The Carolina Hurricanes came into Colorado and defeated the Avalanche on Monday night by a score of 3-0. The Canes had huge contributions from Andrei Svechnikov and Petr Mrazek. Svechnikov had the assist on the game-winning-goal and went on to score both of the Canes’ other goals. Mrazek led the team emotionally with a 38 save shutout.
The game had a playoff atmosphere with both teams heavily vying for playoff positions. The Canes came in and beat a fast, skilled team that they struggled with early in the season to take back the third position in the Metropolitan Division. The Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the New York Islanders 2-0 meaning that the Hurricanes remained in a playoff position regardless of the game’s outcome, but they leapfrogged the idle Pittsburgh Penguins back into third place in the Metro.
Both teams came out with a ton of intensity to start the game. The Canes did a great job of killing two early penalties against a lethal powerplay that is tied for seventh in the league with a 22.7% success rate. The penalty kill forced passes and didn’t let the Avalanche settle in the zone.
Mrazek made his impact felt on the game immediately. From the opening shot of the game, he really appeared to be in the zone and anticipating shots and positioning well. He was efficient in his moves and his positioning to close down angles and shutdown the Avs. His play allowed the Canes to snag the momentum after multiple penalty kills and sustained pressure in the defensive zone.
With Mrazek this is hugely important. He is aggressive in his positioning and when he is off, he overplays shots leaving himself vulnerable to late passes and last second dekes. But hen he is in the zone, as he was Monday, he frustrates players with his quick movements and efficient rebound control. This quick movement also gets in the head of shooters and will force quick shots on unsettled pucks.
The Hurricanes did appear to break through with eight minutes left in the first period when Jordan Staal beat Philipp Grubauer with a rebound from a Svechnikov shot. However, the goal was waived off controversially after it was deemed that Svechnikov made incidental contact with Grubauer. It is up to debate whether or not he was pushed by a defender, but the officials didn’t see it that way and the game remained scoreless.
The second saw more high-intensity play from the Canes. Early in the period it seemed to pay off with the Hurricanes first power play of the game after Brock McGinn was tripped in the defensive zone. While the Canes did not convert on the power play, they had a good effort controlling the puck in the offensive zone for most of the penalty. The Canes generated most of the shots and chances in the second and saw multiple near misses including a Sebastian Aho wraparound chance. They claimed the shot advantage 14-11 to bring the total for the game 23-25.
The Canes finally converted for their first (legal) goal midway through the second period. Svechnikov was taken down illegally in the neutral zone but was able to get the puck forward to Justin Williams who fed Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton broke into the zone on a two-on-one, looked over to pass with his eyes, but lasered in a goal top shelf to let Nino Niederreiter know that he’s not the only one that can pick corners. This was Hamilton’s 10th goal and 20th point in his last 30 games and now leads all NHL defensemen in goals in 2019. This was also his 12th goal of the season at even strength which is a new personal best for a single season.
The Hurricanes struggled out of the gates to start the third. The Canes were getting handled in every zone and looked to be hanging on for dear life, but Mrazek continued to bail the team out time and time again with spectacular saves.
After a possible missed high-sticking call on the Avalanche and a media time out, the Canes won a defensive-zone face off which led to their second goal on a ridiculous play from Teuvo Teravainen and Svechnikov. Svechnikov received a laser beam of a pass in the slot settled and dangled before roofing a shot back-hand to make it 2-0.
See the filth from ice level pic.twitter.com/QwYJD9Isci— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) March 12, 2019
The rookie had a massive impact on the game. He stepped into the top-six after Micheal Ferland was injured in the game in Boston. Against the Avalanche he looked like he was fully capable of handling increased minutes and excelling in a larger role. He was involved in all of the Canes goals, with the first two starting in the defensive zone. His final marker came with an empty net showing that Rod Brind’Amour has the confidence to play him in all situations, including with the game on the line.
There was a piece of bad news in the game. On that missed high-stick call, Calvin de Haan was injured and did not return to the game, ruled out with an upper-body injury.
The Hurricanes recorded their first-ever win against the Avalanche on the road in regulation; they had won twice in overtime in Denver, but the last time they saw a regulation win the Hartford Whalers defeated the Quebec Nordiques in 1994.
With the win tonight, the Hurricanes moved back into third place in the division with the tie break over the Penguins. The Canes now sit four points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild card position. Their next game comes Friday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets, with the standings certain to look different after three days off.