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Quick Whistles: Hurricanes’ Third Line Magic, Bouncing Back, Red Jerseys

On a night where Andrei Svechnikov was in the spotlight, Carolina’s third line quietly pieced together another big night.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night was all about Andrei Svechnikov for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 22-year-old winger collected his second hat trick in as many games against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers this season, but this time, the result for the team was drastically different.

On the night after a sloppy shutout loss in Florida, the Hurricanes put together one of their most complete efforts of the season. Their 7-2 blowout win saw them produce a season-high six goals and 22 high-danger shot attempts at five-on-five.

Svechnikov’s hatty is the highlight of the game, but Carolina’s third line had a hat trick of their own - from a certain point of view.

The checking trio of Joran Staal, Jordan Martinook, and Jesper Fast produced three five-on-five goals (one apiece), including a dagger from Staal that beat the second-period buzzer and made it a 4-1 game.

The veterans managed to lock down the Leon Draisaitl line, as well, but it’s been the offensive chances they’ve produced that have made them stand out over the last few weeks.

Their six goals at five-on-five this season are tied for tenth-most among all NHL forward combinations this season, and their 70.8 expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five is the fourth-best among the 84 NHL lines with at least 50 minutes of ice time.

Where they rank in offensive chances is shocking. The only four trios producing more expected goals per 60 minutes feature the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Aleksander Barkov, Jack Eichel, and Claude Giroux. They rank one slot ahead of Sidney Crosby’s line.

The Hurricanes have five regular forwards who have an on-ice high-danger shots-for rate north of 60%. Martinook and Staal are first and second, respectively, and Fast is fifth.

What the third line lacks in flair, they have made up for in consistency. Martinook, in particular, has had a statement-making season in the early going.

After being put on waivers before the start of the campaign, the high-energy winger leads all Hurricanes skaters in corsi-for-percentage (70.13%), expected goals-for-percentage (69.77%), and high-danger shot attempts-for-percentage (70%) all while being tied for the lowest offensive-zone start rate with Staal.

He’s been aided by a 12.5% shooting percentage, which isn’t unreasonably high but is 2.1% higher than his career high. Martinook isn’t a scorer, so that number may trickle down, but his overall game has stood out and made a serious impact at the bottom of the lineup.

Health will always be the chief concern for him, but if he manages to stay healthy and continue to build on his strong opening 12 games, it would be a big boost.

A Mixed Bag

On the whole, the Hurricanes had a very inconsistent week.

After winning on back-to-back nights against Atlantic Division clubs, the Canes dropped back-to-back against two other Atlantic teams.

Wednesday night in Florida was particularly rough. Dylan Coughlin’s return to the lineup went poorly. Florida’s opening goal saw Coughlin lose Nick Cousins and take his time getting back to defend against his easy backdoor tap-in. Things didn’t improve much for him as the night went on, but the same could be said for the rest of the team.

Unsurprisingly, the Hurricanes swapped Coughlin out for Calvin de Haan for the Edmonton game, and the third pairing was much better.

Injuries have played a role in the different third-pairing looks, but it seems like their best bet continues to be de Haan and Jalen Chatfield.

Speaking of injuries, Teuvo Teravainen’s departure from Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury was also concerning. Teravainen has had an uneven start to the season, but it felt like things were starting to shift over the last few games. He had two assists in 7:34 of ice time before leaving the game.

Frederik Andersen has missed two games due to a lower-body injury, and they were fortunate that Antti Raanta didn’t get hurt in Florida when he got clipped in the head by a Panthers forward.

Pyotr Kotchetkov stepped in and had a great night. He stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced, and he had a highlight reel play of his own on a Zach Hyman breakaway bid.

Kotchetkov’s night was a fun reminder of what the 23-year-old has to offer moving forward and just another in a line of great performances dating back to the end of October with Chicago in the AHL.

The Hurricanes’ effort against the Oilers was much-needed after a disappointing loss 24 hours earlier. Despite a 9-4-1 start, there is still a gear that the Hurricanes haven’t hit with consistency. Thursday night was one of those nights where everything clicked, and now they have to build on it.

The next stretch for the Canes is West-heavy. Four of their next five games will be on the road in a Western Conference city, starting Saturday in Colorado. Each of their next six, seven of their next eight, ten of their next 12, and 12 of their next 16 games are against Western Conference teams. Only two of the next 16 games will be against Metropolitan clubs.

They won’t start seeing a steady wave of divisional games until mid-December. Those games will have a greater sense of importance, but the Hurricanes can help themselves out a whole lot if they can get on a run and pile up wins in the meantime.

The Home Reds

It was a very smart decision by the team to wear the retro home red jerseys against the Oilers. It was reminiscent of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

For some reason, Svechnikov’s hat trick goal reminded me of Rod Brind’Amour’s game-one goal in the ‘06 Final when he tucked the game-winning goal after a Ty Conklin turnover behind his own net. I think it’s a combination of the jerseys, where the goal was scored, and Svech having that big “7” on his back.

The Hurricanes will wear those uniforms ten more times this season, and we’ll see if they continue using them after this season, but I think there’s a strong argument to be made that they should be the full-time home uniforms.

They’re just great. They pop. As slick as the black set is, I think it’s better suited for the secondary home look.

Maybe it’s just the nostalgia hitting me in the precise way that a professional marketing team planned for it to, but I think the retro red jerseys look better on the ice, and the black jerseys get a bit stale over time with how much they’re used.

That’s it for my impromptu Hurricanes jersey takes.