The Hurricanes came up with another huge win Thursday night, beating Florida 4-2 to take over sole possession of first place in the Central Division.
The Canes went 8 for 9 on the penalty kill, Martin Necas had three assists, Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist and Nino Niederreiter scored on the power play. Niederreiter, Aho, Necas and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media after the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On the Canes’ effort: We just won a game. I’m thrilled. We played our butts off. We had to kill penalties. We had guys log 800 minutes, block shots and that’s how you’ve got to win. Why wouldn’t I be happy. I’m ecstatic. That was a great effort, great saves, everything. It was a gross hockey game, but that’s because we were in the box the whole night. But that was a great effort by a lot of guys tonight.
On Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce playing half the game: It’s not how you want to do it, but those guys, they’re warriors. Both those guys. The minutes they logged, those are hard, heavy minutes. You’re on the penalty kill, that’s the hard work time of the game. Those guys were great tonight.
On Aho and Necas: Skills, talent. You get their understanding of the penalty kill. They get it. They’re dynamic with the skill set they have and really the ability to skate. You can skate when there’s some open ice there, and then the talent takes over at times. Obviously that was a huge part of the game if not the whole game.
On it being a gutsy win: It was pretty gutsy. I agree. We were kind of iffy at the start of the game, and then we got going. We weren’t giving up too much. Then obviously the trouble turned that game into what you just said. It had to be a gutsy win, and that’s what it was.
On fighting and physicality: I’m not a big fan of the fighting, but when you get asked to do it, our guys are bouncing right in there. They don’t back down. I’d rather keep my guys on the ice, but they’re competitive. This whole group’s competitive. That’s why we’re in this position.
On Jordan Martinook and hip checks: I saw him. He’s pretty sore, so I guess we’ll maybe know more tomorrow. I’m not really sure. It didn’t look good when I saw the video of the play. Hip checks, hits from behind, the game’s physical. It’s just unfortunate sometimes that guys get hurt.
On Petr Mrazek: He tweaked something, and it was very minor, but you’re not about to put guys out there, especially the goalies, with minor stuff. We’ve got three of them, and [Alex Nedeljkovic] played unbelievable tonight. Hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow. He’s going to hopefully skate and then we’ll see.
On winning games against the Florida teams: The way we’re looking at it, every game is huge and it’s the same two points available every night. Obviously the standings are tight in our division, so yeah. It’s a big win, for sure, for us.
On losing Jordan Martinook: I didn’t even see how he went [down]. It was the whole game, too, there was a lot of penalties. It’s tough to get all four lines rolling, and missing one player doesn’t help it at all. So hopefully he’s fine.
On his chemistry with Martin Necas: I think it’s just the way we think about the game. He’s a smart player. He’s fast. He thinks fast out there. I like that. We read pretty well off each other, which obviously helps a lot killing penalties. Obviously you see the 2-on-0, it’s not like you practice one of those. It just comes quick and he made a nice play. I’m happy I was able to score on that.
On the 2 on 0 with Necas: I thought I had a breakaway, but he’s fast, he caught me. It was 2 on 0. It was kind of surprising, obviously. You don’t get many of those. That was kind of a funny moment. But I’m happy to be able to score on that.
On all of the penalties throughout the game and how they managed to win despite them: There wasn’t much 5-on-5. Too many penalty kills today. We had some power play as well, Special teams won the game today. We scored on PK, one on power play. Special teams came up huge and that was the key for the game. Ned played an unbelievable game.
On how he approached his long 2-on-0 chance: I remember since I was young, we practiced 2-on-0. They always said to go back and forth. The goalie has to move with the pass. Fortunately, he moved and [Aho] had an empty net.
On how he has developed chemistry with Aho and their play together: We’re similar players. We think the game the same way. On the PK, we can read off each other really well. We just have to keep building on that and get better and better.
On if wins against teams like the Panthers feel even bigger this time of year: Every win is huge, especially against top teams like Tampa and Florida. Feels like playoff games. It was a huge game. We have to build off of that. Maybe next game, we don’t take as many penalties because it’s pretty hard to defend those.
On how the Canes grinded through the penalties and won: The game wasn’t very good, but we found a way to win which is the key. Ned stood on his play. He made a terrific play to keep us in the lead and our PK was definitely terrific so it was a big win for us.
On how special teams won them the game: 5-on-5 there wasn’t much going on. There were so many special teams sequences. We battled through that game and it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way. That’s what we can take out of this game. We took way too many penalties. I think we got under their skin a little bit, so it was a big win.
On how the physicality has been elevated over the last two games: At the end of the day, it’s up for first place. You can tell and you can feel it when it’s coming down the wire. Everybody wants to take first place and start at home. I think it’s key. Every game, especially against Tampa and Florida, it’s been a grind and they’ve been tough games, but there’s still a lot of games left to get that first seed and we’ll do whatever we can do to get there.
On if it felt like a playoff game: Yeah, it was very physical and a lot of trash talk going on. You can tell we’re starting not to like each other and we don’t want to face each other in the first round, but at the end of the day you have to take whoever comes first. We have to make sure that we get that first seed.