The Carolina Hurricanes extended their season-opening win streak to three games Thursday night in Montreal, beating the Canadiens 4-1 in the Bell Centre.
The Canes scored two goals in quick succession early in the second period, with Sebastian Aho finishing off a beautiful pass from Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov doing the same with a feed from Martin Necas.
After Montreal made it a 2-1 game on the power play, its fifth of the game, the Canes got an insurance goal straight from the storybook. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, playing in his first game back in Montreal and receiving boos every time he touched the puck, redirected a Brady Skjei shot in for his first Carolina goal. Aho made it 4-1 with an empty net.
Following the win, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Aho, Svechnikov and Kotkaniemi spoke with members of the media.
Here is everything they had to say:
On Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s goal: I thought he had a good game and got rewarded there with a big goal at the time. I’m happy for him
On Kotkaniemi’s response to the boos: That’s tough for anybody, whether you are a young kid or not. You don’t want to hear that. I think he was expecting that kind of reaction. That’s just the way it is. He answered that the best way he could.
On going to the box so many times and on the penalty kill’s strong performance: That’s a good way to twist that. I appreciate that. That was the game right there. We did a nice job. We gave them one. But when you’re in the box that much, that’s not good. We did a heck of a job there. Our killers came up big. Our goalie was big. Let’s be clear, that’s the difference in the game. We can’t take all those penalties and rely on the goalie that much.
On the slow start: The whole team was sluggish early. I kind of expected that. We’ve only played two games. You could just see the pace, and we weren’t there. Montreal, I thought, was very good. They were taking it to us. We kind of got our legs going. And the top line in particular got going as the game went on.
On deciding to challenge for goalie interference: Well you know, goalie interference is always a crapshoot. You just don’t know. But by the letter of the law, he’s in the crease and he bumps the goalie. We just went with that. It’s that simple. It is black and white on that, as far as what I’ve been told. But you’re right, I’ve seen it go a lot of different ways.
On the Vincent Trocheck, Martin Necas and Svechnikov line: They were ok. They had some hiccups. Again, most of our hiccups come from guys trying to do too much. Which is a good thing. They want to score every time. They want to score when the puck is in our end, and that’s where you’ve got to be sometimes a little bit more careful. These guys are really blossoming. Svech is taking another step, but he can’t take the penalties. He’s a very competitive guy. He’s got to know that they’re going to try to get under his skin, and he can’t retaliate. They’re always going to get the guy who retaliates.
On the boos maybe firing up Kotkaniemi: He had a good game today. I’m sure he maybe wanted to score a goal even more just getting those boos. You get some fuel out of that, I feel like. But yeah, he was good. Like I said earlier today, it’s just a matter of time before he gets more comfortable. There were strides forward.
On scoring against his old team (jokingly): Not my old team. But yeah, it felt good. We played pretty good as a line. We had some chances. It was good.
On Andrei Svechnikov’s shot: It’s got to be one of the hardest wrist shots in the league. It’s very, very hard. He likes to use it. It’s good for us.
On if he could sense Montreal getting frustrated: I think we were getting frustrated, to be honest. Especially me. I got those couple of penalties. I probably shouldn’t get them. But yeah, those guys played hard.
On Kotkaniemi’s goal: It was very exciting when he scored that goal. He goes out there every shift and the fans are booing him. It’s very exciting to see him score that goal. It’s going to give him some good confidence. All the guys were excited for that.
On wanting to win this game for Kotkaniemi: Yeah, for sure. He played here, and obviously we want to win for him as well. I think he got way better. It’s hard for him. He changed teams and went to the new system, and he’s spent his whole life playing as a centerman and he’s playing winger right now. Obviously it’s hard. But he’s a star. He’s going to be a star.
On the hot start to the season: It’s another win for us. It’s going to give us more confidence. We’ve got to pull that confidence and just give it our best shot in the next game.
On getting all the boos: It was fun. I feel like it gets you going a little bit when you hear that every time you go onto the ice and touch the puck. I enjoyed that.
On his reaction to that: It was a little funny. I think I laughed a little bit when I stepped on the ice. It’s an unusual situation.
On seeing the puck go in the net: It felt really good. It was a big relief after those first two games. It was a great feeling getting it here, too.
On if he’s feeling a bit more comfortable: Yeah. I think our line had a pretty solid night tonight. We were 5-on-5 pretty good. We took a big step forward, and we’ll just keep building from that.
On if the crowd’s reaction matched his expectations: I didn’t really know what to expect, so I was just open minded seeing what was going to happen. But like I said, it was fun.