For two teams vying for a playoff spot but trending in the wrong direction, Saturday afternoon’s tilt between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders felt like an absolute must-win for both sides.
Sixty minutes of hockey wasn’t enough for them, but the Hurricanes made good use of the overtime period to secure a gargantuan two points against the Islanders to gain some much-needed ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Hurricanes got off to a roaring start. From the first shift, they pinned the puck in the offensive zone and had the Islanders out of sorts and forced to ice the puck on numerous occasions.
Their sustained pressure was eventually rewarded in the form of a big opening goal. The Jordan Staal line commanded a heavy offensive zone shift that led to a loose puck finding its way back to the point. Haydn Fleury stepped in and fired an absolute rocket that got deflected in front by Justin Williams to give the Hurricanes their first 1-0 lead since February 18 in Nashville.
Trying to help the Hurricanes avoid an early tee-time, Haydn Fleury tees off and launches a rocket by Thomas Greiss to give Carolina a 1-0 lead on Long Island. Goal number 5 on the season for Fleury. pic.twitter.com/bnd9dLDKkE— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) March 7, 2020
Carolina kept control of the game through middle stages of the opening frame, putting together their best start to a game in weeks. In the final minutes of the period, the Hurricanes were gifted a string of big opportunities.
Leo Komarov got assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Brady Skjei, and the Canes had four minutes to get another goal.
They maintained possession for a long time and generated some decent scoring chances, but they struggled to get to the middle of the ice and capitalize on it. They were kept to the outside, and as a result they couldn’t get the quality that they needed.
New York killed off the penalty, but with just under two minutes to go in the period, Carolina got another power play, this time for two minutes.
Again, there was plenty of puck movement, but it was stationary and uneventful. The Islanders killed off six minutes worth of penalties in about eight minutes of in-game time.
The Islanders built off of those kills and put together a much better second period. At the 5:15 mark of the frame, they broke through and tied the game at one goal apiece.
Skjei couldn’t corral a puck along the boards, and two neighboring Isles forwards pressed down and gained possession before finding Ryan Pulock pinching down and readying for the quick shot that would beat Anton Forsberg top-shelf.
The period was tightly contested and the physicality continued to play a big role in the game. Both teams finished their checks with a purpose and fought hard along the boards. Williams, in particular was a man on a mission. After taking a bit to settle in, it looks like the 38-year-old is feeling it right now.
The second period came to a close with the score even at one, setting the table for an intense final twenty minutes of regulation time.
Six minutes into the third period, the Hurricanes regained the lead after a frantic sequence in front of Forsberg.
Joel Edmundson blocked a big shot in front of the Canes net, and it sprung an odd-man rush the other way.
Andrei Svechnikov used his reach to finesse a pass to Teuvo Teravainen, and his shot bounced right in the middle of the crease, where an unmarked Edmundson swooped in and put the puck right into the empty net.
Joel Edmundson puts the puck into the wide-open net. Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen made it happen. The Hurricanes have taken a 2-1 lead in the third period on Long Island. pic.twitter.com/koKWuQZrIv— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) March 7, 2020
The Canes went most of the third period in control of the lead, but a late push from the Isles tied the game.
A long offensive zone shift was broken open after Trevor van Riemsdyk lost a battle with Josh Bailey and let him get open in front. Young defenseman Noah Dobson circled the wagons and fed Bailey in front with 4:58 on the clock to tie the game.
The final minute of the third period was a rollercoaster of emotions.
With 52 seconds left, Skjei got whistled for tripping. The Hurricanes were incensed because they thought Matthew Barzal embellished the call. It was especially irritating because Skjei got tripped very obviously earlier in the period and it somehow wasn’t called a penalty.
That didn’t matter, though, because the Islanders had a power play and a chance to win the ga...
Oh, okay never mind.
Barzal delivered an extremely hard high-stick to Staal’s nose. The Canes captain was bleeding heavily after the incident and just like that it was a 4-on-4 sequence in the final seconds of regulation.
The game went to overtime, wherein the Hurricanes smartly ragged the puck for the remainder of Skjei’s penalty before going on a lengthy 4-on-3 power play that ended up not being very lengthy at all.
Just 96 seconds into overtime, Sebastian Aho’s shot got kicked up in the air and batted down by Svechnikov off of the crossbar and onto the tape of Vincent Trocheck. The club’s newest forward threw the puck off of an Islanders defenseman’s face from a tough angle and it deflected into the net.
A lengthy review followed the goal, because it sure seemed like Svechnikov batted the puck down with a high stick. The call on the ice stood, though, which was a good goal.
Trocheck’s goal was the difference in what was an absolute must-win game for the Hurricanes, who saw their four-game losing streak come to an end.
Svechnikov finished the game with the assists in 19:09 of ice time, including the primary helper on Trocheck’s game-winner.
The quiet x-factor was the performance of Forsberg, who stopped 24 of 26 shots in his first win as a Hurricane. He was marvelous during a number of stretches in the game, and his big breakaway stop in the first period may very well have totally changed how the game would go onto play out.
With the win, Carolina have a record of 36-25-5. They are just two points behind the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets with two games in hand. They’re now two points shy of the Islanders with a game in hand, as well.
It’ll be a quick turnaround for the Hurricanes, and a tough one at that. They’ll take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Steel City tomorrow afternoon.
Following the game, the Hurricanes recalled Morgan Geekie from Charlotte, the first career NHL callup for the 2017 third-round pick. No players were visibly injured in the game, and no forward missed a shift, but someone could be banged up and with the Canes playing early tomorrow, they may have figured that having an extra body would give them a little bit of a cushion for tomorrow’s game against the Penguins. The release from the team is below.
CANES RECALL GEEKIE FROM CHARLOTTE
Forward has posted 42 points in 55 AHL games this season
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Morgan Geekie from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Geekie, 21, has tallied 42 points (22g, 20a) in 55 AHL games with the Checkers this season. The 6’2”, 192-pound forward is looking to make his NHL debut. Geekie has registered 88 points (41g, 47a) in 128 AHL games over two seasons with Charlotte. During the 2019 AHL playoffs, he recorded 18 points (8g, 10a) in 19 games as the Checkers won their first-ever Calder Cup Championship. Geekie posted 202 points (78g, 124a) in 216 Western Hockey League (WHL) games with Tri-City from 2014-18. The Strathclair, Man., native was drafted by the Hurricanes in the third round, 67th overall, of the 2017 NHL Draft.