Led by yet another exceptional performance in net from Pyotr Kochetkov, the Carolina Hurricanes extended their point streak to 12 games and win streak to six games with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night in PNC Arena.
Kochetkov was on one from the very start, stopping 37 of 38 shots faced while making a handful of phenomenal, highlight-reel saves along the way before finally conceding to Jack Hughes in the final five minutes of the game.
Kochetkov was aided by an almost immediate lead in the contest, too, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi found the back of the net just 20 seconds into the game. Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen both unleashed snipes in the second period, while Stefan Noesen rounded out the scoring with a bank shot off Mackenzie Blackwood late in the game.
On the other end of the ice, Vitek Vanecek had an absolute stinker of a game for the Devils, stopping just 10 of 13 shots faced in the first two periods before making way for Blackwood for the final 20 minutes. Blackwood wasn’t remarkable, stopping six of seven shots faced.
The Canes couldn’t have drawn up a better start if they wanted to, as Kotkaniemi opened the scoring just 20 overwhelming seconds from the Canes into the game. Carolina got the puck and immediately attacked, as a flurry of chances paid off with Kotkaniemi gathering the puck in front of net and backhanding in his own rebound to make it 1-0.
20 seconds ... that's all it took! pic.twitter.com/hoRspDqtun— Bally Sports: Canes (@CanesOnBally) December 21, 2022
Seth Jarvis, playing in his 100th NHL game, got on the scoresheet early with the assist, gathering the puck in the corner and slotting it to Kotkaniemi for the score.
New Jersey responded well from the early Carolina outburst, though, and after controlling the game for a few minutes earned a very soft tripping penalty against Martin Necas. The penalty kill wasn’t great as the Devils piled on chances, but Kochetkov made some huge, huge stops to keep it 1-0 and keep the early momentum with the home team.
The Hurricanes thought they had scored early in a period once again, as Brent Burns skated through New Jersey’s defense and set up Necas for a clean, open-net one-timer, which he blasted home.
However, Lindy Ruff challenged for an offside as Burns entered the zone, a successful call that took the Carolina goal off the board.
The Canes got a second power play of the game shortly after, which was better than an abysmal man advantage in the first period but not all too much better. However, Staal officially made it 2-0 shortly after that power play came to an end, skating into the circle and rifling a snipe past Vanecek.
The Hurricanes went to the penalty kill, but that didn’t stop the moment. Teravainen unleashed a wickedly quick dart as he carried the puck into the zone, beating Vanecek easily to make it 3-0 with a shorthanded effort.
Don't let Turbo get hot— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 21, 2022
Wait, actually, yes. Let him get hot. pic.twitter.com/txqM3KZsLf
Carolina should have made it 4-0 later in the middle period but didn’t, as Derek Stepan whiffed on a puck on a wide, wide, wide-open net after a great breakout pass from the Canes.
The Hurricanes carried the 3-0 lead into the second intermission, again thanks to some late-period heroics from Kochetkov.
The Devils switched to Blackwood to start the third, which played out mostly the same as the first two periods. Kochetkov made some more great saves, but was eventually beat by Hughes to cut Carolina’s lead to 3-1.
But Noesen got it right back with a tricky little goal, picking up the puck behind New Jersey’s net and smashing one off Blackwood’s back and in to make it 4-1.
With the win, the Hurricanes extended their point streak to 12 games, now just one shy of tying the franchise record. They also jumped to the lead in the Metro Division, having come into the game tied on 44 points with the Devils.
The Hurricanes will look to keep it rolling Thursday night in Pittsburgh against a Penguins team that has already been involved in two of the games during this 12-game point streak.
They Said It
On winning a game where they didn’t dominant the shot total: We’ve been on the other end of that a lot. It doesn’t feel good. We weren’t very good, and they were good. Give them a lot of credit. They did what they wanted to do, and we were able to capitalize on a few of their mistakes. We started great, obviously. But that was about our best shift of the game, really. We weren’t real tight with what we wanted to do. I felt like we were chasing them for most of the game. But our goalie obviously was great tonight.
On the team responding well to the overturned Burns goal and scoring soon after: It was a great play by Burns. It was too bad it didn’t count. We had a few really nice individual efforts for goals tonight, or non-goals. But to your point, it was nice that the next shift we didn’t go the other way with it.
On being in the lead in the Metro: We want to be there at the end of the year. But it’s two points. It’s allowing us to push towards that. But it’s not standings time for me right now.
On scoring so early on: That’s pretty big. We’re competing for the same points. It’s nice to get the good start there right away and get the crowd going on our side. It felt good.
On making New Jersey chase the game with that early goal: You always wish that you start with a good feeling when a goal goes in. It was not our best game tonight, but it was good to get the win.
On Kochetkov: It was one of those nights where we really needed the goalie, and he was there standing on his head. That’s what good teams need if they want to go far.
On Kochetkov: He stole the show, for sure. He was our best player, by far. We had a couple of other contributors, but it was not our best game. They’re a good team that creates a lot of offense, and they got us on our heels a little bit. We’d like to play a little better, but we had some big plays by [Kochetkov] and some other guys to get us through this one.
On his goal: I just closed my eyes and hoped it goes in.
On getting up early: It helps. It always helps in this league. It’s hard to come back. I think that’s a reason we may have given up a little too many shots. We were trying to contain, and that’s a tough team to contain. It’s always nice to get the lead, and [Kochetkov] stole the rest of the show.