After the disaster of a game against St. Louis, the Carolina Hurricanes faced what felt like a must win game last night against the Arizona Coyotes. Things started off very poorly as the Canes found themselves down 2-0 and wondering where this season had gone wrong. But then Andrei Svechnikov took over the game and lead his team on their way to a come-from-behind 5-3 victory.
The Good - The Defense & Goaltending Showed Up
Ever since Dougie Hamilton got injured, the defense for the Canes has been abysmal. Everyone outside of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce had struggled, and even the forwards had struggled to cover their own. But everyone came together last night, led by a stellar defensive performance by Pesce.
The penalty kill gave up one goal off a rebound, but overall they were a massive part of why the team won the game. Pesce blocked numerous shots and at one point he had a shift that lasted nearly two and a half minutes throughout a penalty kill.
Not only was the defensive side of the game there but the offense was there from the back end as well. Slavin scored a goal, Trevor van Riemsdyk has two assists, and both Joel Edmundson and Haydn Fleury has assists as well.
We already knew Slavin was accurate pic.twitter.com/C3WoB8ebUg— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 7, 2020
With Hamilton out, the rest of the defense has to continue to step up and last night they did just that. It also helped that their goaltender made big saves at big times.
James Reimer may have given up three goals, but he made multiple big saves throughout the game that held the lead for the Hurricanes. He’s 5-0-1 in his last six games and he is finding a way to steal games for the Canes. This is the biggest difference between Reimer and Petr Mrazek currently. Mrazek hasn’t been able to make the big saves at the big moments lately and that has led to some difficult losses over the past few weeks. It should be Reimer’s crease until further notice, similar to how Curtis McElhinney grabbed the reins for a couple of weeks around this time last season.
Everything came together for a great game on the defensive side of the puck last night. From the goalie out, everyone played their game, and that showed in the final result.
The Great - Svech the Beast
For the majority of his young career, Andrei Svechnikov has played on the second or third line. Many people has wanted to see what he could do with more consistent playing time and better line mates. Needing a massive spark, Rod Brind’Amour put him on a line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen which created a dynamic top line.
The results were evident quickly.
Svechnikov scored two goals last night and had multiple breakaways where he could have had a hat trick. It was a game where he truly took over the contest and dominated the game. We have seen those games from Aho in years past but they have been fewer and further between this year despite his 44 goal pace. This was one of the first times we have seen Svechnikov truly take over a game, and it’s no coincidence it came after he was put on a line with true scorers.
YEAH SVECH YEAH SVECH pic.twitter.com/6L7bEagvX9— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 7, 2020
Not only did he score two great goals, but his play set up the game winning goal that Aho scored. He raced in on a breakaway looking for the hat trick but after the puck didn’t go in, he stuck with the play and found a charging Aho who buried that puck.
The boys are clicking pic.twitter.com/174ayP5sXC— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 7, 2020
Svechnikov’s play-making ability has been his largest improvement over his rookie season which is why he now has 50 points on the year. That line with Svechnikov, Aho, and Teravainen can be one of the most dangerous lines in the entire NHL but Brind’Amour has to stick with it. He has sheltered Svechnikov for most of his career so far but it is time to let the beast out of the cage and reap the rewards.
In The End
This was a great comeback win for the Hurricanes in a must-win game. They have successfully flushed the St. Louis game and can look ahead to Vegas. The Golden Knights haven’t played at home since January 11th and had a long five hour flight back home after defeating the Florida Panthers last night in Sunrise. The Hurricanes must jump on them early and they need every guy going once again.
The defense has to play at the level it did last night, and Brind’Amour has to go back to the goaltender that is currently winning. If they do that and stick with the dangerous top line of Aho, Teravainen, and Svechnikov this road trip could literally save their season.
- The Hurricanes are seeking Centennial Authority funding for a potential 2021 Stadium Series game. [N&O]
- Speaking of the Stadium Series games, preparations are underway at AFA Stadium for the upcoming game between the Avalanche and Kings. [FOX 21]
- The San Antonio Rampage will be on the move after this season as the franchise has been sold to the Vegas Golden Knights. [NHL]
- On the heels of the Rampage’s sale, could this be the time for the Blues to bring an AHL team to Kansas City? [St Louis Game Time]
- Revisiting seven big trades from this past off-season and how each team has fared. [NBC Sports]
- Re-drafting the 2014 NHL class based on what we know now. [The Athletic $]