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About Last Night: The Power Play Does Exist

Despite many skeptics, the elusive power play goal does in fact exist, and it actually won the Hurricanes a game last night.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 season has seen many ups and downs for the Carolina Hurricanes but the one constant for the team has been their anemic power play. Game after game the team has struggled to not only score, but simply to create zone entries and scoring chances with the man advantage. Last night against the Ottawa Senators appeared to be a game where more of the same would continue on.

The Canes’ first opportunity with the power play was just as bad as always and it led to the team being down going in to the third period. But that's when magic struck. The Canes scored twice with their power play and tallied two more even strength goals during the third period, resulting in the Canes pulling off their first win this season after trailing entering the third period. It could not have come at a better time as Carolina tries to stay close to the playoff line.

The Good - The Comeback

After their defeating 3-2 loss on Sunday against New Jersey the Hurricanes had to find a way to beat the Senators. It didn’t matter how they did it, they just had to get two points. Despite the need for desperation, the Hurricanes came out flat playing a pretty horrible first two periods.

Going in to the third period Rod Brind’ Amour changed up his line combination and it paid off big time. Dougie Hamilton found Micheal Ferland just sixteen seconds in to the third period and the comeback was on.

Hamilton is one of the hottest defensemen in the NHL today and he is finally looking like the guy the Canes had hoped to get in the trade from Calgary. He deserves more and more ice time if he can keep contributing the way is has offensively.

The Canes would add two power play goals to go up 3-1 before Teuvo Teravainen scored his second of the contest. This goal is much more about Ferland than Teravainen, but it still took a good Finnish (ed. note: ughhhhh) to get the job done.

Whether it was shaking up the lines, something said in the locker room during the second intermission, or just the fate of their season hanging in the balance, something changed for the Hurricanes in the third period. They came out ready to play and ready to win which is the same team that showed up on the first three games of this road trip.

The Bad - The First 40

No urgency, taking shifts off, laziness, uninterested, etc. All of these terms could be used to describe the Hurricanes’ first 40 minutes of play last night. They did not seem like a team desperate to stay alive in the playoff race. They did not look like they were playing the worst team in the NHL. They looked outright bad.

Mark Stone scored in the first period for the Senators because he outworked three Hurricanes players near the net. Brett Pesce gets tied up playing a different man because Greg McKegg didn’t help out and that allowed Stone to sneak in behind Pesce.

There’s no excuse for two guys to have that much space that close to your goaltender when you are desperate for wins.

The Senators almost got a second goal but after review it was deemed Jean-Gabriel Pageau kicked the puck in. This was another situation where Senators players had far too much time and space in the Hurricanes zone. Curtis McElhinney had already made multiple saves on this series and it ended up with a puck in the back of the net. For the Canes sake they got exceptionally lucky because their play at that point warranted being scored on.

You simply cannot come out playing as flat as the Hurricanes did against Ottawa and expect to win. They did the same thing against New Jersey and it cost them two points. The playoff race should be motivation enough for these guys to start the game on time but over the last two games it has not seemed that way.

The Great - The Power Play

It feels very weird putting the power play in this section but it directly won the Canes the game last night. Entering last night the Hurricanes had not scored a 5 on 3 goal all season. That changed with one snap of Justin Williams’ stick.

When the Canes desperately needed a power play goal it only seems fitting that their Captain would provide them with it. The goal actually almost never happened as Micheal Ferland nearly turned the puck over before finding Williams in the slot. The extra effort by Ferland to find Williams is one of the main reasons Carolina won this game.

After the 5 on 3 goal the Hurricanes were left with more than three minutes of 5 on 4 time after Cody Ceci was called for a high stick. Carolina would convert during this time with the man advantage thanks to the combination of Williams, Nino Niederreiter, and Teravainen.

This goal is all about Nino’s ability to coral the puck and quickly get it to a charging Teravainen in the slot. Turbo has a nice finish on the play but the setup is what generated the goal.

The one constant on both goals is good passing was involved. One of the largest issues plaguing the Hurricanes’ power play this year has been their inability to make crisp passes. The elite power play units in the NHL pass the puck quickly and cleanly and the Hurricanes have not been able to do that for a long time.

While one game surely doesn’t fix all the things wrong with Carolina’s man advantage play, it may give them some confidence heading in to the weekend. Don’t be surprised for them to come up with one or two power play goals in the back to backs this weekend as they ride a little momentum.

Moral of the Story

It’s not often we get to say the power play won the Carolina Hurricanes a game. So enjoy it, because we may all have gone grey by the time it happens again.

The team broke two significant curses on the season last night: getting their first 5 on 3 goal and getting their first win after trailing entering the third period. Both are significant and should be used as confidence builders going down the stretch. By no means is their power play fixed but it should have some confidence going in to the weekend which could be huge.

Coming back to Raleigh with eight of a possible ten points seems like a sure fire win for the Canes on this road trip. They had to win that game last night and they found a way to do so.

While the Canes will be hoping for a game seven repeat on Friday night, they actually need the Oilers to do them a favor in Pittsburgh tonight. Should Edmonton come through, it will set up an opportunity for the Canes to jump in to a playoff spot on Friday night in front of a large PNC Arena crowd.