The 1972 Miami Dolphins. The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors. 2003-04 Arsenal. The 2022 (preseason) Carolina Hurricanes.
The utter dominance of the Canes’ preseason run continued at home Monday night, as Carolina beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-1 in an overwhelmingly one-sided affair.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Stefan Noesen, Derek Stepan, Brent Burns, Martin Necas and Brady Skjei all scored for the home team, with Necas and Stepan both scoring twice. The Canes went 2 for 4 on the power play and 1 for 1 on the penalty kill, as Carolina simply commanded every facet of the game.
Antti Raanta played the full game in net for the Canes, and while he wasn’t tested a ton he was very good. Raanta stopped 24 of 25 shots faced, making a couple really good saves in the final frame.
Columbus opened up the scoring early in the first period on an offensive-zone faceoff. There was a tie up around the dot, and Yegor Chinakhov picked up the puck and fired in one fluid motion. His shot beat Raanta through the five-hole, giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.
But Carolina quickly got it back on the power play, as Jamieson Rees drew a penalty along the boards. And just 31 seconds into the man advantage, Kotkaniemi blasted a beautiful wrister past Daniil Tarasov off a nice feed from Burns.
Another #Canes preseason power play goal!— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 3, 2022
What a shot from Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Yowza. 1-1. pic.twitter.com/EJTz1Rayck
Noesen made it 2-1 a little while later, as he camped himself in front of the net and grabbed his second greasy goal of the preseason. Brady Skjei fired in a shot, and Noesen got just enough of a backhand attempt on the rebound to beat Tarasov.
The #Canes are in front!— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 3, 2022
Stefan Noesen said after his goal Thursday that he was "just cleaning up the trash" and I'd venture to guess that he'd classify this as that as well. 2-1 as we approach the late stages of the first. pic.twitter.com/PJX754oNeo
The Canes doubled their lead in the waning seconds of the first period, as Stepan netted his second of the preseason with a great redirection in front of net. Jaccob Slavin fired in a shot, and Stepan did exactly what he needed to do to make it a 3-1 Carolina lead heading into the first intermission.
Make it 3-1, #Canes, inside the final five seconds of the opening frame!— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 3, 2022
Some strong work from below the goal line by Mackenzie MacEachern leads to a Jaccob Slavin shot from the point, redirected in front by Derek Stepan. pic.twitter.com/DDSemi6MAL
After a relatively slow start to the second period, things got mighty chippy six minutes in. Stelio Mattheos and Erik Gudbranson got into it along the boards, with Mattheos chasing Gudbranson down for a hit he didn’t take kindly.
The result of the skirmish was a power play for the Hurricanes, as Gudbranson got four minutes to Mattheos’ two.
And once again, the Hurricanes didn’t take long to capitalize on the man advantage. Burns unleashed a bomb from the point just 22 seconds into the power play that newly entered Jet Greaves had absolutely no chance of saving.
Brent Burns, anotha one!— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 4, 2022
No chance for the Columbus netminder, or the individual operating the camera. Third goal in two games for #8. 4-1, #Canes early in the second. pic.twitter.com/wKjQNSMtUb
The Canes were far from done in the second period, as Necas got himself a goal a few minutes later. Ryan Dzingel made a great play to win the puck for the Canes, and Necas buried his look off the feed from Dzingel.
Lots of Petey Pablo tonight at PNC Arena.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 4, 2022
Martin Necas is the beneficiary of some hard work from Ryan Dzingel and just a few seconds past the halfway point of the game it's 5-1, #Canes. pic.twitter.com/qFScoYSt6o
Then less than a minute later, Skjei found the back of the net from the slot to make it 6-1 off a great pass from Necas, who picked up his third point in 5:11 of play.
57 seconds after he puts one in the back of the net himself, Martin Necas sets up Brady Skjei to make it 6-1, Carolina.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 4, 2022
Five skaters already with multiple points for the #Canes. pic.twitter.com/S7Qb43Qm5T
It took the Canes 46 seconds of the third period to make it 7-1, as Burns rifled a phenomenal pass across the ice to Stepan. The veteran center took a second to corral the powerful pass, but he still managed to rifle home his second goal of the night.
Holy smokes.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 4, 2022
Burns' cross-ice feed is so strong Stepan can't handle it on the first try, but he collects, fires and gets his second of the night. 7-1. pic.twitter.com/FNQjPt9kaf
Dzingel and Necas linked up again in the final minutes of the game, as Necas picked up his second goal and fourth point of the night to make it 8-1.
The #Canes had gone 17 minutes without a goal, but they've rectified that now.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) October 4, 2022
Martin Necas with perhaps the easiest one he's ever put home after another sweet setup from Ryan Dzingel. 8-1. pic.twitter.com/RqNUGLopqq
The Hurricanes will finish up the preseason Tuesday night in Buffalo, looking to make it a perfect 5-0 before the real season begins next Wednesday against Columbus in Raleigh.
They Said It
On Necas’ confidence and game: He’s played well. There’s nothing really surprising. I don’t really see any difference in his play. It’s always been there. His pace has been there since we got him. It’s preseason, he’s got to continue that when it counts for real. But it’s certainly better than not seeing it. He’s definitely been impactful in every game that he’s played.
On if Derek Stepan is closer to a contract after that game: That’s not a question for me. But he’s definitely earning his stripes here. That’s the thing we talked about after the game. It’s tough to play these games, especially for older guys who understand that we’ve got 82 games coming up here that are going to count for real. But they all still went out there and did their job. That’s what we need around here. It shows the young guys what it takes to play in this league.
On if there’s anything to worry about with Brett Pesce: Nope.
On if he’s just holding his breath in the third period of a game like this with injuries: You just never know. It is tough. We shut a lot of guys down, but you still have to play guys. You can’t play the young guys the whole game. We were just kind of getting through it. But I liked the two periods before. We did it right.
On the win: It was a good game for us. The whole preseason has been good so far. We have so many good players. We’ve played basically two teams and everybody is working hard. So far it’s been good. It’s nice to get a couple touches in the game and the feel for it.
On being able to see pucks go in the net: It’s nice. It’s just the preseason, but obviously every time you score and things are going well it feels good. It’s more about getting in the game. If the goals are there it’s perfect, but it’s got to be there in a week.
On if he’s feeling more and more comfortable with the team: Yeah every day it’s getting better. I’m getting used to the drills and plays and different guys. It’s been part of the fun to be excited and nervous for practices and just getting to be a part of growing into something. It’s been fun to watch these guys. I’ve said it before, but there’s a lot of skill and they work hard. It’s fun to be on that side. It just builds for everybody. The energy keeps growing as each line goes out. It’s fun to be a part of.
On the chemistry he’s developing with Jaccob Slavin: It’s two games. He’s an incredible talent. He does so many things so well. You’re trying to help in certain situations, stay out of the way in certain situations. The systems are a little different. You have to go into games and see how things happen under pressure when you know there is going to be physical contact and you see how guys react. It’s good. You have to play games to get that. It’s only going to get better as time goes. Saying that, he’s just so highly skilled and good at everything that it’s made it a lot easier. The way he knocks pucks out of the air and his stick and speed, I didn’t know that. It’s nice to see.