In what may prove to be one of the bigger gut-check moments of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes shook off their poor performance on Tuesday as well as a 2-0 deficit to down the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 on Thursday night. Andrei Svechnikov was the the catalyst for the turnaround as the teenager put together a three-point night that included the first goal of the evening, the go-ahead goal, and an assist on what ultimately served as the game-winning goal. The team-wide quality effort could not have come at a better time as the Canes now jump back into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The first period began with each team working through a sleepy power play. Both teams struggled to generate any offense of consequence or momentum in the neutral zone as each team continued to feel their opponent out. Following an unforced icing late in the period, however, the Coyotes jumped out on top as Alex Goligoski flicked a wrister with eyes past a Derek Stepan screen and in the net.
After a lackluster period from each team that saw the Canes come out on the short end down 1-0, the Canes once again went down a man on a Justin Williams high-stick. The Coyotes made the Canes pay as Christian Dvorak stuffed home a rebound in front of James Reimer. Just like that, the Canes were facing a 2-0 deficit on the road, just two days after one of their most disappointing efforts of the season.
This proved to be a turning point of sorts, as the Canes proceeded to turn the second period around swiftly. Exactly one minute after the Coyotes’ tally, the Canes jumped on the board with Svechnikov banging home a rebound to get the Canes on the board.
With the action now tilted towards the Arizona zone, the Canes continued to apply pressure and were rewarded again with Jaccob Slavin smashing home a very accurate one-time slapshot through traffic to knot the score at 2-2 just before the halfway mark of the contest. The Canes were not done with their flurry of activity, and minutes later, Svechnikov earned the go-ahead goal with a near carbon copy of his first goal as he put home a rebound from the right doorstep. In less than seven minutes, the Canes turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 advantage.
In what turned into a period dominated by the Canes, they opened the door for the Coyotes to even matters as the Canes squandered a power play opportunity late, only to see the Coyotes earn a power play chance of their own. Fortunately for the Canes, the penalty kill stood tall to preserve the hard-fought lead earned in the middle portion of the profitable second stanza.
Carrying a one goal advantage into the third, the Canes got immediately back to business. Once again, Svechnikov was right in the middle of the action as he chased up the ice in a near breakaway, only to recover the rebound from his backhander and feed Sebastian Aho for the marker to make the score 4-2 just over a minute into the final period. The Coyotes would not go away, however, as they answered right back with a goal from Conor Garland on a redirection of a Jakob Chychrun point shot. Just like that, the tenuous one goal difference was restored.
The Canes had a golden opportunity with 13 minutes left as Svechnikov - with two goals and three points already on the night - leaked out on a breakaway, only to be shut down my Antti Raanta. The speed continued to ramp up from both teams as the third period continued with the Canes nursing the 4-3 lead.
The final major test arrived with just under four minutes remaining as Lucas Wallmark was sent off for boarding. When he needed to come up with his best, Reimer denied a difficult deflection and the penalty kill ultimately prevailed as the Coyotes emptied their net in desperation. The death knell was delivered in familiar fashion as Aho earned his second goal by creating a turnover and converting it into the vacant cage.
The 5-3 final provided the Canes with exactly what they needed at a most important juncture. Reimer was again solid as he stopped 30 shots on the night. Eight Canes made their way on the scoresheet, with Aho and Svechnikov leading the way with three each. The road trip continues on Saturday as the Canes head to Vegas for their only visit of the season.