The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-5 in an offensive tilt at Nationwide Arena Sunday afternoon.
For the first game of the back-to-back series with the Jackets, James Reimer got his fourth consecutive start, played in his fifth consecutive game.
The Hurricanes also entered the game with a bit of a shuffled lineup. Martin Necas was out after his incident at the end of the Chicago game Thursday and Jesper Fast came in for his first game since the COVID-19 postponements. Morgan Geekie also swapped back in for Steven Lorentz.
Last game against Chicago, Carolina forfeited three power-play goals. So naturally the game plan for the Hurricanes was to stay out of the box.
They then started the game with back-to-back penalties and it was Patrik Laine who lasered home a rocket from the point during the second one to grab the early lead.
It’s kind of an ill-fate that once the Canes had finally been freed from Alex Ovechkin’s power play bombs, Laine joins the Blue Jackets to be able to haunt Carolina.
However, one of the most promising aspects of the Hurricanes has been their bounce backs and quick response and that was put on full exhibit not even 30 seconds after the Columbus goal.
Jake Gardiner pinched into the Columbus zone to prevent a clear and rung it back around behind the net. There Andrei Svechnikov stripped a Blue Jacket defender for the puck and centered it to Sebastian Aho, who hit Brock McGinn backdoor for the tying goal.
Brock McGinn scores on a great pass from Sebastian Aho to tie the game. Andrei Svechnikov makes a great play to steal the puck and make it all happen. 1-1 game in Columbus. pic.twitter.com/J122EXId8c— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 7, 2021
It was McGinn’s second goal in as many games playing on Carolina’s top-line, where he has been a stable presence through the Canes’ multiple absences and injuries.
Carolina seemed to be steadying it game, but it unfurled fast as off a face-off win, Nick Foligno’s knuckler of a shot was tipped by former Hurricane Riley Nash in front to slip past Reimer.
For the second period though, Carolina seemed to rekindle its game. The defense tightened up, not allowing a single shot through the first 14 minutes of the period and the forechecking was strong, leading to a hard-fought goal to tie the game back up at two.
As Columbus netminder Joonas Korpisalo went behind the net to play the puck, Jordan Staal applied the pressure on him and forced an errant clear that was picked off by Ryan Dzingel.
Dzingel sent it back to Staal who fed it up into the slot where Warren Foegele swept it home on his second attempt.
Warren Foegele slams home his own rebound to tie the game at 2-2. Jordan Staal and Ryan Dzingel combine to force the turnover, and then Staal fed Foegele with a quick centering pass. pic.twitter.com/nk5f3LQY10— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 7, 2021
Despite all of that though, the defense broke down and Columbus sprung a 2-on-1 rush which was capped off by Foligno keeping the puck and sniping it home short-side on Reimer.
The first shot the Canes had allowed all period was the one that went in, in a spot where you desperately needed you goalie to make a save.
But the team dug in, as this iteration of the team seems like it always does, and this time the hero was Brett Pesce.
Pesce just ripped a seeing-eye shot from the blueline that found it’s way past Korpisalo, top-corner. It was the first goal by a Hurricanes defenseman this season.
Jordan Martinook won a puck battle, worked it out to Brett Pesce, and Pesce rifles one that deflects off of a Columbus stick and ties the game at 3-3. It's Pesce's first goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/C1VPOblXMt— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 7, 2021
And not long after that, the Hurricanes found a lead of their own. It was the offensive juggernaut Pesce, who generated the goal as he laced up another shot that encumbered Korpisalo with the rebound finding Vincent Trocheck in close for the put back.
Vincent Trocheck cleans up the rebound and gives the Hurricanes their first lead of the game here in the second period. 6th goal of the year for Trocheck. Brett Pesce took the shot, it's his second point of the period. pic.twitter.com/GEDZSDKdxp— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 7, 2021
It was a good sign for Trocheck to be involved as he had left the game earlier in the first period after taking a puck up high in the face.
However, it was less than a good sign for the league. The play was challenged by Columbus for offsides, but after a short review it was deemed a good goal. Carolina got a power play for delay of game and the period ended with about 45 seconds of penalty time remaining.
But when the third period started, it was at 5-on-5. So why?
Turns out the referees messed up bad. Seems that the play actually was offsides, so the NHL called down, had the goal stand, but wiped out the rest of the penalty.
So, the #Canes were in fact offside on Vincent Trochcek's goal. The goal stood, but the remainder of the bench minor penalty assessed to Columbus was wiped off the board. Not sure I totally understand, but that's the explanation of what happened.— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) February 7, 2021
The game was far from over there though, as Columbus stormed back to tie it yet again, this time it was Max Domi one-timing it from an awkward angle off a few quick passes.
But Carolina got a power play opportunity soon after and Dougie Hamilton ripped a slap shot that deflected into the net last off of Staal to take another lead.
And not long after that, the Canes got another to make it a touchdown on Superbowl Sunday. But it sure was an awkward one.
So Hamilton shoots the puck, it hits a Columbus stick right off the bat and flies into the air. David Savard went to glove it down, but it hit his hand and flew back up and then went in past Korpisalo who was trying to catch it before it had hit Savard’s hand.
You know what, just watch it.
This sport is ridiculous. Dougie Hamilton's shot deflects off of a Columbus stick at the blue line, flutters through the air, all the way to the net, and somehow goes in. Hurricanes take a 6-4 lead. pic.twitter.com/DipOArHIrt— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 7, 2021
The Hurricanes couldn’t make it easy from there though as time was winding down, Laine bombed his second goal of the game from the left-circle with under two minutes to play.
The Hurricanes shut it down from their despite another penalty against and claimed the win on the first game of the back-to-back.
The Hurricanes will be back in action tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. for the second game against the Blue Jackets.