Welcome to week two of the Carolina Hurricanes NHL 20 season simulation.
For more information on how all of this works, head over to part one of the series from last week.
They went 2-2-0 in their first four games of simulation, but they weren’t able to build on the momentum they built in the final couple of games and instead trended in the wrong direction in week two.
Hurricanes vs. Blues (March 19)
The Hurricanes opened the week with a cross-conference matchup with the St. Louis Blues, a homecoming game for former Carolina blueliner Justin Faulk.
You’ll never guess who scored the game’s first goal.
Faulk fired a point shot up and over the glove of a screened James Reimer and secured a lead for the Blues just over five minutes into the game.
Jaccob Slavin answered at 12:23 with a goal of his own. A long offensive zone shift was kept alive by Slavin, who pinched up the left side boards, shifted to the top of the left circle, and released a quick snap shot off of the cross bar and by Jordan Binnington.
Just under five minutes later, the Canes got their first lead of the night.
An excellent individual effort from Brady Skjei saw the fleet-footed defenseman take the puck from blue line to blue line before dropping the puck to Andrei Svechnikov. Svech carried the puck around the right circle, lowered his shoulder to get to the paint, and then jammed home his own rebound for a gorgeous power goal.
A Blues penalty gifted the Hurricanes with a chance to pad their lead just before the halfway mark of the second period, but it ended up being a bit of a disaster.
Only one shot went on goal during the two-minute stretch, and it wasn’t from anyone on Rod Brind’Amour’s team. Colton Parayko made an aggressive play to jump up in the rush after a Canes turnover deep in the Blues zone. He cashed in and fired a heavy one-timer by Reimer from the high slot. The shorthanded goal tied the game.
St. Louis followed that momentum-shifting goal with a tiebreaker with 3:30 left in the period.
Alex Pietrangelo sent a quiet shot on net through traffic from the top of the left circle, and his shot deflected off of Jordan Staal, which changed the puck’s trajectory enough to beat Reimer and make it a 3-2 game entering the second intermission.
Carolina mounted a strong push in the first half of the third period. They outshot St. Louis 8-1 through the first seven minutes of the frame, and eventually tied the game at 8:15.
Justin Williams capitalized on a bad line change by the Blues and got sprung for a breakaway thanks to a stretch pass from Jake Gardiner. Williams beat Binnington on the goalie’s glove side and the PNC Arena crowd went bonkers. The game was tied.
The game needed overtime, and then it needed a shootout.
The lone goal-scorer in the skills competition was St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly, who slid a puck through the legs of Reimer in the third round to make the difference in a 4-3 game.
It was an exciting game from start to finish, and the Canes managed to secure a point after trailing through forty minutes. That said, the extra point would have been huge.
Williams had a goal and an assist in the game. Skjei and Slavin combined for two assists and a plus-three rating while both seeing north of 23:30 of ice time. Reimer stopped 26 of 29 shots.
Hurricanes vs. Senators (March 21)
The Canes bounced back with a much-needed win against the Sens in a game that appeared to be decided early in the third period but then got way too close for comfort late in the game.
Chris Tierney actually opened the scoring with a deflection at the top of Petr Mrazek’s crease just under seven minutes into the game. The point shot that led to the deflection came from former Hurricane Ron Hainsey.
The Hurricanes started to really dominate the game from there, though. They mounted a constant offensive attack through the second half of the first period, and it eventually led to the game-tying goal.
Vincent Trocheck corralled a rebound in front of the Ottawa net and roofed it over the outstretched pad of Anders Nilsson to continue his hot scoring streak in a Hurricanes sweater.
Trocheck’s line continued to put a pounding on the Sens in the second period, led by a two-goal frame from young Martin Necas.
