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They said it: Brind’Amour, Staal, Aho Nedeljkovic on win over Nashville

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Rod Brind’Amour, Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Alex Nedljkovic spoke to the media after Tuesday night’s win.

Captain Jordan Staal tracks the puck after a turnover in overtime against the Nashville Predators, Tuesday, Mar. 9, 2021 in PNC Arena.
Kaydee Gawlik

The Hurricanes were certainly not at their best in a 3-2 overtime win over Nashville Tuesday night, but found a way to come away with two points, thanks to Jordan Staal’s two goals (including the overtime winner), a power-play goal from Sebastian Aho and some timely stops from Alex Nedeljkovic.

Nedeljkovic, Staal, Aho and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media after the game, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:

Rod Brind’Amour

On the impact of team toughness: That’s the only choice you have. How you respond to everything is critical. I thought we weren’t good tonight, as a group certainly, but in certain areas – our penalty kill was huge, I felt, and the power play came through when it had to, and that’s really what happened tonight. For us, that was positive.

On Jordan Staal’s performance: He’s got confidence. I think he feels good about his game, and that’s a big part of it. It’s just the nature of the game; you validate everything. Look at the stat sheet: “oh, I’m playing good because I’m scoring goals.” With him, it was tough to keep telling him “you’re playing great” when he looks at the stat sheet over the last couple of years and he’s not producing. But I don’t really see a big difference in his game. I just see the puck going in for him. And he feels great about it, which probably says enough.

On what’s changed to allow the team to earn two points in an inconsistent performance: We’ve got better players, up and down the lineup. That’s it, essentially. That can bail us out when we’re not playing well. Tonight, Jordan Staal won us the game. That’s almost how I feel. Everyone else was kind of iffy. We had some spurts, but really, he was a monster in every aspect. Penalty kill, I just said, was great, and who’s part of that? Our power play came through; who’s part of that? And obviously, in overtime, who scores the goal? Who’s a part of that? To me, that’s one we got away with, and to answer your question in a long way, we have better players throughout the lineup, that we can get away with games because they can win us some here or there.

On Staal’s OT goal and OT in general: Yeah, that was not one of our better overtimes. Again, it was kind of indicative of our whole game. I felt like we were loose. We were just casual. And it’s hard to get a good feel for anything we were doing. Give the other team credit, they played really hard and pushed us to kind of get off our game, I guess. But that’s why he’s the captain. He just said ‘enough.’ His whole game never changes. You can watch him play – he had two or three unbelievable backchecks that will go unnoticed, but to me, the way he plays is the reason why we’re where we’re at right now. It’s infectious, and he was the reason tonight that we won.

Alex Nedljkovic

On if it was tough to get in a rhythm: I think for everybody it’s kind of tough to get into a good rhythm. There were quite a few power plays for both sides to start the game and in that second period. It’s tough, to get four lines rolling there, it’s hard. And that’s really when you see the best hockey, I think, when you can get four lines going from both sides and guys are playing between the whistles. Those games are a little difficult to get any sort of rhythm going.

On the hit on Brock McGinn: Yeah, a little bit. That was a pretty questionable hit, honestly. It was kind of surprising that that’s all that came out of it was just the two minutes. But Brock’s one of the hardest workers on the team here. Guys are willing to do anything when they see him out there every shift giving his body. To see a hit like that, maybe I think kind of hit a nerve in some guys and sparked us. I think that’s what got us finally going in the right direction. Unfortunately, that’s what it took.

On Jordan Staal: He’s got a lot to be confident about. He’s been a great player for a long time in this league. He’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s played with some great players. He’s off to a really start and he’s just building off of that every game. You see it in practice. He’s passing the puck hard, it’s crisp. He’s always the hardest worker. He’s putting the puck in the net. He’s letting it rip. It’s every day. It’s not like this is on game days, he just decides he’s going to show up and work. This is an everyday thing, and it’s not really that big of a surprise.

Sebastian Aho

On the hit on Brock McGinn and the team’s response: We all play for those wins and those points, but it’s just a mindset that we have to make them pay. Sometimes it’s scoring a goal on the power play that makes them hurt the most. I didn’t even see either of those hits live, so I don’t know what to say about them. It’s a big win, for sure.

On his play against the Predators: I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence. I try to score on every team and any goalie, but I didn’t even know that I have a lot of goals against them.

