In their first game back in PNC Arena after a four-game road swing, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 behind a good performance from Petr Mrazek and a two-point night from Nino Niederreiter.
The Canes played well from start to finish to beat the Devils, getting good production from most of the guys on the ice. After a string of eight straight games without playing a team in the bottom three of a division, the Hurricanes finally had a more favorable matchup Friday night and took full advantage.
The game that Petr Mrazek needed
There’s no sugar coating it. Petr Mrazek hasn’t been great lately, and he desperately needed a good game to gather some confidence and try to get back on track.
He did just that Friday night, which happened to be his birthday, as he put together his best performance in quite some time against the Devils. Mrazek stopped 35 of 37 New Jersey shots, and he really couldn’t do much on the two that went in.
Mrazek had given up 13 goals over his last three games heading into the game with the Devils, but he showed off what he can look like when he is on his game. He made some great saves to keep the Canes in the game and in the lead, including this flurry of great stops in the third period with New Jersey on a power play.
Mrazek is a good goaltender, and he showed that in PNC Friday night. Hopefully for the Canes, he can take this good performance and find his groove again. Carolina needs Mrazek to be on his game, and Friday was a step in the right direction.
A spectacular goal for a spectacular line
Who needs romance on Valentine’s Day when you can just watch the Hurricanes’ top line play hockey? Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov offered a stunning tic-tac-toe goal that could make anyone fall head over heels for the sport in the second period Friday night.
Wooooooooooowie. What a goal. Andrei Svechnikov to Sebastian Aho to Teuvo Teravainen to Andrei Svechnikov. Holy moly. 3-1 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/8Xrq9XNqGY— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 15, 2020
Literally everything about this goal is perfect. Brett Pesce did a great job in the Canes’ defensive zone to win the puck and spring Aho to get things started. Then magic happened from the Canes’ newly formed SAT line.
Aho got the puck to Svechnikov, who skated it into the zone before dropping it back to Aho, who rifled a perfect pass across the ice to Teravainen. As he tends to do, Teravainen delivered a mesmerizing pass to Svechnikov, who had gotten himself right where he needed to be outside the crease.
The way these three work together is phenomenal, and it was on full display for a goal that Canes fans are going to see a whole lot of in the days to come. Hockey doesn’t get much better than what Aho, Teravainen and Svechnikov displayed with this beauty Saturday.
Nino Niederreiter’s best game in a while
The Hurricanes got a goal and an assist from forward Nino Niederreiter Friday night, and he played a huge role in another Hurricanes goal with his position near the net.
The effort was Niederreiter’s first multi-point game since Dec. 21, and just his seventh multi-point game of the season. Niederreiter’s goal opened up the scoring in the first period and it was an absolute laser. Niederreiter isn’t necessarily known for his ability to blast deep shots, but his tally Friday was a great long-range blast.
Nino Niederreiter from doooown town. Assists to Haydn Fleury and Martin Necas. Big early goal for Nino and the Hurricanes against the Devils. pic.twitter.com/WEiRU7yTj0— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 15, 2020
Niederreiter made another great play later in the game, setting up Joel Edmundson for Carolina’s fifth goal of the night. Niederreiter had a heads-up effort on the assist, springing a long pass to Edmundson who had just come out of the penalty box.
Out of the box, into the net. Nino Niederreiter springs Joel Edmundson, and Eddy scores on the breakaway. pic.twitter.com/v4SJQxx96g— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 15, 2020
After wowing in his first partial season with the Canes last year, Niederreiter hasn’t had quite the same production in 2019-20. However, he was great Friday night and played a huge role in the Hurricanes’ commanding win over the Devils.
Don’t forget the Fleury on Valentine’s Day
Another guy who really stood out for the Hurricanes Friday was defenseman Haydn Fleury, who finished the night with an assist and some really great defensive plays.
Fleury did a lot of the grunt work to set up Niederreiter’s goal. He made a great defensive play and absorbed a big hit to get things started for the Canes, and he made his way up the ice to put the first shot of the sequence on net. He got the puck and made the pass to set up Niederreiter.
Fleury also did some great work on the defensive side of the puck. He seemed to be in the right position to make plays all night, and was quick and crisp with his decision making. He also had some flashy plays to keep the Devils out of the goal.
Fleury got inconsistent playing time early in the season, splitting starts on the blue line with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Since Dougie Hamilton’s leg injury, Fleury has become an everyday player for the Canes and he’s been pretty good. He was good again Friday, showing yet again that he has what it takes to be a contributor in the NHL.
It was an all-around good win for the Hurricanes Friday night, and one the team really did need coming back home after a 2-2 road trip. The Canes will have a quick turnaround though, as they host the Connor McDavid-less Oilers in PNC Sunday.