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Canes dismantle Kings in overwhelming effort

The Carolina Hurricanes dominated the Los Angeles Kings on home ice Saturday night, winning 5-1.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi maintains possession of the puck during the game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in PNC Arena.
Kaydee Gawlik

It certainly didn’t look like the Carolina Hurricanes were the team playing with five AHL call-ups Saturday night in PNC Arena, as the Canes utterly dominated the Los Angeles Kings in an overwhelming 5-1 victory.

The Canes, still missing six starters in COVID protocol, jumped on the Kings early and often, putting five past L.A. for the second time this season. Jesperi Kotkaniemi stayed hot and got the scoring started in the first minute, with Jesper Fast, Brett Pesce, Teuvo Teravainen and Jack Drury all notching goals as well.

The Kings, who got a lone goal from Blake Lizotte late in the second period, couldn’t do much at all to stop the Canes, as Jonathan Quick saw five goals go past him in a losing effort. Frederik Andersen was fantastic in the Canes’ net, not to be overlooked with a 32-save effort.

As is so often the case, special teams made a big difference for the Canes Saturday night. Carolina went 2 for 5 on the power play, while the Kings were held scoreless in three attempts with the man advantage.

When the Kings and Canes played in Los Angeles in November there were three goals in the game’s first five minutes, and things got off to an even Faster start Saturday night in PNC.

The opener came just 37 seconds into the game (an ode to Andrei Svechnivkov?), as Kotkaniemi made a heady to play to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. Fast laced a fantastic pass to Brady Skjei, who fired a shot on Quick.

The puck got lost under Quick but wasn’t secured by the Los Angeles goalie, and Kotkaniemi was privy to that information. He poked his stick in under Quick and got a piece of the puck, slotting it in for his seventh goal of the season. The primary assist from Skjei was his 100th in the NHL.

The Kings unsuccessfully challenged the goal for the puck being played by a high stick, handing the Hurricanes a power play in the opening minute of play.

Carolina made the most of it, as Fast proved faster than Quick with a great redirection on a point shot from Jaccob Slavin. Andrew Poturalski got the secondary assist, his second in as many games with the Hurricanes this season.

The Canes and Kings both killed off penalties during the remaining 18 and a half minutes of the first period, as both teams got some chances but neither could get another goal. Poturalski and Fast particularly had a pair of great looks for the Canes that nearly made it 3-0.

That second Los Angeles penalty came as Sean Durzi laid a big blind-side hit on Martin Necas, who took quite some time to get up off the ice. Necas initially tried to stay in the game but was motioned off the ice by the officials and made his way down the tunnel. It was announced during the first intermission that Necas would not return with an upper-body injury.

After the Kings successfully killed of an early second-period penalty, the Hurricanes made it 3-0 thanks to Pesce’s second goal of the season. Pesce threaded a shot from the point through a ton of traffic, which included a good screen from Drury. The goal was initially credited Pesce and then changed to Drury, but was given back to Pesce during intermission.

The Canes weren’t done yet, as a picture-perfect power-play goal made it 4-0 in the middle period. Carolina possessed the puck in the offensive zone, showing off some phenomenal puck movement that ultimately led to Tony DeAngelo teeing one up for Teravainen, who rifled a wrister home past Quick.

The Kings finally found the scoreboard later in the second, as Lizotte got a fortunate neutral-zone bounce and then worked Brendan Smith skating into the offensive zone to set up a shot. He sniped one past Andersen to make it a 4-1 game. ‘

The Canes came out of the second break absolutely buzzing, overwhelming the Kings entirely on the ice. It paid off late in the period with a goal, as Drury undoubtedly got his the second time.

Derek Stepan did some good work in the neutral zone to get a puck towards Drury, who collected it in space and unleashed a deadly snipe past Quick into the top, top corner of the net for his second goal in as many NHL games.

The Canes will now take an unexpected short break, with both Sunday’s game against the Predators and Tuesday’s game in Boston postponed. Next up for Carolina will be a trip to Ottawa Thursday night.