The Hurricanes followed up Monday’s loss with their biggest win of the season Tuesday night, picking up a 4-1 win in Tampa Bay thanks to goals from Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter and Steven Lorentz and 26 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic.
Lorentz, Niederreiter, Nedeljkovic and Brind’Amour spoke to the media following the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On the fourth line: It’s huge, especially because it allows you to get your other guys a little rest. We don’t have to rely on them so much, because there were a couple other lines that maybe weren’t as good, and they certainly held their own and obviously contributed. It makes it easier, especially when there’s just so many games that we’re playing here. Watching minutes is vital, so they played a great game tonight.
On Jordan Staal’s goal: Those are special. It’s a game of battles and [Staal] obviously does that every shift. It’s nice to get rewarded. He’s had so many looks here in the last few games, and it’s nice to see him get rewarded for the dirty work and battle level. It’s nice when you get those, especially against a guy you’re battling all night.
On the Canes upping the ante: That was a 60-minute effort all the way through. They had some shifts, but nothing like the other night in our end. That was just that we were a little more invested in the game and they probably weren’t. It was probably a reversal, and that’s what you get out of it. So it was a solid, top-to-bottom good game.
On the Hurricanes getting respect: I think teams look at us and we rarely get a game where they don’t play well. Teams are ready to play against us. Almost all of the time, we get their best game. They know they have to play their best to beat us, and that’s a testament to the guys we have in our room. We come ready to play almost every night, and I feel like even the nights we’re off, we’re not that bad. It’s a good group. They work hard. You’ve got to give them credit for that.
On Brady Skjei getting hurt and what the Canes playing well with five defesnemen says about them: I’m glad you brought that up. He got hit from behind in the first period and tried to play through it. It was a hit from behind. I can tell you that right now. I’ve looked at it 10 times. The numbers are turned, 10 feet, it’s above the goal line when it gets run and finished, hard check into him. But that’s a hit from behind. So I know nothing’s going to happen, but we’ve got a guy now that might have a concussion for it. So I’m not happy about that.
But what it says is the guys dug in. Plain and simple. The five D hung in there and battled for each other, so that was a great win.
On the intensity of the game being a boost heading into the postseason: All these games, they mean a lot. These two against these guys, they were right behind us. It would have been good to get two points last night but it is what it is. We’re poised here to make a deep run hopefully and games like this are only going to push us in the right direction. Everybody gains experience from these games. We’ll most likely have to go through these guys in one way or another. Anytime you can beat them, we evened up the series with them on the year. That way, going in, having the confidence to know we can hang with these guys.
On his early save on Ryan McDonagh getting him into the game: Honestly I kind of got a little lucky. I was a little behind the play there. It’s huge for pucks to just hit you like that. I kind of felt a little behind it, so to me, if it’s hitting me like that, I’m at least in somewhat of a decent position to make a save. It’s always nice to get the early ones like that especially if they’re as good of a quality as that one was. It’s always a nice little confidence boost for the rest of the way.
On being able to take a minute to appreciate becoming an NHL regular: Absolutely. This is what you worked for your entire life. As a kid, growing up, I was kind of naive. It was always a dream to play in the league and I never actually, until I was 18 in my draft year, that it kind of hit me. That I could actually do this for a career. It’s special. You treasure it every time. When we were in Columbus, I got to see my family and just catch up with them. I always call my mom and dad after games and stuff. My fiance too. Just treasure and stay in the moment and enjoy it for as long as possible because it won’t be forever.
On playing with a chip on his shoulder: A little bit, but I think as a group we have that kind of mentality. Being a southern team, we don’t get as much exposure across the league like some of the bigger markets do. We’ve had a solid year. We’ve been at the top for the entire year and I still think sometimes that people kind of throw a little doubt on us and they don’t believe in what we’re doing here. But we’ve got 25 to 26 guys in that room every night and on a daily basis ready to go. We believe that we can do something special here. We can go far and we can be the last team standing.
On the defense stepping up after losing Brady Skjei: That was excellent. It was awesome to see. I didn’t really notice we were down because we were just playing so well in that second period. We were getting pucks out, pucks deep. As a D corp, they were solid. Skjei is a big piece of that on the backend, but those five guys picked up the slack and really kind of hammered it home there for us.
