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About Last Weekend: Freekie for Geekie

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A three-point debut for Morgan Geekie, three goals from veteran Justin Williams and an overtime winner from Vincent Trocheck highlighted a great weekend of Hurricanes hockey.

NHL: MAR 08 Hurricanes at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a huge weekend for the Carolina Hurricanes, who won back-to-back afternoon tilts over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins to jump back into a playoff spot.

On Saturday on Long Island, the Canes topped the Islanders in overtime thanks to a game-winning goal from Vincent Trocheck. Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Canes dominated the Penguins behind a standout performance from NHL newcomer Morgan Geekie.

The Hurricanes now hold onto the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and will look to keep the ball rolling after an all-around great weekend.

Geekie Squad

The story of the weekend was the phenomenal NHL debut of Geekie on Sunday in Pittsburgh, as the 2017 third-round pick scored two goals and added an assist in his first-career game.

After getting the call to join the Hurricanes on Saturday, Geekie found himself suiting up in an NHL dressing room for the first time getting ready to take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Whatever nerves that Geekie had clearly didn’t affect him too much, as the 21-year old center netted the first goal of his NHL career just three shifts and 9:52 seconds into his first game. Jake Gardiner made a great feed to Geekie, who was in the perfect position in front of the net to send it past Tristan Jarry in net.

Geekie’s day was far from done, and he got his first NHL assist midway through the second period to tie the game at 2-2. Geekie won an offensive zone faceoff against NHL veteran Evgeni Malkin, and he immediately got himself in front of the crease. Jaccob Slavin blasted a shot from the point for the goal, with Geekie using his 6-foot-3, 193-pound frame to make life difficult for Jarry.

Geekie’s final goal of the game was the cherry on top, as he made it a three-point game for himself with less than four minutes to play and the Canes already up 5-2. Geekie received a feed from Jordan Martinook and blasted it into the net.

Getting two goals and an assist in your NHL debut is quite the accomplishment, but it wasn’t the only thing that Geekie did well Sunday. He had four blocks, a hit, played over 10 minutes and won 43% of his faceoffs, with a couple of big wins leading directly to goals. Oh, and he also made Rod Brind’Amour smile.

Sunday was one of those cool sports stories that makes everybody feel good, and will hopefully help the Canes build some momentum coming off a big two-win weekend. Geekie had an NHL debut he’ll never forget, and his family was there to see it and join him for a postgame interview.

Geekie also got a pretty cool shoutout on Twitter from one of the Hurricanes’ most notable fans, who is indeed “Freekie for Geekie.”

(Shameless self-promotion time: become a member of the Geekie Squad!)

The old and the new

While Geekie was scoring two goals in NHL game number one, Hurricanes’ veteran Justin Williams was scoring two goals in NHL game number 1,263. Williams was just two years away from his NHL debut when Geekie was born, but on Sunday they played together and both found the back of the net twice.

Williams scored both of his goals in the third period, extending a 3-2 Hurricanes’ lead to 5-2. His first goal came 8:30 into the final frame, as he bodied up a defenseman at the circle and redirected a Haydn Fleury point blast past Jarry in goal.

Williams’ second goal came a little less than seven minutes later, as he got to the goal and took advantage of a misplayed puck by Pittsburgh and a fortunate bounce. Williams collected the puck after a whiff by Brian Dumoulin, slotting it into the net to make it 5-2.

Williams is starting to heat up for the Hurricanes, as Sunday marked his fourth straight game with a goal and just his second multi-goal game of the year. In Saturday’s win over the Islanders, Williams opened up the scoring with a slight deflection on a blast from Fleury.

After scoring just two goals in his first 15 games back with the Hurricanes this season, Williams now has five goals in his last four. He’s looking more and more comfortable on the ice, something that will be huge for the Canes in a tightly contested playoff race down the stretch of the season.

A weekend the Canes had to have

Carolina desperately needed some wins this weekend and that is exactly what the Canes got. Coming off of four straight losses, the Canes faced a tough pair of afternoon games in a back-to-back with the Islanders and Penguins, and they came away with four huge points.

The Canes battled the Islanders Saturday afternoon, and while Carolina certainly didn’t want to give New York the point for going to overtime after a late Islanders’ goal, the Hurricanes made sure to get the two points for themselves after a Trocheck winner.

The goal was Trocheck’s first as a member of the Hurricanes, and it was massive in the playoff race. With the big win Sunday over the Penguins, Carolina now sits in the Eastern Conference’s final wildcard spot, though tied with the Islanders in points.

The race for the two wild card spots in the East will go down to the wire, but time is running out with under a month left in the regular season. Carolina needed to get things back on the right track, and that’s exactly what the Canes did this weekend.

Wrapping Up

The Hurricanes will now move to a pair of much more favorable matchups, as they head to Detroit and New Jersey this week to take on the basement-dwelling Red Wings and Devils.

The Canes have just 15 games left to secure a playoff spot, and they’ll be looking to carry the momentum of two big wins this weekend into Detroit Tuesday night.

And they might be doing so with Petr Mrazek in net, after the Canes reassigned Alex Nedeljkovic to Charlotte this afternoon. Suddenly, things could be looking up for the Canes after entering the weekend teetering on the edge of the playoff line. The release from the team is below.

CANES REASSIGN NEDELJKOVIC TO CHARLOTTE
Goaltender made 28 saves in win at Pittsburgh on Sunday

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Nedeljkovic, 24, was recalled on Feb. 23 and has posted a 1-2-1 record, 3.05 goals-against average and .887 save percentage in four NHL games this season. He has also registered a 15-10-2 record, 2.51 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and four shutouts in 28 AHL appearances with Charlotte in 2019-20 and was named to the 2020 AHL All-Star Challenge. Nedeljkovic won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding goaltender during the 2018-19 season after posting a 34-9-5 record with four shutouts, a 2.26 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. The 6’0”, 201-pound netminder has made six career NHL appearances with Carolina, earning a 2-2-1 record, 2.55 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. Nedeljkovic has registered an 88-45-11 record, 2.57 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 153 career AHL games with Charlotte. The Parma, Ohio, native was drafted by the Hurricanes in the second round, 37th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.