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Reimer, Trocheck shine in Canes’ exhibition loss

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There was plenty of good and bad to take from the Canes’ first game in 141 days.

Carolina Hurricanes v Washington Capitals Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The Hurricanes played their first game in 141 days Wednesday, taking on the Washington Capitals in their lone exhibition contest before the postseason starts. The 3-2 loss was a bit of a mixed bag, with plenty of good and bad to take away.

First and foremost, the team got through the game healthy. Despite going just 1 for 5 on the power play (a 5-on-3 goal from Teuvo Teravainen), the Canes looked good on the man advantage. The penalty kill went 4 for 5. Vincent Trocheck scored the team’s other goal, and played very well. Fighting for a roster spot, Haydn Fleury looked good with a +1 and shot on goal in 15:44.

After coming in for Petr Mrazek about halfway through, James Reimer was outstanding, stopping all nine shots he faced with some strong saves mixed in to make a good case for the game one nod.

There was some general sloppiness, particularly in a second-period lull, but that’s probably to be expected after 141 days off. Discipline will definitely need to be a focus after the team gave the Capitals five power plays; that was a major issue in the regular season series with the team’s next opponent.

The Canes got the game’s first power play just a few minutes in, and while it didn’t cash in, the man advantage looked sharp, zipping the puck around and generating a couple good looks.

Not a minute after the Caps killed the Orlov penalty, the Canes’ kill took the ice as Joel Edmundson took a seat for interference, his first of two penalties. The kill looked strong and aggressive for most of it, but, after the Canes had three killers caught in the offensive zone, Washington went to work.

After Alex Ovechkin hit the post off a two-on-one rush, the Canes had trouble resetting, and Ovechkin blasted a shot past Mrazek from his “office” to make it 1-0 with just a few seconds left on the power play 8:27 into the game.

The Canes wasted little time tying the game; after a point shot by Jake Gardiner leaked through Holtby, Trocheck knocked in the rebound. It was originally ruled that the net was off the moorings, but a video review revealed Nic Dowd knocked the net off intentionally, making it a good goal.

The first period continued to see loose play defensively as Washington answered quickly, and, left unmarked in front of the net, Evgeny Kuznetsov finished off a tic-tac-toe play from Orlov and Ovechkin to make it 2-1. The play started as the Canes failed to break the puck out of the defensive zone.

Ryan Dzingel had two great chances to tie it in the opening minutes of the second period, but had one go through the crease and one hit the post.

After some back and forth through the first 12 minutes and change of the second and more good chances for the Canes, Tom Wilson set up Ovechkin for his second of the game off the rush after a bad pinch by Jake Garinder in the offensive zone. That was the end of Mrazek’s game, as Brind’Amour made the planned switch to Reimer.

The Canes got a chance to go to work with a nearly full 5-on-3 power play early in the third, and cashed in. After some slick puck movement, Sebastian Aho feathered a cross-ice pass to Teravainen that his fellow Finn one-timed home to make it a 3-2 game.

Reimer made a couple really sharp saves about halfway through the period to keep the Canes within a goal, and another glove save on the penalty kill to stop Ovechkin from his prime shooting spot.

The Canes pulled Reimer for an extra skater with about a minute left, and got one last power play with 26 seconds to go, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Off ice notes:

The game presentation has been impressive, between the individuals team’s ads on the end boards, and the other touches of home, such as the Canes’ power play montage playing (though hearing “raise up” in an empty arena” was definitely weird. Being able to hear skates and sticks scraping and player communication through the enhanced mics is a nice touch, and watching a game without fans really wasn’t as weird as I expected.

There’s no replacing John Forslund, but Mike Mainscalco did a very good job with the play-by-play duties. His knowledge of the team and game shines through and his calls made for a good viewing experience. Few people are more deserving of an opportunity like this than Maniscalco, and him stepping in is definitely a silver lining of the Forslund situation.

Up next, it’s the real thing, as the Canes open their Stanley Cup Qualifier series with the New York Rangers Saturday at noon. Stay tuned for more analysis from this game tomorrow morning.