It was far from a perfect win, but sometimes the gritty wins are the best ones. They prove that a team can fight through its own mistakes and carry themselves to two points at the end of the night.
That is what the Canes did last night. They had a slow start on the scoresheet, albeit still a solid one. Frederik Andersen allowed a goal from his former teammate and current friend, Auston Matthews. But that was the last goal he would let in, proving yet again to be a sturdy presence on the ice.
This was Andersen’s third straight game allowing just one goal. He, along with the bottom-six success, was key to the win last night.
Let’s break it down:
Way to Go, Aho
Aho’s point streak continued last night, scoring the Canes opening goal, giving him four goals in five games. It was a deflection from Ethan Bear with 12:58 remaining in the second period. Aho began and ended the play, winning the faceoff to open it up and eventually tipping in Bear’s shot. The assists were credited to Bear and Svechnikov.
The goal tied the game 1-1 and jump started the offense, as the Canes scored three total goals during the second period.
Andersen Makes History
Last week, it was Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s return to Montreal, but Monday night it was all about Frederik Andersen and his first matchup against his former team.
While he had a somewhat sloppy start, he managed to play a very impressive game, ending with just one goal allowed on 25 shots, for a .960 SV%.
“We didn’t get the best start but I think the guys rallied behind me,” Andersen said.
This win isn’t an outlier for Andersen this year, but that doesn’t take away from its significance. Through five wins in five consecutive starts, Andersen holds a 1.60 GAA and a .946 SV%.
He is the first goaltender in franchise history to win all of his first five starts. Not only that, but he is also just the second goaltender in the NHL to go 5-0-0 in his first five starts with a new team. He’s making history for the Canes, and he’s only just begun.
Lorentz Gets his First of the Season
Steven Lorentz scored his first goal of the season with a five-hole beauty off a one-on-one matchup with Rasmus Sandin. He beat him out and put one past Leafs goalie Jack Campbell to give the Canes a 2-1 lead with 10:35 remaining in the period.
Jack Campbell was the Canes biggest roadblock. He was phenomenal in net throughout the game, but specifically during the Canes’ scoreless first period.
“Once you get ahead, the game changes a little bit,” Rod Brind’Amour said.
The goal was Lorentz’s third NHL goal in his second year, and he’s impressed so far with limited ice time.
Nino Nets One, Slavin Gets Redemption
The offense continued to be active in the second, with Niederreiter scoring the third and final goal of the period. It came with 3:11 left and the setup was superb by Jaccob Slavin, who managed to juke out Mitch Marner and dish a beautiful pass for Niederreiter to finish off in the crease.
Slavin had just come off of a rarity for himself, a penalty. He rarely ever takes them, but after this one, he quickly made up for his mistake. This phenomenal play doubled the lead for Carolina, making it 3-1 after the second period.
“Look at the Slavin goal, it’s Nino’s goal, but it’s a great individual effort that leads to the goal,” Brind’Amour said.
The bottom-six was consistent, productive and successful last night, showing the depth of the forwards on the team and the impact that every player has on the game.
Svechnikov: The King of Empty Netters
Andrei Svechnikov closed out the game with an empty netter— something we see a lot. Of his 64 career goals, 12 have been with an empty net.
Regardless of its nature, this was Svechnikov’s fifth goal in five games, putting him at a goal-a-game pace. He also picked up an assist Monday, showing his versatility as a playmaker, a goal scorer, and most importantly a hard worker.
“If you ask me the one thing that stands out, I love the work effort of the group,” Brind’Amour said.
The Canes are now just one of four teams to remain undefeated.
Work to Be Done
There was a lot that could’ve gone better, despite what the scoresheet says. From special teams to puck control, there’s work to be done.
“I think our puck management in the first two periods wasn’t great,” Slavin said. “I think we could clean that up a little bit, especially through the neutral zone. The effort is there. The effort has been there every single night, but there’s definitely some things that we could still tighten up a little bit. Miscommunications in the D-zone, things like that.”
Carolina ended the game with a +2 Corsi and 14 high-danger chances. They allowed 10 high-danger chances from the Maple Leafs. The stats support the result— and the result was very good, but the team acknowledged that there are always places to improve.
Monday night’s game was the first of a four-game homestand for the Canes. The team’s next game is against the Boston Bruins (3-1-0) on Thursday night. The Bruins will likely be without Curtis Lazar, Nick Foligno and Craig Smith, all key contributors.
With Andersen taking the first five starts for the Canes, fans should expect Antti Raanta in net soon. As much as we all wish he could with how well he’s been playing, Andersen cannot remain in net forever, and Carolina needs to get a sense of Raanta’s game sooner rather than later.