Canes have dropped so far.
Saturday afternoon, Carolina went to Calgary and dominated a red-hot Flames team to guarantee that the road trip finished at least .500. Great teams can play well through tough stretches, and that’s what the Canes are doing right now.
It was a good trip to Calgary for Carolina, and the Hurricanes will now turn their sites to Winnipeg for a battle with the Jets on Tuesday. Things are clicking for the Canes right now, and it has resulted in a 4-1-1 record to open up the month of December.