RALEIGH — The final days of the Carolina Hurricanes’ season-long seven-game homestand are upon us, and with a 3-2-0 record through five games, the Canes needed to pull through on Friday night in their inter-conference matchup with the Arizona Coyotes.
With Justin Williams (and Haydn Fleury, naturally) looking on as healthy scratches in the press box, the Canes did pull through, and they did so thanks to a trio of now-ten-goal-scorers, a marvelous performance in net, and a pretty complete effort from their entire lineup in a 3-0 win.
Carolina dominated play in the opening frame, and they were the first team to get on the board.
Jake Gardiner sent a cross-corner dump-in into the Arizona zone, where Andrei Svechnikov retrieved the puck and delivered a gorgeous pass to the slot to a streaking Warren Foegele, who went low on Antti Raanta’s blocker side for his tenth goal of the season.
Andrei Svechnikov with a gorgeous pass to Warren Foegele for Foegele's 10th of the season. Jake Gardiner with the secondary helper. 1-0 Hurricanes over the Coyotes. pic.twitter.com/1acsDwR56S— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) January 11, 2020
The Hurricanes continued to mount the pressure on the Coyotes as the second half of the period progressed. Petr Mrazek made his early save of the night contender on a quick rush following the game’s first goal. He deflected a shot away with his blocker and kept the game at 1-0.
Arizona got another scare late in the period when Erik Haula picked off an east-west pass at the Coyotes’ blue line and entered in on a clear-cut breakaway. His shot pinged right off the crossbar and deflected down between the legs of Raanta, who stayed still and let the puck rest under his pads.
The ‘Yotes fought back a bit late in the period, but it was a largely dominant first period from the Hurricanes on home ice.
Carolina’s game fluctuated a bit through the middle of the second period. The Coyotes started to put together some very dangerous opportunities, but Mrazek had one of his best periods of the season, stopping 15 shots in the frame and 25 shots through two periods.
Then, the final 73 seconds happened.
With 1:13 left in the period, the Hurricanes played a game of wall ball in the Arizona zone as Jaccob Slavin’s shot bounced off the end boards and right back out to Dougie Hamilton, whose follow-up shot got deflected by Lucas Wallmark and fluttered over the shoulder of Raanta to give the Canes a big insurance marker.
Then, the period ended, right?
With time expiring in the period, Ryan Dzingel found Martin Necas along the left wing, which led to some magic from the rookie.
Necas, skating backwards on his edges, danced around Clayton Keller, drove down the wing and then wrapped around for a backhanded beauty on Raanta with 9.6 seconds left in the middle frame.
Foegele, Wallmark, and Necas each netted their tenth goals of the season through two periods, and Necas’ gorgeous tally capped off what had been a bit of a tenuous period that ended with a dramatic swell of offense for the Hurricanes.
Down 3-0 entering the third period, Arizona made a goalie change. They yanked Raanta, who allowed three goals on 20 shots through two periods and, according to Craig Morgan of The Athletic, was suffering from the after-effects of a lower-body injury that cost him the past few games. Young backup Adin Hill, filling in on the roster for injured All-Star Darcy Kuemper, entered for the final 20 minutes.
Mrazek’s second-period dominance carried over into the early stages of the third period.
During a Carolina power play, Necas turned the puck over at the blue line, which gave way to a two-on-one rush which turned into a partial breakaway that was snuffed out in a huge way by Mrazek.
From there, the Hurricanes went into full-on “park the bus” mode, and they executed that game plan perfectly, allowing just seven shots on Mrazek in the final frame and putting a bow on a great overall team effort.
Mrazek, the game’s first star, stopped 32 shots in his third shutout of the season. He also improved to 13-6-0 on home ice this season.
With the win, the Hurricanes improved to 4-2-0 on the homestand. They will close out said homestand with Whalers Night against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday before heading to the nation’s capital for a big divisional matchup with the Washington Capitals.