Winning fixes everything.
Or at the very least, it makes the rougher parts of your game seem not that bad.
So instead of having to worry about an uncharacteristically lackluster performance from the top-six and being outshot 39-29 by the third worst team in the league, the Carolina Hurricanes will be able to fly back home happy and two points richer thanks to a 3-2 shootout win.
To be fair, it was certainly a strange game, with no fans being able to attend due to Canada’s new COVID-19 protocols and coupled with some of the worst ice conditions all season.
The energy levels were noticeably lower and the ice was just brutal all night, with the puck bouncing every which way but straight, but both teams play under the same conditions so you can’t complain too much.
The first period was actually pretty good for Carolina, with the Hurricanes actually looking like they should against the 30th place team that was missing their top two forwards — Drake Batherson having sustained an ankle injury in Ottawa’s last game and Josh Norris leaving in the first period of this game — but the brutal ice conditions prevented Carolina from generating anything too dangerous.
They actually found a winning formula early into the second period, which was simply: Putting pucks on net.
Yep. That simple.
Brady Skjei collected a puck at the blueline and elected to just shoot it towards the net while Derek Stepan and Steven Lorentz were providing some net-front presence. Stepan got his stick on it and he deflected it in past Matt Murray.
It was the formula they should have replicated all night.
Instead the Canes kept trying to force passes and make plays while the puck simply bounced around the ice like a basketball, jumping sticks and getting turned over.
Nobody was more impacted by the conditions than the Hurricanes’ top line who got buried most of the night, with just a 35.29 CF% and a goal against.
So naturally, Ottawa found success implementing a simplified game, being physical and putting pucks on net, and low and behold, they found themselves up 2-1 late into the third.
But what separates a good team and bad team is that a good team is never out of a game.
Thanks to the elite play of Frederik Andersen — the only two goals against him were a redirect from his own defensemen and a redirect off an opponents’ heel — the Canes were only trailing by a goal with under five to play.
This is when they decided to get back into the game and actually start generating offense again. And what would you know, the Hurricanes found an equalizer with Jaccob Slavin throwing a puck to the net and Nino Niederreiter being at the net and able to find the loose puck in the crease.
The winning formula.
The Canes tied it up and took the game to overtime, but nothing was settled there, so Carolina went to its first shootout of the season. There, Andersen turned aside all three Ottawa shooters and Andrei Svechnikov scored the lone goal to cap off the Hurricanes’ comeback effort.
So because of that, they’ll be able to just put this unusual game in the rear-view and move on to their next challenge: Whalers Night at PNC Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the New Jersey Devils.