The Hurricanes bounced back with a dominant effort in a 3-0 win over Columbus Tuesday night, thanks in large part to Alex Nedeljkovic’s second career shutout and goals from Jesper Fast, Brady Skjei and Martin Necas. Dougie Hamilton also extended his point streak to a franchise record (for a defenseman) 12 games.
Fast, Hamilton, Nedeljkovic and Brind’Amour spoke to the media after the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On being happy with the first three games against Columbus: I felt really good about our games. We’ve had one iffy period out of the whole set so far. That was in the first game, first period. Tonight was a solid effort. We got some nice plays that you don’t always cash in, but tonight they did. I thought for two periods especially, we just controlled the game and did what we had to to win the game.
On if Alex Nedeljkovic is earning more games with his play: For sure. I mean, how do you not? He’s played great. Tonight again, he didn’t get tested too much tonight, which was awesome for us, but when he did, he looked really good. I think the other asset that he brings is that puck-handling ability, that occasionally when we’re under stress, he can get the puck out. That’s a big, big deal, especially in today’s game with how heavy forechecks are in the NHL. He’s definitely putting in a good light here.
On Nedeljkovic not seeing much action and that being tougher: You’ll hear that occasionally. I don’t think it was so bad that he didn’t have the occasional shots. Those games where you dominate and you don’t give up any action in your end, those are probably tough to do it. But he’s had both. He’s had nights where he’s had a lot of action and done well, and he’s been limited and been sharp too. That’s what you have to do if you want to play in this league.
On what he was most satisfied with: I think just the response right away. I felt really good about our game for two periods. We didn’t give up much at all. I think when you can play like that, you’re not always going to win, but you’re certainly giving yourself a great chance. The other part, I thought was, we had a lot of guys contribute. Everybody played well. That’s a good sign.
On Dougie Hamilton breaking Mark Howe’s franchise record: I didn’t even know that. I’m behind the eight ball a little bit on that, so that’s my fault for not even knowing that. But you mentioned Mark Howe, a phenomenal player, one of the best defesnemen in the NHL. If not for back injuries, that guy would have been one of the elite of the elite. It’s pretty special. But we know Dougie can put up points. He played a really good defensive game tonight, too. He was really solid. When he can play like that, that’s why we talk about him as being one of the better defenders in the league.
On two days off: The boys will have one day off. And then we’ll have a good practice, which is nice. We haven’t had a really good practice in a long time, so we’ll be able to do that. It’s not great that we have two days on the road, it’s not like being at home. … But that’s just how it is.
On getting the result today after playing well but losing the first two games of this four-game stretch: Yeah, for sure. Like you said, I think we played pretty good hockey. Tonight we played a complete, 60-minute hockey game. We were on the right side. We were working hard and doing the right things out there. A really good game from all of us.
On a good practice from Sunday carrying over into a good game Monday: Even though we lost in overtime, I thought that we played pretty good. We had a little fun before we left for Columbus here. So, I think it carried over, like you said, for this game. You’re right.
On Alex Nedeljkovic’s performance: He’s been great the whole year. I didn’t know much about him before this season, but he’s been good every game he’s been in the net. I’m really happy for him to get this shutout.
On playing in front of such a confident goalie who is good at playing the puck: Of course it makes it easier for everyone. He’s really good with the puck. Every dump he’s on the puck and helping the D to break it out. It makes it a lot easier for all of us.
On the mindset after some missed opportunities early in the game: The mindset was always to play the right way for 60 minutes. Even though we didn’t score, we’ve got to keep playing the right way. I feel like we did that for the full 60 minutes, and it gave us the two points tonight.
On Brady Skjei getting on the scoresheet: He’s been having a lot of shots. He’s a really good two-way player. He’s really good in the defensive zone, but he can also play good offense. I’ve seen it before, and I think they’re gonna come a lot more now that the first one is out of the way.
On playing in front of a goalie as aggressive as Nedeljkovic: It’s awesome. I think Ned plays the puck so well. He apologizes to us when he messes up a little bit, but we tell him ‘just keep doing it. It helps us so much.’ He’s so good at it. It’s been awesome to have him and have him playing so well.
On breaking Mark Howe’s franchise record for point streak by a defenseman: I don’t think about it too much. I’m just trying to take it day by day and one game at a time. What a cliche, but with this schedule right now it’s just focus for one game and take a little break the next day and gear up for the next game. I’m trying to do that. You don’t spend too much time thinking about the last game or the last games for sure, but just try to stay in the moment and keep playing well and all that stuff. It’s obviously pretty cool, for sure. I definitely know about it. We’ll see if I can keep it going.
On getting the win heading into a two-day break: That’s true, it’s huge. I think it will definitely help our mood tonight and tomorrow into the practice. It will give us a little bit more energy for sure. We’ll definitely enjoy a little bit of a break and then get right back on it. It should be good. It’s going to be weird to have two days between.
On his record being a little more special because it was held by someone as good as Mark Howe and has stood since 1980: It’s pretty cool. I didn’t know the Carolina Hurricanes were around in 1980. I’m just kidding. But no, it’s cool. I’m lucky to play with great players making good plays. You can see that like the goal today. I’m just trying to make plays with good players, like I said, and pucks are going in right now. Hopefully it’s helping the team win. It was good today. The last couple days not so good with our shootout and overtime losses. But it’s definitely been a good stretch for us, and hopefully we can keep that going.
On if this shutout is even a little more special than his first with it coming in his home state of Ohio: I don’t know if you can ever top the first one. The first one only happens once. I don’t know if that’s even the right way to say it. It is special. I had family in the stands tonight, so it was nice for them to be here and actually see it. Hopefully I can grab them for a quick second here after the game and reminisce in the moment and take this all in.
On his game not changing no matter what else is going on: Well that’s the thing. It can’t change. It doesn’t matter what’s happening around you. You can’t control those things. The only thing I can control is how I get ready for games, how I prepare for practices. You get the odd bounces, you have those nights where you “forget” how to make saves. If you do the right things coming in and you’re just consistent with how you do things, it shows. I think tonight, just not myself, but all around I thought we did a great job. We didn’t really give them much of anything. It really made my night kind of easy, not having to make too many high-danger saves.
On the defense in front of him: We were awesome. We were top to bottom, start to finish. We were taking it to them. You couldn’t have drew it up any better. We came out that first period and were all over them, kind of similar to the way they came out the first game of this little series here. I think they put the first 10 shots on us in that first game and kind of gave us a little punch in the mouth.
I think we came back and kind of did the same thing here tonight. It didn’t stop after that. We kept going. It was wave after wave. Every line was playing in their end. The first line, if you want to call it that we’ve got three or four of them, but [Sebastian Aho], [Martin Necas] and Nino [Niederreiter}, they were dominant. I thought the three of them really stood out tonight.
On if there was a period of time where the team needed to get used to how aggressive he is playing the puck and on if that is coming along: Yeah, I think so. There was that little few games there were I think guys didn’t expect it. For the guys who have been here for a few years and have known me for the few years I’ve been up and been at camps, I think they had a good idea about how much I do it, but I don’t think they fully realized how much I did it. I think it’s starting to show now.
For the most part, things are pretty smooth. I think there’s the occasional hiccup here or there, but I think that’s mostly on me just mishandling it. Guys are putting themselves in a position to receive the puck and be able to make plays. We spend so much less time in our end when it goes smoothly. And even when it doesn’t work out perfectly, the puck is away from the net. The puck is on the boards, and our wingers do a great job of battling those pucks out and living to fight another day.