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Hurricanes down Flyers 5-2, move closer to playoff spot

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The Hurricanes hammered out a badly needed win and eliminated the Flyers from playoff contention in the process.

Jamie Kellner

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes found a way to grind out a 5-2 win Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena against a lesser team in what was certainly not their best system game. A couple of tough penalties and defensive breakdowns allowed for the Philadelphia Flyers to stick around in a matchup that the Hurricanes should have easily won.

The Hurricanes looked like they were gripping the stick a bit too tight early in the contest. That much was apparent when a defensive breakdown early led to a breakaway in on Petr Mrazek, who made a much needed save to keep the game tied at zero in just the second shot he saw of the night.

Just as it was really feeling like Carolina needed to get on the board, Andrei Svechnikov streaked into the zone and tried to snap a pass across the top of the circles to a pinching Justin Faulk. But James van Riemsdyk made a great play with his stick to kick it out to Corban Knight, who headed up ice generating a 2-on-1 chance. He carried the puck into the offensive zone and centered a pass that eluded the defending Jaccob Slavin to Claude Giroux for a one-timer chance. This time, Mrazek wasn’t able to bail out his teammates and the Flyers took a 1-0 lead.

But the Canes soon responded.

The Canes earned a power play just 20 seconds later when Radko Gudas was dinged for holding, and Teuvo Teravainen was able to take advantage of the chaos in front of the net on a third chance opportunity as he snuck one by Cam Talbot. And they weren’t done. Thirty seconds later, Slavin carried the puck into the zone on his wall and fired a wrist shot on net from well out. Talbot tried to push it out to the opposite boards with his stick but ended up leaving it right in his crease.

The Canes crashed the net and the puck pin-balled around for a few seconds before it ended up on Dougie Hamilton’s stick on the back doorstep, who capitalized on Talbot’s mistake and tucked one just inside the post for his 16th goal of the season. The Hurricanes carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

The second period had an uncharacteristic lull. Each team generated some chances throughout but nothing got past the backstops. After Justin Williams was whistled for an unfortunate interference penalty, the Hurricanes went to the penalty kill. Teravainen was able to headman the puck up the ice for a 2-on-1 and found Aho in a similar position as Giroux on the Flyers first goal. Aho, who hasn’t scored in nine games, fired a one-timer just wide on the far side of Talbot. The Canes remained up by a score of 2-1 going into the second intermission.

Early on in the third period Trevor van Riemsdyk got tangled up with a Flyers forechecker and ended up taking a skate blade just under his chin in what could have been a very serious incident. He luckily skated away unscathed.

Minutes later Travis Konecny made a backhanded pass to the crashing Travis Sanheim who got an incredible look at the goal, but Mrazek came up big flashing his pad and keeping the Hurricanes up by one goal. At this point, it felt like Mrazek was going to need to make a few more big saves for the Canes to walk away with two points.

Nino Niederreiter had a huge shift on the boards in the offensive zone and frustrated Scott Laughton enough to draw a few undisciplined cross checks in the back behind the net. He got the gate and the Canes headed to the power play with just under nine minutes left to play in the third.

And the Hurricanes took advantage of it. Faulk was setup at the point for an absolute howitzer of a slap shot that beat a screened Talbot on the blocker side to give the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead. Sean Couturier was unhappy about the series of events that lead up to the Hurricanes goal and talked himself into a 10-minute misconduct.

But the two goal lead wouldn’t last long — just moments later, Jordan Staal got the gate for an interfering hit on Jakub Voracek and the Flyers went to the power play. The 22nd power play in the league made quick work of the 7th penalty kill and the Flyers cut their deficit in half.

As the game winded down, Williams committed an ugly looking trip on Flyers defensemen Ivan Provorov, who crashed to the ice in awkward fashion and immediately left for the locker room. The captain went to the box with less than three minutes left to play in the third, giving the Flyers a chance to crawl back into the game.

But Mrazek had other plans. A couple of big time saves kept the Hurricanes alive as Slavin iced the game with a nearly 200 foot empty net goal. Brock McGinn would put the icing on the cake in the waning seconds with another full-ice empty netter to seal the game at 5-2.

The Hurricanes picked up two absolutely pivotal points and officially eliminated the Flyers from playoff contention. And they put the ribbon on top of a favorable outcome on the ice with an impromptu Storm Surge, capping off the year of celebrations in the same way that it all began — with a charge down the ice and a leap into the end boards.


They Said It

RodBrind’Amour

“I think we played well enough to win. With this group, that’s the one thing that I can pretty much say, that they come to play and they give you what they can. We’re not always going to be great with the execution and this and that, but the effort — I really haven’t had to worry about it too much. Tonight, same thing, guys were giving it all they had and I thought we deserved that one.”

On Petr Mrazek coming up big:

“That’s the other area that’s been solid for us. You’re right, that could have changed the whole outcome of the game. We had a really good first period and we were going well and we give up one of those that should have never happened. When a goalie makes a save like that it just gives the whole group a vote of confidence.”

Justin Williams

“I love our goalies’ competitive fire, I absolutely love it. [McElhinney] is a little bit more calm and Petr is a little bit more fiery, but together they’ve been phenomenal for us.”

“Winning is good, but the time for reflection really is at the end of the year. So we’re enjoying it and we’re living in the moment right now and we’re playing important hockey games which is what we love to do this time of year.”

On losing to Washington twice then getting the win tonight:

“Well it stunk not getting any points, right? Certainly in those two games, tied and leading after the second period against Washington. So, those hurt, but if we had lost tonight it wouldn’t have meant anything if we won that game against Washington. Every game is it’s own entity, tonight was a big game and the next one after that is going to be bigger and the next game after that is going to be even bigger.”

On the unexpected Storm Surge:

“The guys wanted to do one, one last one. So, we did one, just off the cuff, just for fun.”


Thoughts

  • Petr Mrazek is an absolute gamer. He made a few huge saves tonight and outshined the opposing Cam Talbot to keep the Hurricanes in the game. Without his play, the Canes likely lose this one.
  • This team is still snakebitten. Sebastian Aho and Justin Williams both failed to convert on A+ chances, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before they get the monkey off of their back. Doing so tomorrow in Pittsburgh would be timely.
  • We can now sit back and watch the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets take on a pair of Western Conference juggernauts in Winnipeg and Nashville. The two points ensures that the Canes won’t be overtaken in the Wild Card 1 position tonight if either or both of the teams below them win.
  • The team is in action tomorrow at 5 PM in Pittsburgh as they take on the Penguins for the final time this season.