The Carolina Hurricanes got their toughest test of the season on Wednesday night in Chicago, but three unanswered goals and a huge late penalty kill helped guide them to a 4-3 road win.
The win improved the team to 9-0 on the year, which has them tied for the second-best start to a season in NHL history.
Rod Brind’Amour, Derek Stepan, and Seth Jarvis spoke to the media after the win. Here’s what they had to say.
On the penalty kill: Obviously, it was the game. I think we killed eight minutes in the third. That’s way too much to give that team. They had their looks, but our goalie was good. Freddie made some saves. I thought we had some huge blocks. That was obviously a crucial point of the game and they came up big.
On his overall assessment: We weren’t great in the first two periods, that’s for sure. Felt like we were just kind of going along with the game. Certainly weren’t playing our game the way we needed to. It showed because we were down going into the third period. But we got to it for the majority of that third period — except for the penalties. I mean the high-sticking one was a tough one. I didn’t like the Ian Cole one. I thought he made a great box out on a shot tip, but you’ve got to kill them when you get in those situations and that was the difference in the game. Overall, it was a good win, but it wasn’t a great first two periods for us.
On what it tells him about this group: It was a good response. We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough one and like I said, it wasn’t a terrible first couple of periods. We kind of gave them the second one on a weird play and really even the first one I didn’t like how we handled that, but the guys dug in. That’s all I can tell you. You’re not always going to come out with those types of results, but it was a great effort at the end for sure.
On the fourth line: They were really good. Solid the whole game. I get a little harsh. We weren’t that bad, we just weren’t good. We were just going along with it, but they were good. That line was solid and it was great to see Jarvis get that one. Got kind of lucky that it went in, but a hell of a job to take off and get some separation on the d-man. Really happy for the kid.
On Frederik Andersen locking in after the third goal: Well you couldn’t fault him on any of the goals. Kind of left him out to dry on those ones, but like I said, the penalty kill — and he’s a huge part of that — at the end of the game was the difference. He made that one save that was lights out. He’s been great.
On Sebastian Aho: He was really good. Especially on the kill I thought he was exceptional. He had a couple of chances at the end there where he had a grade-A. He was also instrumental on the game-winning goal. Just buying time holding onto it and he made a great play. Can’t say enough good things about him. He’s tremendous and I’m very fortunate to get to coach this kid.
On upcoming games against Florida and Tampa Bay: Obviously, Florida is as good as they come and has been for a bit here. We played them a lot last year so we know what we’re getting there. That’s going to be a tough one. We know that. You look forward to it too. We have some injuries now that I’m a little bit concerned about. That’s going to be interesting, how that all shakes out. But the games just keep coming and they’re always tough.
On Brett Pesce’s status: Well he didn’t come back after the second so I’m not sure. Haven’t even found out. I know he played a couple shifts, so that’s good, but he didn’t come back in the third. We’ll have to see on that one.
On Seth Jarvis’ goal: Twenty years from now, he’s going to be telling someone about that and there’s probably going to be a little different finish on it, but for a young kid to come in and have awesome memories from his first game with his family there and then this game, scoring on Marc-Andre Fleury, that’s a pretty special first goal and a big one at that. This kid’s done everything we’ve asked him to and I’m happy for him.
On Jarvis’ first NHL goal and the importance of the fourth line: It’s a goal that says a lot about the talent he has. His ability to skate and his breakaway speed. That’s rare to find. He makes a great play and a good read. It started in his own end, which is a big part of this thing, and he was able to make offense out of it. High-level talent and a high-level goal. Me, [Lorentz], and [Jarvis], our job is to do that. When things aren’t going well, that our line is always on and always doing things the right way to build momentum so our big boys can take over.
On how the Hurricanes clawed back and won: Throughout a season, you have to be able to win in a bunch of different ways. Tonight was a different way to win a hockey game. I thought that we didn’t have our A stuff for half the game. Give the Blackhawks credit, they were playing hard. We weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be, but we came out and competed hard in the third period. We got two good goals, and the biggest part of the game was the four-minute kill with five minutes left. Those four killers did a fantastic job.
On what was being said on the bench during that late penalty kill: Just gotta dig in. It’s the penalty killers’ jobs to make sure that, in situations like that, they come up big. That’s exactly what they did. That’s a very good power play over there. Give those guys a lot of credit who hung in there. And the most important thing in a penalty kill is our goaltender, and when he needed to make some saves, he made some giant ones there at the end. That’s what good teams do.
On if DeAngelo’s assist was an intentional one-touch pass or a deflection: I’m going to give Tony all the credit in the world. He totally saw me, and he meant to pass it. You might have to ask him and he can tell you the real truth, but I’m going to say it was a set pass.
On his offense starting to come along: I said it in between periods, but my game is coming. I’m getting more and more comfortable in the system. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the guys. I really like the direction I’m going. I want to be able to provide that in the role that I’m in and be able to do that on a nightly basis and be consistent with it. It takes hard work and two really good linemates. Obviously, [Jarvis] has been fun to be with, and I hope the kid likes me.
On his excitement after scoring his first NHL goal: I was super excited. Last game against Arizona, I came really close and it went off of the d-man’s foot. It’s nice to get one tonight, especially against Marc-Andre Fleury. I grew up watching him, grew up idolizing him, so to get one against him means a little more.
On what he’ll remember most from this moment: Like I said, it being on Marc-Andre Fleury and it being in Chicago, it’s an iconic rink, so it’s fun to do it here. And doing it with my linemates. Derek Stepan and Steven Lorentz are two great players and I wouldn’t have the success I’ve had without them.
On Brind’Amour’s message to the team between the second and third periods: Just that we have to get back to our game plan. I think we got away from it for a little bit. We strung a couple of good shifts together and then we’d have an iffy one, so it’s tough to get a little bit of momentum. He said to just keep it simple and stick to the game plan and sometimes you have to pull out a gritty win.
On if his Kucherov-like goal was on purpose or just an accident: Well, for the sake of this, I’m going to say it was on purpose, but I can’t say that very confidently.
On the late penalty kill: That won us the game. We got into a little bit of penalty trouble. Unfortunately, we got that four-minute penalty there with four or five minutes to play. A lot of stuff can happen, then it went to a 6-on-4. The guys made huge blocks, Freddie a couple of big saves. It was a really gutsy effort by those guys.