It was every bit as chaotic and messy as you could imagine it being.
Let’s just talk about last night.
Bean a Long Time Coming
In his 13th NHL game, Jake Bean scored his first NHL goal, and it was a perfect wrist shot from the point.
Naturally, it was a power-play goal for Carolina’s rookie offensive defenseman, and it gave the Canes a 2-0 lead.
The last few games have brought a great deal of turbulence to Bean’s game. He fared extremely well when the Hurricanes had the benefit of controlling his matchups on home ice, but he’s been exposed a little bit as the team has squared off with some high-octane teams on the road.
His defense, in particular, has shown some holes, but that was to be expected. From the start, he hasn’t been a perfect player, but it seems pretty clear that he just needs to work through some of the growing pains involved in becoming a full-time NHL player.
Much like what Rod Brind’Amour has been saying about Dougie Hamilton, the points and the goals will come for Bean. He has all the talent to play at this level. His defense needs to be the priority, and Bean said last night that he thinks he is starting to come along there.
“The goal is nice,” said Bean. “Points are nice, but I think the confidence is coming from all over the ice. It’s coming from playing against good players and playing solid D and making a good first pass. I’m kind of figuring out my gaps and adjusting to that. As I get more comfortable, that helps my confidence the most.”
The growing pains won’t disappear, but right now, you have to be pretty happy about where he is at, and hopefully, this will be another confidence-building milestone for him to build on.
Blowing a Lead in 120 Seconds
The events of the third period felt eerily similar to Carolina and Florida’s previous meeting in Raleigh last week. The Canes got a 2-0 lead, saw it fizzle away in heartbreaking fashion, and got to the brink of horrible defeat.
This time, though, they came through and truly finished the game.
The overtime period following the Panthers’ goal to make it 3-3 was a pretty big statement from the Hurricanes. They managed to dominate almost all five minutes of the extra frame and had multiple chances to close out the game, but Sergei Bobrovsky stood tall as the Canes refused to let go of the puck.
Martin Necas was his usual mega-fun self during 3-on-3 play, but he didn’t play the hero's role until the shootout.
Martin Necas calls game. Hurricanes beat the Panthers 4-3 in shootout. pic.twitter.com/pRRqCb0CEt— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) February 28, 2021
The Canes closed the game out on a high note, and that’s what will be remembered, but boy, we should really not forget about how the game got to that point.
Over the last week or so, no lead has felt safe for Carolina. After taking a 2-0 lead in the third period, they let Florida gain control. James Reimer let in a pretty rough goal through the five-hole, but the blame shouldn’t be on his shoulders for how that period transpired. It was just another example of this team letting off of the gas in a key situation, a theme that has become all too common lately.
The Panthers are a good team, maybe even a really good team, but the expectations for this Hurricanes team are at the point where they shouldn’t be letting any teams back. They need to find ways to deliver the knockout blow, and that’s what made Brock McGinn’s whiff late in the third period hurt so much.
Brock McGinn whiffs on this 2-on-1 chance, Panthers come right back down the ice to tie the game. That one hurts. pic.twitter.com/SAbqMqbhL5— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 28, 2021
Nino Niederreiter made a fantastic play to undress a world-class player in Aleksander Barkov and send a pass across to McGinn, but the Canes’ winger whiffed on a chance to make it 4-2. As it seemingly always goes, the Cats took the puck, went right back down the ice, and scored the game-tying goal.
It was nice that this time around, the Hurricanes got back to their game in overtime and let their skill win them another game, but this game is growing a bit tiresome.
Speaking of tiresome, can Mistah Svechnikov get a little help out there?
After a stoppage in play in the third period, Svechnikov got punched in the face by three different people.
Not old enough to get that call.gif pic.twitter.com/SbcbaEyifR— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 28, 2021
Just outside the frame, a carnival host is yelling, “Step on up! Step on up! For just two tickets, you can punch this young Russian star in his face with no consequences!” and 15 other Panther players are lining up with various weapons like in the movie Airplane!
It’s been a joke to this point that, like Cam Newton in his days with the Panthers team that those from the Carolinas are more favorable towards, Svechnikov just “isn’t old enough” to get calls. That is clearly said in jest, as he is a player that gets constantly hauled down and whacked at and should be drawing more penalties. Still, it’s getting pretty absurd at this point that he doesn’t get more benefit of the doubt from officials both when he’s getting interfered with and when he barely touches a goalie and, for some reason, gets whistled for interference.
For a league that says they care deeply about head injuries, I’m not sure how you can watch that clip and say, “Yep, looks good.”
The Funniest Moments
Let’s end things with some things that should make you laugh.
After Vincent Trocheck got kicked out of the faceoff circle (and argued as he does), former Hurricane Eetu Luostarinen got a little too antsy for Necas’ liking in the faceoff circle.
The fact that Luostarinen is a former teammate of Necas makes the interaction a lot better. Necas also won the faceoff, which feels like the fitting conclusion to this story.
I mentioned earlier that the Panthers really don’t like Svechnikov’s face, and refs don’t like defending Svechnikov’s face, so what happened after Patrik Hornqvist’s shootout goal felt like fate.
After tying the shootout at 2-2, Hornqvist was either unaware of how close he was skating to the Canes bench or intentionally got too close for comfort. Oh, but Svechnikov was due up next to shoot for Carolina, and some mistakes were made as he jumped over the boards.