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About Last Night: Unlikely Heroes

Lifted by the goaltending of Alex Lyon and a late goal from Brendan Smith, the Hurricanes improved to 11-2-0 on Saturday night.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the course of an 82-game NHL season, you need some unlikely heroes to step up and win you some games. Last night, that’s exactly what happened as the Carolina Hurricanes sunk the St. Louis Blues with bookend daggers in a 3-2 win at PNC Arena.

From offense to defense, to a standout rookie, to a goalie who really owed one to the Hurricanes, it was an interesting hockey game.

Let’s talk about last night.

Jarvis Continues to Impress

Any doubts about Seth Jarvis’ NHL readiness have all but disappeared at this point.

Against the Blues, Jarvis turned in another standout performance, and in a just world, he would have had his second NHL goal. But, instead, he was robbed of a goal by a premature whistle during a delayed penalty sequence – and he was the one who drew it.

He did help contribute directly to the team’s first goal, though. After Andrei Svechnikov’s neutral zone steal, Jarvis drove down the middle of the ice, created a passing lane, and allowed Sebastian Aho to find a pinching Brady Skjei to make it a 1-0 game early.

Analytically, last night was probably his worst NHL game to date (which isn’t saying much given that he’s been outstanding every single night, but he still managed to stick out on almost every shift of the game.

Whenever he steps out on the ice, it feels like he does something that catches you off guard. He’s that kind of player. Your eyes are just always glued to him.

No one knows what will happen in the coming days or weeks, but it feels like a lock that Seth Jarvis will be a Hurricane for the rest of this season. He has a remarkably bright future and present.

Defensive Bookmarks

Saturday night was far from Carolina’s most dominant outing of the season. They needed some bounces to go their way, which they did, and some of those decisive moments came from unlikely heroes.

Skjei had gotten close to finding the back of the net on multiple occasions this season, including when his bid for the game-winning goal in Tampa Bay got called off. But that stands to reason, as he’s been far more aggressive in the offensive zone in 2021-22. He finally made good on his opportunities last night.

His sharp-angled bullet went right over Joel Hofer’s shoulder and gave the Hurricanes their quickest lead of the season.

Fast forward almost an entire game’s worth of in-game time, and you’ll find Brendan Smith winning the game on a long-range dart.

Now, Smith has only played in four games this season and didn’t even sniff the ice until Brett Pesce’s injury, but his biggest moment as a Cane in the early going delivered them a big win on home ice after a tough loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

This has been a common theme for the Hurricanes, though. It’s not always the same two or three guys playing the role of hero. It’s truly been a team effort for this group to reach 11-2-0.

There’s a whole lot of buy-in into Rod Brind’Amour’s system, as there’s been in every year of his tenure, but unlike every other year, Brind’Amour’s team is off to an 11-for-13 start to the season.

“We’ve talked about this,” said Brind’Amour after the game. “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.”

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle

Alex Lyon slept pretty well last night.

In place of Antti Raanta, the 28-year-old journeyman goalie made his Hurricanes debut, and he was rock solid.

Lyon allowed just two goals on 29 shots and earned the win.

“He was huge,” Brind’Amour said. “He made a lot of big saves, especially on the kill there. There were a couple of 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.”

It was a very impressive outing for Lyon, who had to face 23 shots in the final two periods of play after only seeing six shots in the first period.

Surprisingly enough, Lyon isn’t short on connections with the Hurricanes. His third NHL win came against the Hurricanes all the way back on March 17, 2018, wherein he also allowed just two goals in PNC Arena. The only source of Carolina offense in that game came from the Sebastian Aho-Jordan Staal-Teuvo Teravainen line.

Slightly more recently, in May of 2018, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms beat the Charlotte Checkers by a final score of 2-1 in the AHL playoffs, behind a 94-save outing from Lyon. The quintuple overtime game was the longest in AHL history.

Three and a half years later, Lyon made up for his game-robbing effort in the AHL from years past.

While his team did play in and win the longest game in AHL history, his 94 saves weren’t enough for a league record of his own. No, that record still belongs to Michael Leighton and his 98-save outing with the Albany River Rats about ten years early. And, of course, the River Rats were then the AHL affiliate of the Hurricanes.