It was a homecoming and a revenge game all bundled into one on Saturday night as the Carolina Hurricanes made their first visit to Rogers Place since the offseason trade that saw Warren Foegele join the Edmonton Oilers and Ethan Bear make his way down to Raleigh.
Bear received a warm welcome back to the place he called home as he broke into the league, and then he ended up on the winning side of a 3-1 final score as the Hurricanes extended their winning streak to three games on their five-game Western Conference road trip.
Edmonton hit the ground running, hemming Carolina into their own zone in spurts and creating the lion's share of the scoring chances in the opening minutes. The Oilers’ strong start was brought to a screeching halt at 6:25 of the opening frame, though, when Zach Kassian delivered a late hit from behind on Andrei Svechnikov.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to make that ill-advised hit hurt. A clean zone entry from the combination of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Vincent Trocheck rapidly got the puck to the front of the net, where Aho banked home his own rebound to give the Canes a 1-0 lead.
It was Aho’s third goal in two games and his first point in what would be his fifth consecutive multi-point game.
Carolina started to build their game after scoring on the power play, which nearly led to a Martin Necas grade-A chance, but his stick exploded on a slap shot attempt from the high slot, and the puck went the other way. A Seth Jarvis turnover just inside the Canes blue line gifted Connor McDavid a golden two-on-one chance, but a goal-saving play by Brady Skjei in tight to break up a pass kept the Hurricanes in the driver’s seat going into the second half of the period.
McDavid was a constant force through the final minutes of the first, setting up Evan Bouchard for the Oilers’ best chance of the game to that point, but Frederik Andersen made an aggressive point-blank stop on him. He then shut down a chance from McDavid from the slot just moments later.
Just for fun, McDavid then hit Ethan Bear with a spin move in the final minute of the period, drove to the front of the net, and very nearly finished off a highlight-reel goal, but the puck bounced around, and the Hurricanes escaped the first period with a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes came out with much more force in the second period, and they got the benefit of a low-danger goal by way of a Nino Niederreiter long-range wrister that beat Mikko Koskinen. The big Finnish goalie will want it back, but unfortunately for him, that was not an option, and the Canes had a multi-goal lead. Aho got the lone assist on Niederreiter’s sixth of the season.
Just a few shifts later, the Hurricanes went on the power play thanks to an iffy tripping call on Bouchard, but they couldn't take advantage of the opportunity to extend their lead to three goals.
That missed opportunity proved costly as the Oilers struck back and got their first puck by Andersen at 10:11 of the second period.
A collision at center ice created a counterattack chance for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the former first-overall draft pick sniped a shot right by the blocker of Andersen and just inside of the far post to cut the Carolina lead in half.
The Hurricanes controlled the play through the remainder of the second period, but they weren’t getting the bounces they needed to regain a multi-goal lead.
The fourth line of Steven Lorentz, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Derek Stepan very nearly found the back of the net on several shifts, but a combination of whiffs, backchecks, and great saves from Koskinen kept them off the board in the middle frame and preserved a one-goal game through 40 minutes.
The Hurricanes took their first penalty of the night just after the six-minute mark of the third period and opened the door for Edmonton to try to tie the game. Jaccob Slavin delivered a masterful two minutes of penalty killing, though, blocking shots, disrupting chances, and breaking up zone entries as the Canes successfully killed a Brady Skjei hooking penalty.
The Canes kept living dangerously, though, as Skjei went to the box again at 10:55 and gifted the league’s best power play another opportunity.
The best chance of the sequence came from Zach Hyman, but his bid on a wide-open net missed the mark, and the Hurricanes survived for the second time in five minutes.
The Hurricanes dodged their way around a few more great chances from the Oilers, but the game was put away in a very familiar fashion. An Oilers goalie turned over a puck late in a third period to give up a back-breaking goal.
That’s right, Koskinen went full Ty Conklin and coughed the puck up to Aho at the side of the goal to give the Hurricanes a late two-goal lead.
The Oilers didn’t go away, though. They somehow didn’t score on a shot towards an open net that bounced off the post and right back into the body of Andersen. Then, just moments later, Andersen had to come up with another huge stop to keep the score at 3-1.
A two-on-one chance from Darnell Nurse got snuffed out again by Andersen in the final 30 seconds of the game, and that was the last chance they had.
The finish was hectic, but the Hurricanes held on and picked up a 3-1 win over the Oilers, improving to 19-6-1 on the season and taking over in second place of the Metropolitan Division, at least for the time being.
Andersen was tasked with holding off a later charge, but he was up to the task and stopped 22 of the 23 shots he saw. Aho’s three-point night charged Carolina’s offense again. Dating back to their win in Winnipeg at the beginning of the road trip, Aho has recorded a point on seven of the Hurricanes’ last eight goals scored.
The Hurricanes will look to stay perfect on the road trip on Sunday when they visit the suddenly red-hot Vancouver Canucks.