After a 6-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at home, captain Jordan Staal made an assurance.
Not that they’d try to play better or hope that they could be a bit better, but a guarantee that they would be better.
His words proved to ring true as the Hurricanes collected two points in a dominant 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks in a Saturday afternoon matinee at PNC Arena.
The Canes’ forecheck was aggressive and the defense was tightened up as the whole team played like they had a fire beneath him. It was the response that they needed.
And it was that continued pressure that culminated in Carolina breaking the ice first. On their first power play chance of the game, All-Star Sebastian Aho delivered a pivoting one-timer from between the circles to take the lead.
Now the Canes were by no means perfect, as was seen when Vancouver tied the game back up a few minutes later. It started with a turnover in the offensive zone by Brady Skjei followed by a poor gap set by Brett Pesce on the ensuing entry and all capped off by a whiff from Frederik Andersen on a Bo Horvat shot.
But the Canes didn’t let that stem their tide.
It was also around this point of the game where Andrei Svechnikov began to take over. Svechnikov was a physical force all afternoon, barreling over Canucks and shaking off any counterattacks, but what was really shining was his growing playmaking ability.
And it wasn’t just him that was shining, but also his linemates — Vincent Trocheck and birthday boy, Martin Necas — as well.
Their first goal came right at the start of the second period, where off a faceoff draw, Svechnikov shouldered a defender off of him and into the boards, then collected a pass below the goal line from Necas and set up Vincent Trocheck in front for the go-ahead goal.
Tro gave Marty an assist for his birthday pic.twitter.com/zNFlwhPShe— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 15, 2022
Then moments later, as Svechnikov was skating the puck out of the defensive zone, he kept on his feet as he shrugged off a charging Brad Hunt and launched Martin Necas on a 2-on-1, which Necas buried.
Sugar Boo birthday present! pic.twitter.com/QpL8QnviV7— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 15, 2022
The goals snapped a six-game goal drought for Trocheck and a seven-game goal drought for Necas.
Although the Trocheck line was getting most of the glory, the line that had really set the tone all game was Staaal’s. He was trailed by Jesper Fast and Steven Lorentz and all afternoon, their heavy forecheck just grated away at the Canucks.
So it was only fitting that they too got rewarded.
Lorentz, who picked up his third goal and fifth point in his last five games, is proving that he may just have a hidden talent as a net front specialist with yet another redirect goal.
The real story out of the game however, may be the Hurricanes’ penalty kill which went a perfect 5 for 5 in the game and now sits just one kill away from tying a franchise record 36 straight killed off penalties.
It’s a product of hard work and buying in and just may be the perfect representation of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes will hope to put another streak together as they travel to Boston on Tuesday to play the Bruins at 7 p.m.