On this being a game unlike any other for him: I think there was a little more at stake here tonight considering the performance we put on yesterday wasn’t very good and we knew that. I think our group did a really good job bouncing back today and I’m really proud of the way we responded. We came out in the first period after we looked ourselves in the mirror last game. It was special to go out there and basically grind out for the first little while there. They had some shifts in our end, but we played in their end quite a bit. It just kind of went back and forth for a bit, but once we got on the board we kind of got energized and Martinook had a great fight. That got the boys going too and we were able to put a couple more by a really good goaltender in Vasilevskiy. We’re very proud of the way we responded today and we are very happy with taking three of four from Tampa.
On Jordan Staal winning a battle against Yanni Gourde and scoring a goal: That’s exactly what a captain does. That’s textbook. Jordo’s a guy that leads by example. He’s not the most talkative guy but he could have turned around and punched him in the head after taking about three to four cross-checks like that, but he kept his cool and he let Gourde kind of hang off of him and take those shots. The puck just kind of went up to the point and he just stood his ground and tipped the puck. That got such a loud reaction from the bench because everybody realized what just happened. I think everybody was yelling at the other team a little bit too and it just fired us up so much. When your captain is doing stuff like that it just makes you want to go out and do it too on your next shift.
On his line : I think it’s just understanding our role. We’re not expected to go out and put up two or three points a night. We understand that and our job basically is to keep it simple and just create energy and give our top-six or top-nine guys a rest. When we go out there, we know that we have to play responsibly and really make sure that we’re taking care of our own end and being on the D-side of pucks. In games like tonight where I’m proud of our line in that we responded the way we did after last night. We kind of got hemmed in our own end by their fourth line pretty much the whole game.
So we just kind of looked ourselves in the mirror and before this one, we got together — [Cedric Paquette], [Morgan Geekie] and I — and we just said, ‘Hey look, we have to be a lot better tonight,’ and I think we were. It started with winning faceoffs and I think not just myself but the wingers diving in and being able to help out with pushing pucks back. When you start with the puck, it’s so much easier and those guys did such a good job in helping out. We established a really good forecheck and obviously what created the goal.
[Geekie] and I have worked on that move in practice for the past couple of weeks where he just bumps it to that little soft spot in the middle and I was fortunate enough that they missed coverage and I was able to get a shot on net and it went in. I was very happy with the way our line played tonight and we just have to keep that energy moving forward into Florida.
On being able to get under Tampa’s skin: That’s exactly what you want to do to a team like that, especially the Stanley Cup champions. They’re playing extremely well this year and they’re still rolling off of that cup. When you see a team that plays a similar system to us — they’re in your face, they’re all over you and they’re aggressive — and when we can play our structure just like that and we see them get off their game and try to do things individually and slamming their sticks and yelling at each other on the bench, that’s when we know we’ve kind of got them. Anytime we kind of see that, it just gives you a little bit of confidence and energy. It just rallies that guys as a group when Tampa Bay starts getting off what makes them successful. Again, very happy with the way we performed tonight and we have to keep this momentum going into Florida.
On the Canes’ effort from the start: I think everybody was a little bit angry from last night’s game, and we all were a little disappointed with how we came out. We knew exactly what we had to bring and how to respond, and I think right from the get go, we got pucks in, made simple plays and we ended up getting rewarded for that.
On Jordan Staal’s goal as he’s battling Yanni Gourde: We don’t like them and they don’t like us. It’s pretty simple. It’s a tough game. There’s a lot of hits and battles all over the place. There’s a couple fights. It was definitely very physical. I’m glad we got the win tonight.
On his goal and Vincent Trocheck’s pass: It was definitely a terrific pass, even from [Martin Necas], breaking it out and giving it to [Trocheck]. He found me perfectly and it was nice to get the goal.
On the fourth line: That line was probably our best line tonight. They were constantly in the O-zone, got pucks in deep and it was probably the best game I’ve seen them play so far. I feel like they’re gaining confidence more and more, and they were really, really good tonight.