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About Last Night: Happy New Year, and Storm Advisory

The Hurricanes finished out the 2010s with a win Tuesday night, as a stellar effort from Petr Mrazek helped Carolina beat Montreal 3-1 in PNC Arena.

Montreal Canadiens v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up the 2010s in fashion Tuesday night, topping the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in a New Year’s Eve battle.

Petr Mrazek played a great game in net for the Hurricanes, while Sebastian Aho, Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel found the score sheet.

Brett Pesce is an offensive weapon

There’s no denying that the Canes’ defensive corps plays a huge role in the offensive attack, maybe as much as any group of blue liners in the league, and Brett Pesce shouldn’t be overlooked in his ability to provide that spark. He made an absolutely brilliant pass to Haula to set up the Canes’ second goal, firing a no-look assist across the front of the net right to Haula’s stick.

The sweet assist was Pesce’s ninth of the year, and the defenseman also has four goals to bring his point total up to 13. He had a career-best 29 points last season, and appears to be well on pace to at least come close to that number again this year.

While Pesce may not put up the offensive numbers that Dougie Hamilton or Jaccob Slavin do, when he’s on his game he is yet another offensive weapon in the Hurricanes’ defensive pairings. Add that with his absolutely stellar defensive play, and Pesce has shaped himself into a really strong hockey player for Carolina.

A good challenge

Coaches challenges are a small, yet important, part of the game, and Rod Brind’Amour seems to have a good sense of when to use them, and when not to use them. Tuesday night, Brind’Amour challenged a game-tying Montreal goal in the third period for goaltender interference, and he got the call overturned and helped the Canes win the game.

So far this season, Brind’Amour is perfect on his challenge calls. With his successful challenge Tuesday night, he is 4 for 4 on the season, and 3 for 3 when challenging the always subjective goaltenders interference.

Compare Brind’Amour to former head coach Bill Peters, who had an abysmal 2 for 17 mark on challenges with the Canes from 2015-17, and it’s nice to have a guy behind the bench who knows when to pull the pin on a challenge. The stakes are higher now, with an unsuccessful challenge resulting in a penalty, so knowing when to use the challenge is key.

Brind’Amour, and the Canes whole coaching staff, made one of the most important plays of the game Tuesday night by challenging Montreal’s goal. It maintained the Hurricanes’ lead, one that Carolina wouldn’t let slip away again.

It was a decade

The 2010s came to an end for the Canes, and every other NHL team, Tuesday night. Carolina finished out the decade with a win, and also the best year and a half the team has experienced in the 10-year span.

As far as the decade went, things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Canes. From 2010-18, Carolina’s season was done after 82 games. The Canes may have started the decade with nine playoff-less season, but the end was pretty sweet for Carolina fans.

With an Eastern Conference finals appearance in the 2018-19 season, and then an exciting start to this year, the future looks much brighter than the past for the Canes.

Tuesday night marked the end of a long and hard decade for Carolina, but it seems pretty obvious that the 2020s will be much friendlier to the Canes. With Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and company showing that the future is good in Carolina, Hurricanes’ fans should be excited for what’s to come.

Wrapping up

The Hurricanes gave Carolina fans more to celebrate than just the new year Tuesday night, as the team finished off the 2010s with two straight wins. The Canes will get back to it Friday night, as they host the Washington Capitals in PNC Arena.

Storm Advisory

  • It was bad news on the injury front for Penguins’ forward Jake Guentzel, as the All-Star forward underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to miss 4-6 months. Guentzel’s injury will open up a spot on the Metropolitan Division All-Star squad, so there could be room for another Hurricane. [Penguins]
  • Another Metro Division All-Star is expected to miss some extended time, as Columbus’ goaltender Joonas Korpisalo is expected to miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery. [NHL]
  • When Haydn and Cale Fleury met on the ice Tuesday night, their mom wasn’t picking any sides.
  • There’s nothing like going out on the pond and playing some outdoor hockey in...Texas? The Winter Classic returns Wednesday in the Cotton Bowl, as the Stars host the Nashville Predators in an outdoor matchup. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
  • Some World Juniors news: Canada blasted the Czech Republic 7-2 Tuesday to clinch group B, as the quarterfinals are now set. Those games will take place Thursday, as Canada plays Slovakia, the US plays Finland, Russia plays Switzerland and Sweden plays the Czech Republic. [CBC]
  • Reminder: Voting for the All-Star Game Last Men In is now open, and features Teuvo Teravainen [NHL]