On what’s changed with Jordan Staal: Absolutely nothing. The only difference is he shows up on the scoresheet. He’s always been the same guy. He works hard. He’s the leader on and off the ice. He takes huge draws, he kills penalties. He’s been good on the power play every time I play with him. So just the difference is he’s producing more points, but he’s always been the same player to me. He’s always been a great player. I knew that he was capable of that. I played with him a lot my second year. I felt it was such an easy game for me. I think I had breakaways every game because he defends so well. He just lets you do your own thing out there.

On practicing against Jordan Staal: He’s a big body out there, so strong. He’s a beast out there and he’s not a fun to play against, for sure. I think in the games, he gets the mental side of it too, so he’s really tough to play against.

On this game the Hurricanes don’t win three or four years ago: So many things changed from then, when I think about anything from a few years ago. I think that’s a good sign, to win on tough nights. We’re a pretty deep team, and [Nedeljkovic] gave us a chance to win. And obviously the power play got us back in the game. Special teams overall was huge today. There’s a lot of things, but it’s a good thing to win when you don’t play your best game.

Jordan Staal

On the OT goal: I looked over and I didn’t see much for a pass, and I thought I had a decent angle of getting a good shot. It went in, so I’m happy with it.

On getting points when the team may not have been at its best: I don’t disagree with that. I think 5-on-5 we could have been a lot better. What made the difference tonight was our special teams. When you have a good PK and you keep their best players off the board as best you can, and our power play came up big to get us in the game. And those are big. You’ve got to win that battle every night if you want to win games. That was a big part, and that was solid. But our 5-on-5 game was just OK, and we’re going to need to get better, and obviously the longer you go, the tighter the games are, the more 5-on-5 is the big thing. We’re going to need everybody if we want to continue to win games down the stretch.

On the Fabbro hit changing things: It put our power play on the board. I thought it was a tough hit. Brock’s our toughest guy on the team, and when he goes down, you know it’s not a good feeling, not a good thing. It was good to see him back out on the ice, and we’re glad he’s alright. Our power play wanted to get one for him, and I thought it got us some momentum.

On a “young” team channeling anger from the hit into a positive: You look at the young guys we have, they do a great job of utilizing that and focusing even that much more, and really dialing in. You can tell that we had to get going. That power play needed to get going to get us back in it. A couple big goals, a couple big plays, and it was all good.

Rod Brind’Amour

On the impact of team toughness: That’s the only choice you have. How you respond to everything is critical. I thought we weren’t good tonight, as a group certainly, but in certain areas – our penalty kill was huge, I felt, and the power play came through when it had to, and that’s really what happened tonight. For us, that was positive.

On Jordan Staal’s performance: He’s got confidence. I think he feels good about his game, and that’s a big part of it. It’s just the nature of the game; you validate everything. Look at the stat sheet: “oh, I’m playing good because I’m scoring goals.” With him, it was tough to keep telling him “you’re playing great” when he looks at the stat sheet over the last couple of years and he’s not producing. But I don’t really see a big difference in his game. I just see the puck going in for him. And he feels great about it, which probably says enough.

On what’s changed to allow the team to earn two points in an inconsistent performance: We’ve got better players, up and down the lineup. That’s it, essentially. That can bail us out when we’re not playing well. Tonight, Jordan Staal won us the game. That’s almost how I feel. Everyone else was kind of iffy. We had some spurts, but really, he was a monster in every aspect. Penalty kill, I just said, was great, and who’s part of that? Our power play came through; who’s part of that? And obviously, in overtime, who scores the goal? Who’s a part of that? To me, that’s one we got away with, and to answer your question in a long way, we have better players throughout the lineup, that we can get away with games because they can win us some here or there.

On Staal’s OT goal and OT in general: Yeah, that was not one of our better overtimes. Again, it was kind of indicative of our whole game. I felt like we were loose. We were just casual. And it’s hard to get a good feel for anything we were doing. Give the other team credit, they played really hard and pushed us to kind of get off our game, I guess. But that’s why he’s the captain. He just said “enough.” His whole game never changes. You can watch him play – he had two or three unbelievable backchecks that will go unnoticed, but to me, the way he plays is the reason why we’re where we’re at right now. It’s infectious, and he was the reason tonight that we won.