The Hurricanes picked up another wild win Saturday night, knocking off Dallas 4-3 in the shootout
Before the game, there was news that Ryan Dzingel was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Cedric Pacquette and Alex Galchenyuk. While the quarantine rules are fuzzy, that opened up a place in the lineup for Steven Lorentz. Lorentz has looked great this season with one point in five games. He is a Rod Brind’Amour player who doesn’t care about points. Lorentz reminds me of Warren Foegele in his rookie year, just hungry to be part of the lineup every night. After the game, Brind’Amour addressed the roster change.
It was great to see that Martin Necas’s injury was not as severe as we first thought. Necas returned to action and played his first game in nine days and looked like he was back to normal. When Necas is on the ice it looks like everyone else is skating in quicksand. He is definitely a game changer on the ice. There are rare players who operate at different speeds and you can see that Necas is one of them. He just hasn’t been able to turn that game-changing speed into instant goals, but you can see the defense struggle to keep pace.
Down but Not Out
While this team has seemed to struggle in the middle frame, the Canes came out on top last night. The first goal went to the Stars just six minutes into the second period, and m0mentum was certainly on the Stars’s side, as they were outshooting Caroline 19-12 at the time.
However, it would not be a Rod Brind’Amour team if they couldn’t turn it around. With just four minutes left in the period, the Canes would not only find their way back in the game, but they would also be leading it going into the second break.
The Canes had a pair of first-time goal scorers for the season in Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen, who both converted on shots to give the Canes the lead going into the second intermission.
The Canes’ special teams were giving them the edge all night from the power play that scored the third goal to the penalty kill that put the Canes on defense multiple times.
The downside of the Canes’ aggressive forecheck is the fact that an active stick can lead to offensive zone penalties, which the team is all too familiar with. The good news is that in the past two seasons, Carolina is one of the most prolific shorthanded teams. Tonight, they handed their first two penalty kills well, but late into their third, Sebastian Aho’s mistake let Dallas back into the game
With just under a minute left in the game, skating into the offensive zone, he got a little too cute with the puck and left a drop pass at the blue line. The Stars were able to pick up the loose puck and spring a five on two rush that tied the game. As a fan, I love the “live by the sword die by the sword” mentality but at a certain point, you just have to play smart. With a minute left you have to get the puck deep and live to fight another day. Lucky for Aho it didn't change the outcome of the game, and only gave Dallas an extra standings point.
Oh Captain my Captain
Vincent Trocheck had a lot of words before the game to explain Jordain Staal’s importance with the team. This year we have seen more than ever what he can bring when he is not THE guy on the team. I have been writing for years that he is the most underrated defensive center.
Trocheck on Staal: "He's definitely underrated. He's so steady. You notice how big of an impact he has in the game when you don't have him in your lineup. He's such a pivotal player. He plays in all situations. To have him out of your lineup definitely hurts."— Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53) February 12, 2021
But as Brind’Amour has mentioned, he is always in the right place, he just hasn’t had the luck of pucks going in. Last night he had another moment where the puck luck/creation worked out for him.
Staal now has six points in his last four games, which includes the Canes' last goal against the Stars. He not only shows up on the scoresheet, but he ends the night with a 57% faceoff win rate including the overtime faceoff which always leads into a prolonged Aho possession.
Alex Nedeljkovic has had promise for years, but once he gets in the net everyone is quick to point out his shortcomings. The facts are, he is a small goalie who has to play aggressive angles to cut off goals. Think Petr Mrazek on steroids. He has to commit to the initial shot and rely on an acrobatic save on the rebound, that’s what you do when you are undersized. What he does do well is play the puck. He is incredible to watch when he gets out of the crease to make a move.
While this makes many uncomfortable, he clearly as the ability to start the breakout from below the goal line. One goalie that has done that well that is familiar with Canes fans is Braden Holtby, he has always been able to go from goal line to opposite blue line and spring players. It is a unique and fun ability that he has, do not ruin it by thinking he needs to stay in the crease all the time.
While we all know for years that the Canes have struggled in the shootout, it was incredible to see the young goaltender thrive against the opposition’s best players. Ned was a perfect three for three in the shootout, including being perfect in overtime. That will do a lot for confidence when it comes to a young goalie in the league.