It took a total team effort last night from everyone on the ice to the guys behind the scenes in the video room, but the Carolina Hurricanes were able to win a vital game 4-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Petr Mrazek had another phenomenal night in net and Dougie Hamilton scored twice giving the Canes a chance (with some help) to clinch a playoff spot on Thursday.
The Good - Everyone Came To Play
After some very questionable performances by the Hurricanes over the past week it was easy to understand why many were fearful of the outcome going in to last night. Another poor effort could result in the Canes on the outside looking in and a dream filled season about to go to waste. Thankfully that did not occur.
It only seems fitting that Justin Williams would be the guy who would score the first goal of the game for the Canes when they desperately needed to get going. There was nothing fancy with this play, just luck. But Willy has been at the helm for some of the most crucial goals all year and he can now add this one to his tally.
Put it on the net and good things happen! pic.twitter.com/vzaIjFr8o4— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 3, 2019
That was the spark the Hurricanes needed. It calmed their nerves and allowed the team to settle in and Dougie Hamilton would add a second goal, on the power play, later in the period. Once again just getting a puck on net resulted in a lucky bounce but that’s what hard work will reward you with.
Always stick with the play. pic.twitter.com/41rquY72K6— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 3, 2019
As fitting as it was for Williams to score the first goal it is just as fitting that Hamilton would score the second goal and add an empty netter later in the game. Hamilton has been the Hurricane best defenseman since the calendar turned to 2019 and now has a new career high in goals at 18. To put that in to perspective, Elias Lindholm never scored 18 goals as a Hurricane.
There is one other unsung hero that has emerged in the second half of the season and he is another one of the leaders of the team. Jordan Staal has scored some very timely goals like Williams and his tally in the third period got the old ‘Hey Hey Whaddya Say’ call from John Forslund so that tells you how important it was.
Wicked wrister pic.twitter.com/LIbLEOHQLf— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 3, 2019
These three guys have stepped up as leaders on the ice and both have all have unique personalities that lead to smiles throughout the entire locker room. But they cannot do it alone. Last night was a total team effort and it paid off with two massive points.
The Good Part 2: The Video Coaches
We’re skipping the bad part because the video coaches for the Carolina Hurricanes deserve a shout out instead. Chris Huffine and LJ Scarpace may have made the biggest play on the entire night when they sent the call to Rod Brind’Amour that he needed to challenge a goal by Toronto in the first period.
With the Canes having struggled in Pittsburgh they needed to come out strong and score first. Toronto almost took that from them on a two on one where Auston Matthews found William Nylander who put the puck past Mrazek. But Brind’Amour challenged the play for off-sides and the goal was overturned. Shortly thereafter Williams scored to put the Canes ahead.
William Nylander scores but the play is called back due to Nylander being offside. #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/AvyqBbHdu4— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) April 3, 2019
That was the defining moment in this contest. Had that goal been upheld the Canes could have easily lost that game. They had been in a downward spiral and something like that could have broken any chance they had. Huffine and Scarpace may have literally saved the season by catching that off-sides.
The Great - PETR, PETR, PETR
Game after game we have sat here in amazement at the season Petr Mrazek is having. He continues to outright steal games for the Hurricanes. Last night was no different.
While he did not have to face a ton of shots he singlehandedly held the Canes in the game late in the second period and early in the third. Mrazek continues to shine whenever he is in net for Carolina and is setting himself up for a very nice payday this summer.
Mrazek deserves to get all three games this week as the Canes need to solidify a starter for a potential playoff run and right now that would appear to be Petr. By no means is this any disrespect to Curtis McElhinney, who has also had a phenomenal season, but Mrazek has a chance to be the number one guy for multiple seasons here and this seems to be the right time to kind of hand him the reins.
Petr Mrazek made 23 saves tonight to earn the 100th win of his NHL career.— Hurricanes PR (@CanesPR) April 3, 2019
Moral of the Story
After their defeating loss to the Penguins on Sunday the Hurricanes were faced with a choice. Win their remaining games and continue to control their own fate or crumble in the face of adversity. Time after time this season the Hurricane have chosen to respond and take control. Last night was no different.
It took an entire team from the coaches to the players but they got the job done. From Willy to Dougie, from Jordan Staal and Petr Mrazek to Huffine and Scarpace. Every single member of the team gave it their all last night and they got rewarded for doing so.
This will allow the Canes an opportunity with a little help to possibly clinch their first playoff berth in a decade on home ice Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. The Canes have to take care of their own business and root for the Capitals for one night only but it can absolutely happen. If that doesn’t scream a storybook end then nothing does.