Necas’ first goal came in the opening minutes of the period. He and Gardiner played catch at the offensive blue line and eventually lulled the Ottawa penalty kill to sleep. Gardiner got a return pass from Necas and fired a pass through the Senators PK and onto the stick of a pinching Necas down the right-side boards. He shifted to the middle of the ice, faked a shot, and then fired the puck through the lane he created to make it a 2-1 game.
It was a highlight reel goal for Necas, who’s in the midst of the hottest scoring stretch of his rookie season.
That continued with 39 seconds left in the frame.
Joel Edmundson won a defensive zone board battle and got the puck to Trevor van Riemsdyk for a clean zone exit. TvR found Necas in the neutral zone and the rising Czech star did the rest. Necas blew by the Ottawa defense and earned himself a partial breakaway. He made a quick move to the backhand and beat Nilsson to make it 3-1.
Brock McGinn added to the total at 4:50 of the third period, when he banked a shot off of Nilsson from a tough angle along the goal line to make it 4-1.
Carolina should’ve had things wrapped up at that point, but they let Ottawa claw their way back.
Just before the twelve-minute mark of the third, Connor Brown scored his 17th goal of the season on a backdoor tap-in at the end of a defensive breakdown to cut the Carolina lead to two goals.
65 seconds later, Mike Reilly made it a one-goal game. A terrible line change from Carolina’s fourth line gifted the Senators with an easy four-on-two rush. Reilly was the trailer on the play and he sent a slap shot over the blocker of Mrazek. Just like that, it was 4-3.
The Hurricanes did manage to put the clamps down and close out a win.
Necas found the back of the net twice in the win. He’s on an absolutely dominant tear as of late. Trocheck scored yet again, as well. The trio of Nino Niederreiter, Trocheck, and Necas has been the Canes’ best line since March 12.
Mrazek stopped 22 of 25 shots.
Hurricanes at Islanders (March 22)
Carolina’s second game in as many nights was a dud in the form of a 4-0 loss against Barry Trotz’s Isles.
Anthony Beauvillier opened the scoring on an early second-period power play and Jean-Gabriel Pageau padded the lead just over halfway through the game. New York had a two-goal lead through forty minutes.
Recently recalled Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey scored his first goal of the season at 6:26 of the third period to make it 3-0 and Ryan Pulock capped the game’s scoring with another Islanders power play goal at 10:10 of the third to make it 4-0.
The Hurricanes had chances to score, via four power plays, but they couldn’t produce anything. Their penalty kill was heavily worked, as well, which ruined any of their brief stretches of strong play. The PK yielded two goals on seven attempts.
Hurricanes at Penguins (March 24)
Carolina had an off day before traveling to Pittsburgh for their third of four head-to-head matchups in the month of March.
Sebastian Aho opened the scoring with a power play goal just 1:03 into the first period. His 39th goal of the season gave the Canes an early lead, but it ended up being the team’s final scoring play.
Trade deadline acquisition Evan Rodrigues evened the score with 4:47 left in the opening frame. He flew into the offensive zone on a line change after Sidney Crosby’s line cycled the puck around the Canes defense for a long stretch. He got a centering pass from Crosby and sent it off of Reimer’s pad and just over the goal line.
A very rare Slavin penalty early in the second period gave the Penguins a chance at their first lead of the night, and they took advantage.
Patric Hornqvist won a net-front battle with van Riemsdyk and hammered home a rebound at the top of the crease to make it a 2-1 game.
Former Carolina prospect Brian Dumoulin sent a long-range missile by Reimer from the top of the point just under halfway through the period to extend the Penguins’ lead to 3-1. An uneventful third period rendered no additional scoring, meaning the Hurricanes dropped their final date of the season at PPG Paints Arena in regulation time.
Reimer was solid, stopping 32 of 35 shots, but it wasn’t enough for the Canes to win. The biggest culprit might’ve been the power play, which failed to score after Aho’s early tally. They had two additional power plays in the first period and five total throughout the game.
The Hurricanes finish the week with a 1-2-1 record. Their simulation record now sits at a very uninspiring 3-4-1.