There was a time years ago that a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets resulted in a strangely endearing brand of firebrand hockey, the two teams trading chances at either end while the goaltenders struggled to stop beach balls. Then, once John Tortorella got his hands on the Jackets, the series predictably degenerated into defensive slugfests that got no one hyped.
Based on their three games this season, it looks like the pendulum is swinging back toward the zaniness that this series was once known for.
Following a lackadaisical start, the Hurricanes cranked up the afterburners, scoring six unanswered goals on their way to a 7-3 win over the Blue Jackets in their first home game following a six-game swing on the road. Brock McGinn matched his career high with a four-point night, and Teuvo Teravainen matched it with a goal and three assists of his own.
But it sure didn’t look like it was going to go in that direction early. On the first shift of the game, Jack Roslovic, who has terrorized the Hurricanes to the tune of four points in his first three games against Carolina this season, undressed Warren Foegele and set up Patrik Laine, who fed Cam Atkinson for a tap-in.
Five minutes later, Dougie Hamilton fell asleep and allowed Boone Jenner to outmuscle him at the front of the net, giving the Jackets a 2-0 lead. The Hurricanes at this point looked like they were doing their best to prove for the umpteenth time Paul Maurice’s maxim about teams returning from a long road trip struggling on their first game back.
But the Hurricanes suddenly found their missing mojo. Sebastian Aho put the Hurricanes on the board, then after Kevin Stenlund restored Columbus’ two-goal lead with a baseball-bat out of midair, Carolina started coming in waves, scoring six straight goals.
It started with Jordan Staal knocking home his own rebound, extending his goal streak to three games by making it a 3-2 game with 1:28 to go in the first. The goal was assisted by Jake Bean, who recorded his first NHL point on the play.
Then the Hurricanes really erupted in the second period, scoring twice in 30 seconds to swipe the lead in the blink of an eye. Noted sniper McGinn, who now has six goals in his last eight games, tied it 1:30 into the second off a perfect Teravainen pass, then Teravainen himself gave the Hurricanes the lead before the period was two minutes old.
That goal, with a bit of luck, could have actually been a hat trick goal for the Finnish winger, after he whiffed on a Jake Gardiner pass when the game was still 1-0 and then had a goal wiped off the board by an offside that occurred nearly a minute earlier.
Even noted New Guy Cedric Paquette, fresh off a scenic 16-hour drive from Ottawa to Raleigh, got into the act, flattening Seth Jones along the penalty box glass in the second period and earning appreciative stick taps from his new teammates. He asserted himself again at the end of the second, when Jackets captain Nick Foligno dished out a couple of face washes and Paquette responded in kind.
Late in the period, the Teravainen Show continued with the Hurricanes on their first power play of the game. This time, it was Nino Niederreiter who was the beneficiary, poking home a rebound off a Teravainen shot. Tortorella had seen enough of starter Joonas Korpisalo by this point, and pulled him in favor of Elvis Merzlikins to start the third period.
McGinn, not content to be upstaged by Teravainen’s passes, tried his own five minutes into the third after he pickpocketed a defender at the red line, but his pass for Teravainen was behind him. Aho also had a perfect chance to give the Hurricanes a three-goal lead while killing a Jordan Martinook hooking penalty, but he couldn’t finish even though Merzlikins thought it had slipped through his pads.
Don’t you worry, though; McGinn wasn’t done. Not long after that power play ended, Teravainen dug the puck out from the corner and fed Bean at the top of the slot, whose shot was tipped in by the red-hot McGinn. The play was again challenged for offside, but this time the goal was allowed to stand because there was no conclusive angle showing that Aho was offside on the zone entry.
And, like clockwork, the Hurricanes cashed in on the ensuing power play. Andrei Svechnikov fired from the near circle, and the puck took a double deflection off the sticks of Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal to beat Merzlikins and kick the extra point. The Jackets had a chance on a partial breakaway for Foligno seconds later, but he fired it high - a feat he repeated just a minute later.
But the Jackets were spent, and following a shaky start, the Hurricanes dominated, recording their tenth win of the season. It’s the fastest they’ve reached double-digit wins since the Cup-winning season of 2005-06, when they started 12-2-1.