RALEIGH — Petr Mrazek’s shutout of the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night set a high bar for James Reimer to clear on Saturday. He did - and then some.
Reimer made 41 saves of his own, in front of a significantly shakier offense than the one Mrazek enjoyed the previous night, as the Carolina Hurricanes finished off a pair of back-to-back shutouts against the Pacific Division in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena on Whalers Night. It’s the first time since 2003 that the Hurricanes posted shutouts in back-to-back games.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to grab the lead, in a similar situation to the win the previous night. Teuvo Teravainen and Nino Niederreiter played a game of hot potato in front of Kings goaltender Jack Campbell with one too many passes, but when Teravainen finally shot the puck it ricocheted off a Kings defender and right to Niederreiter who knocked it past Campbell at 4:52.
From there, Reimer took over, doing the splits to shut down Adrian Kempe midway through the period and outwaiting the sizzling Kings winger to make a sterling save in the second period. The disciplined Canes took only one penalty in the first two periods, a Martin Necas slashing call in the first, and while the Kings didn’t score on the power play they turned up the pressure on the Canes net repeatedly.
For their part, the Canes showed little offensive creativity in the second period, where they were outshot 14-8 and called on Reimer repeatedly to save their bacon. Kempe led the Kings with five shots through two, but every time he tested Reimer the Canes netminder was up to the task.
Necas drew a tripping penalty midway through the second penalty on a play where it looked like he may have hurt his ankle significantly, but despite limping to the bench and initially heading back to the locker room he turned around and walked off the injury, not missing a shift in returning at the end of the power play.
Playing back-to-back nights seemed to catch up to the Hurricanes as the game went on, typified by a Jordan Staal breakaway at the end of a penalty kill where he was moving through molasses toward the Los Angeles goal. But the Kings were also playing on tired legs and couldn’t replicate their second-period effort, understandable considering they were in the final game of three in four nights that saw them travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Raleigh.
Kings coach Todd McLellan pulled Campbell with 2:03 remaining, and Andrei Svechnikov nearly ended it with an empty-net bid that went just wide ten seconds later. Reimer went down injured after stopping Drew Doughty with 29 seconds left, sending trainer Doug Bennett to tend to him, but he stayed in to the loud appreciation of the crowd and after Doughty hit the post with eight seconds remaining, Teravainen hit the empty net to seal the win.
They Said It
Well, we survived, there’s no doubt, the last, probably, almost two periods. The first period was fine. I thought it was really good. We came out, we had good jump, we looked like we knew what we were doing. And then we just took the foot off the gas a little. I give their team a lot of credit. They had a game plan, they stuck to it, and they kind of dictated the play. But at the end of the day, considering we had a lot of games at home here, it’s obviously a great way to finish it off.
(Reimer) was obviously the difference. It’s nice to have a couple games like that where both our goalies were solid, especially tonight. Tonight, he’s the reason we got the win. We’ve been on enough of the other end of those, so it’s nice to get one like that.
(Niederreiter) has had a bunch of opportunities this year, and even the last couple games, obviously he’s been frustrated so it’s nice to see him get on the scoresheet.
The whole penalty kill thing is interesting. Sometimes you go stretches where you don’t give up anything, and you’re not really that happy with it, and vice versa. Dean will look at it; there are some things we didn’t do well in this one, but all in all the effort the effort was there, and when we broke down Reimer was there. That’s the difference.
I don’t really look at (player confidence) too much. I look at wins and losses; that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to manage the personalities when they’re not scoring, that’s the issue - but at the end of the day we’re just about winning. Doesn’t matter who scores.
If you don’t have goaltending, you’re not going to go very far. It’s pretty clear, when you look at any team having success, their goaltending is obviously right up there. Tonight - Captain Obvious - that was the difference. But just in general, you need to have the goaltending and saves at the right time. You’ve seen that lately, and that’s huge.
When you see more pucks, and the key part is they don’t go in, you start to get in to a rhythm and feel better. Obviously if they’re scoring you don’t want them to shoot the puck, but that’s an honest team over there. They worked hard, and we just had that little extra in here tonight. We barely squeaked that one in early and then just grind. Kudos to these guys, back end of a back-to-back, obviously our legs were a little juiced from yesterday and we had that commitment and dug in and that’s what it takes.
Anytime as a goalie you make a big save, it’s going to help, give the team a boost, and you want to make those early. It sucks giving up an early one, no matter how much the goal is deserved or not. So when you come up with a big save early, yeah, it gives the team a boost and you can ride momentum a little bit.
I’m fine. Just a little dehydrated, that’s all. I was glad for all the time I was taking, but if I had my way I’d have stayed down for another five minutes, probably. It’s kind of a catch-22, in that case, because you’re resting their best players too. It is what it is, but it wasn’t too much honestly about strategy, it was more about just seeing if my body would unwind a little bit so I could play the last 30.
(Reimer was) absolutely terrific for us tonight. He deserved that one. He’s been battling quite a bit, and he went in tonight and he definitely won the game for us.
(Scoring) definitely helps a lot. When you’re struggling with finding the net, you always second-guess yourself and do different things. It was definitely nice that the puck came back to me even though I should have shot it first. They were definitely trying to give me as many pucks as possible to try to find the net. I’m actually very happy that the puck came back to me. It was great to see how excited they were for me.
The last two or three games I’ve definitely had more chances than the previous five or six, so it’s definitely going in the right direction, but I just have to stay on it and shoot more pucks on the net, and hopefully find the next ones here to come.
They’re a fast team, and they play simple. They get pucks in deep all the time, they play very simple and very smart. We had to play really hard to get that win. You realize how effective they were. They were all over us, especially in the third period, and early on they got so many shots on the net. We definitely had to make sure to play simple hockey.
You’ve got to make hay while the sun is shining. It’s a tough stretch coming up for us, so we have to make sure we get every single win we can.
- It seems fitting that the Hurricanes would set a franchise record, including their time in Hartford, on Whalers Night. These two games are the first time in franchise history that the Canes have recorded back-to-back shutouts with different goaltenders.
- It’s only the second time that they’ve posted whitewashes on two consecutive nights. Kevin Weekes shut out the Penguins and Wild on March 6 and 7, 2003, the only other time the Canes (or Whalers) have done it. Weekes was also the author of the Canes’ last set of back-to-back blankings, when he dueled the Lightning to a scoreless tie on November 23, 2003, then beat the Islanders 2-0 three nights later.
- The Canes’ 40-point club welcomed a new member when Aho recorded an assist on Niederreiter’s goal. He joins Teravainen, Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov with 40 points, and makes Carolina one of three teams in the league with four 40-point men, joining the Lightning and Jets.
- Jaccob Slavin’s ironman streak is now at 348 consecutive games, and he will tie Eric Staal on Monday in Washington (assuming he plays) for second place in franchise history.
- Don’t look now, but the Canes’ shaky penalty kill seems to have turned a corner recently. They’re 7-for-7 in the past three games, and have been perfect in five of their last six outings.
- The Canes will take the day off tomorrow prior to their flight to Washington.