The Carolina Hurricanes, in their own words, “stunk” Thursday night against the Blue Jackets, but did a great job Saturday afternoon to not let that turn into a losing streak with a comprehensive 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Carolina got verifiable snipes from Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas, with Steven Lorentz adding a well-earned cheeky redirection to make it 4-1 in the third period.
The Canes looked strong and physical from the very start, something that hasn’t necessarily been the case to open up 2022, and rode that to an important win over the Canucks.
Here are a few thoughts from the matinee win:
Not letting one loss turn into two
The hangover effect is a very real thing in sports. So often we see teams get absolutely smacked in the face in a game and they let it carry over to the next, confidence and energy depleted from a thorough embarrassment.
The Canes were handed an even tougher task Saturday with a matinee, an occasion that can always seem to maybe bring some sluggishness for teams that are so, so used to starting almost every single game at 7 p.m.
But Carolina didn’t let that happen. Instead, the Hurricanes came out flying and made sure that the Columbus loss was a standalone defeat and not a losing streak.
“We were excited because it had been a while for us since we had a good start to a game,” said Andrei Svechnikov. “I was focusing on that for my first shift and I tried to find a hit to get myself going. It was great.”
Carolina got the first goal of the afternoon, thanks to a power-play snipe from Sebastian Aho. Just all-around good hockey.
While Vancouver did tie things up before the first intermission, the Canes looked good and in control and broke things open in the second.
For a team coming off its worst loss of the season, by far, the Hurricanes did exactly what they needed to do Saturday afternoon. That’s what the great teams do.
“You don’t want to play good and still lose a couple here,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “I just felt too that this was the first time were we played a couple in a row and you could see it was a much better rhythm and flow even thought we took a ton of penalties. I thought the guys were engaged and just kept to our game. There wasn’t really any lulls in how we played. That’s how we need to play.”
Another great thing for the Hurricanes Saturday was that they got some goals from some guys who haven’t necessarily been scoring them lately.
Aho’s first-period goal was his first in seven games, which certainly falls into the category of goal drought by his standards. He hadn’t scored since Dec. 11.
Then in the second period, Trocheck finished off a beautiful play with a roofed effort to make it 2-1. That goal was Trocheck’s first in eight games, and just his second goal in the Canes’ last 11 played.
Tro gave Marty an assist for his birthday pic.twitter.com/zNFlwhPShe— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 15, 2022
And then Martin Necas made it 3-1 with his first goal in nine games, scoring on his birthday to help the Hurricanes sure up the lead.
Sugar Boo birthday present! pic.twitter.com/QpL8QnviV7— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 15, 2022
It’s always good to get guys busting out of slumps. It’s even better when you can get it from a couple in the same game. It’s even better when it comes in a big win after a bad loss.
“Just thinking of the fans and how almost every night is a full rink and they see us lose 6-0,” Necas said. “It’s not a good time, so we couldn’t let it happen two games in a row. Maybe it can happen once a year — we don’t want it to happen once a year — but if it happens, don’t make it twice.”
The Canes penalty kill is phenomenal.
Like, really, really, really, really good.
Carolina entered Saturday’s affair riding a streak of 30 straight successful penalty kills. Saturday, the Canes went 5 for 5 to make it 35 straight.
The franchise record for consecutive killed penalties is 36, so the Canes are certainly closing in on that. The NHL record is 53 (set by the Capitals in 1999-2000), so maybe not quite there yet.
But still, the Hurricanes penalty kill has been otherworldly. In 10 minutes of power play time Saturday, Vancouver managed just two high-danger chances for and barely beat the Canes in total chances for.
Vancouver had just 0.54 xGF during those 10 minutes. The Canes’ PK was at 0.42 xGF!
“There’s a ton of factors, but I think at the end of the day, the guys are taking pride in how they go about their business,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s hard work. Essentially to me, the penalty kill is hard work. You have a structure obviously, but those guys have to go out there and bring it. And obviously your best penalty killer is your goalie and Freddie was good again tonight.”
It’s hard work, sure, but it’s hard work that the Hurricanes are making look pretty easy right now. With a 90.5 PK%, the Canes now pace the entire NHL.
Most have probably seen this by now, but Brind’Amour had some words for the fans in his postgame presser about the crowd pitching in for Oh, Canada. When asked about the best part of the game, Brind’Amour answered:
“The win. Actually, you know what? Maybe it wasn’t the best part, but you know what I really liked? During the national anthem, when the young girl had a little problem with the Canadian national anthem, the whole crowd helped her out and finished it. I was like, ‘That’s impressive.’ Good job to the people that were here. I don’t know if this gets out to them, but that set the tone for the day to me.”
It’s a cool nod from the head coach, and it also shows that the guys on the bench really do have an appreciation for the people in the building.