The Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up a short home stint Saturday night with a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues, as Brendan Smith scored the game winner late in the third period to get Alex Lyon his first win with the Hurricanes.
Sebastian Aho and Brady Skjei scored the other goals for Carolina, as the Canes battled back after losing the lead early in the third period to win in regulation.
Following the win, Canes’ head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Smith, Aho and Lyon spoke with members of the media.
Here is what they had to say:
On Alex Lyon’s performance: He was huge. He made a lot of big saves, especially on the kill there. There were a couple opportunities they had. It was just big. Especially for him. We’re not sure what we’re getting. He hasn’t played yet for us. It’s a lot going on for him, so it was great to see him perform like that.
On Seth Jarvis’ goals getting taken away: I know. We were just talking about that. It’s unfortunate. What do you say about it? It’s tough luck right now. But again, whether you’re getting those goals or not, that’s really not what’s giving him for me the confidence in playing him. He’s doing other things. He’s been good.
On not wanting an identity of struggling to hold onto leads and on flushing what happened Friday night: I would never have thought anybody would have thought that about us. That didn’t even enter my mind. One game that I can remember ever that that happened. We’re playing two good teams. St. Louis is one of the better teams. They’re going to get their chances and capitalize. I thought we did better tonight in getting back to our game right away after. I certainly wouldn’t have thought we don’t hold onto leads...You’re going to talk about it, but we wouldn’t.
On the depth showing up Saturday: We’ve talked about this. You guys have asked me at length over the course of the season about depth. This is exactly to your point. We’re missing three big, big players out of our group. If you count [Frederik Andersen] not playing tonight, that’s another one. We need guys to step in and make an impact, not just take up space. They’ve got to make an impact, and they did.
On Jordan Martinook doing the little things: That’s a good observation. He had a lot of jump. He was great in that third period. Those were two really big moments in the game, that if you don’t get them what happens? You don’t know what happens. But all of a sudden, we get rolling. He had a big impact on this game.
On this furthering the importance of the next man stepping up: For sure. Every team goes through it. There’s teams that are missing a bunch of guys, and they find a way. Hockey is interesting that way, where you certainly can do that. Not long term. I think it shows up in the long haul. But short term you can kind of, I don’t want to say muscle it out, but you can grind it out with the guys. That’s what we did tonight. It was a good, gutsy effort.
On Brady Skjei: He was really good. He logs a ton of minutes, hard minutes. Him and [Jaccob Slavin]. Again, he was great tonight. I don’t want to say that’s the difference in the game, but when those are playing that many minutes it’s so important. And remember who they are playing against. They are always playing against the other team’s top dogs. Those are hard, heavy minutes that they play.
On having a better third period performance than yesterday’s game: Guys talk in the room that good teams don’t lose two in a row. Obviously it’s a joke, but there’s some merit behind it. When you have a lead going into the third, you want to close that out. Last night, we were a bit slower than what we want to be. It was the worst period of the three and tonight, we came out and had a better period. They came out and had a quick goal, but we didn’t stop coming. We kept the push going and it worked out in our favor. That’s something we’re going to continue to do and get better at. Making sure we play a full three periods. Everybody talks about it in the league and when you can do it, you win most of your games. That’s what we’re striving for. To play a full 60.
On his goal: It was exciting. Anytime you score your first with a franchise, it’s really exciting. You remember almost everything about the play and who made the pass. I remember my first one with the Red Wings and the Rangers and now here. It’s really thrilling, especially with it being a “G-dubs.” It’s exciting. Tony has great vision. We see that on the power play too. He was able to slow everything down. His passes are so perfect. They’re right on your tape, but it’s more so how they are. They’re putting you in a position to make a play and I was able to walk into a slapshot and we had a good screen in front and sometimes they just go in. I was obviously very excited and it’s a moment that I’m never going to forget.
On the timing of his goal: Just the magnitude of the game, especially after the game last night where we blew that lead, to take the lead with that little time left is huge. It adds to that excitement for me and the boys. You could see the emotion on the bench. I had no doubt that the boys were going to close it out at the end and they did a great job of shutting it down. Those are a big two points. They’re a good club over there and they play a very similar style as we do and sometimes you just have to keep going. Roddy calls it the stress game and if you can win that stress game, you’ll ultimately come out on the better side of it. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.
On Alex Lyon: To step in there and play like that against a good club. Made some huge saves. To win games against good clubs like that, you need everybody going and he was definitely one of our best players.
On the team’s defense: There’s a lot of variables there. I think how we play is a team defense. It’s not just the six defensemen — in my mind we have seven really good defensemen on our team — I think it has to do with our forwards coming back, back checking. The way we play is units of five. When we’re playing like that, we’re hard to beat. The reason for that is the whole team though. It’s not just our defense, it’s not just keeping them to the outside. I just touched on the stress part. If we have the puck and we’re getting on them, they’re not making plays. Sometimes the best offense is your best defense. So that’s kind of a similarity there, but if we’re playing in their end, they’re not getting the opportunities. But we, as a D, don’t take credit for it because it’s the whole unit of five.
