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Mrazek dazzles in return with shutout

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Dallas Stars 1-0 Sunday night at PNC Arena as the team brought the physicality to the close, hard-checking match.

Petr Mrzaek bats the puck away from the goal during the game against the Dallas Stars, Sunday, Apr. 4, 2021 in PNC Arena. Mrzaek had 28 saves in a shutout for his first game back after thumb surgery. The Canes won 1-0 in regulation.
Kaydee Gawlik

It was the Return of the Raz in Raleigh as Petr Mrazek made his return to the lineup after missing the last two months due to a broken thumb. The Czech netminder made it a return to remember with his third shutout in four full games played this season.

It was a full and complete game for the Carolina Hurricanes, who proved in a 1-0 bounce back win over the Dallas Stars Sunday night at PNC Arena, that they can still win those grindy, physical hockey games.

Right from the whistle, you could tell Carolina was energized and ready. They brought the physicality with them and laid 21 hits in the first period alone, and ended up throwing 54 over the course of the game.

As one would expect from these two teams, the game lacked a lot of space, but the Canes found patches here and there and found none better than in the opening of the second period.

Vincent Trocheck managed to free Jordan Martinook for a rare, but clean, breakaway and “Marty” made no mistake sniping it home top-shelf over Jake Oettinger — who was making his second consecutive start with Anton Khudobin still out due to COVID protocol — to give the Canes the lead.

It felt like the Canes had chance after chance after chance for the whole game as they really hemmed in Dallas for long shifts at a time, but the stingy Dallas D and strong play by Oettinger, who made 37 saves on the night, made this game come down to the wire.

The Stars made a final push late into the third, but the Canes and Mrazek held strong.

Carolina has proven that they can play any style necessary to win and with the test that Dallas brings of physical, playoff style hockey it just shows even more what the Canes are capable of.

It was a good showing from Mrazek, who earned his third shutout in the four games he has played to completion. There was a bit of shakiness with some pucks in close and rebounds, but as the game went on, Mrazek settled in more and more. He especially came up huge in the third against the Stars’ push and was really good in seeing through traffic and getting freezes when the team needed him.

Another strong performance for the Canes came from Brady Skjei, who was very noticeable in all zones of play and has really seemed to be reaching another level of play as of late. There’s a history of guys new to Carolina’s blueline taking a while to adapt and it seems the breakthrough may be here.

Two bits of concern though from the game where that Dallas head coach Rick Bowness left the game after two periods due to COVID protocol, and Brock McGinn did not return after suffering an upper-body injury.

The Hurricanes will continue their homestand as the Florida Panthers come to town Tuesday night at 7 p.m.