On getting fully back into game shape: I don’t know if the goal gets me there, to be honest. I think it’s more just time as I keep playing. I’ve been doing this for a long time so I know what to expect and I just want to be able to bring it. I got to watch some guys bring it on a daily basis no matter what they felt like. If they were under the weather or whatnot. I got to learn from great mentors so I try to bring that every time and I was lucky to have those guys to teach me that, ‘Hey, you don’t get to take a shift off.’ You just have to bring it no matter the outcome. That’s what I’ll do, but the goal is awesome. I’m very excited about it and thrilled, but I don’t think that helps my game shape or game legs. I think the more time I play, that’s what will help me get accustomed to the style that we play.
On the “good teams don’t lose two games in a row” quote: It is kind of serious, but at the same time, it’s the NHL. There’s good teams. It happens sometimes where you may lose two in a row, but you try not to. At the end of the day, you see the teams that don’t really lost that many in a row and they end up at the end of the year going for the President’s Trophy. So it’s a bit of a joke because it’s almost inevitable, but that’s what you are striving for. You’re striving to keep going and making sure that you’re getting points even if it’s a tie or an overtime loss, you’re still getting points on the board.
On the importance of not losing another third period: That’s how we want to play. We want to play our best hockey in the third period. They’re a good team and they had a good push there and scored a goal, but it didn’t matter. We just stuck with it and it was a good period overall.
On Seth Jarvis having goals waved off in back-to-back games: It’s two in a row now. It’s a little unfortunate, but he’s in the right spot at the right time and eventually they won’t call him off and he’s going to score.
On Tony DeAngelo’s passing: He can see the ice and especially on the power play. He’s the quarterback there. A lot of plays go through him as he’s the only D there. He brings the puck up the ice and starts all the breakouts. All that stuff goes through him and he’s very good at it. He’s a great player.
On Alex Lyon: He gave us a chance to win the game and that’s all you can ask from a goalie. Happy for the guy. You want to work hard for a guy like that. He’s always in a good mood and a positive guy. Good for him.
On how he is feeling after the game: Good. Normal. I feel like every time I play up here it gets a little easier. Feeling normal on the back end is a normal thing for me.
On being 2-0 in PNC Arena during his career: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the building. It’s a fun place to play though, for sure. Obviously great fan support. The team played awesome tonight. That makes my life a lot better.
On the last three minutes of the game: It wasn’t bad. I was pretty locked in tonight. I don’t want to say it was easy to maintain it, but it was easier than usual. Actually one game in the American League earlier this year I got scored on with like 10 seconds left to ruin a shutout. I’ve been kind of keeping that as a focal point. It was just good practice to think of it.
On if it’s hard to get in the net and see game action after not playing for a while: Yeah, coming up to the NHL is something I’ve battled for a long time. I’m just trying to find my way. I think I’m good enough to play up here. In that sense, it’s just trying not to put too much pressure on yourself. But coming out of last year where I only played six or eight games or something, that was really difficult. But now I can finally start to feel my game rounding back to what it was 24 months ago.
On the message from the coaching staff: They’re awesome. They put everybody, myself included tonight, in positions to succeed every night. I’ve been around some very good coaching staffs, but I would say Rod is as good as it gets. For a guy like me who comes up from the American League here and there, it’s reassuring that I trust him fully. I know that he’s doing what is best for me. It just takes something else off my plate that I don’t have to think about.
On goalie coach Paul Schonfelder: If you look at what Paul has done the last couple years. Obviously if you look at [Alex Nedeljkovic], he had the great run and signed a big deal. Paul and I speak the same language, I guess is the best way I could put it. He’s a really intuitive, intelligent human. I find myself gravitating towards him. As a goalie with a goalie coach, that relationship can be either nonexistent or super strong. As of today, I like him. But who knows if I have a bad practice or something.
On what Schonfelder has helped him with specifically: Paul is good. Goalie coaching is an extremely fickle thing because goalies are fickle beings. I myself am as moody as they come. He knows when to let off the gas, when to step on the gas. That’s really what it’s about. Bouncing from the American League to the NHL, I don’t think there’s a giant difference. A lot of it is confidence. A lot of it is feel, comfortability. He stresses those. He makes you feel good about yourselves. I just like his style a lot. As a 28-year old, I don’t know how much my game is going to change at this point, whether I like it or not. He’s in my corner. Like I said, to trust somebody like that takes another thing off your plate.
On Brendan Smith and on if it is more special getting the first win with a new organization: For sure. You’re trying to prove yourself on a daily basis when you get to a new organization. You’re trying to prove your worth and your value. I was just happy to do that. To talk about [Smith], he’s awesome. He’s a team guy. He scored a big goal, but does the little details right on a daily basis. That sounds cheesy, but it’s a real thing. I think that everyone appreciates that.