It was certainly a night to forget for the naysayers as the Carolina Hurricanes rode the wave of success to a franchise record 10th consecutive win, on the backs of three power play goals and another Antti Raanta shutout.
Carolina absolutely dominated the special teams battle against the Florida Panthers, going a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and scoring on 3-of-5 (essentially 4-of-5) chances on the power play.
And although their point streaks ended, the Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook line did their primary job, completely neutralizing the Panthers’ top line. Aleksander Barkov, fresh off of a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens the night prior, was a non-threat most of the night.
The power play success was certainly a sight for sore eyes. Coming into the game, the Canes were in the high 20’s amongst the league for power play success, not a pretty place to be. But Brind’Amour had been saying all season that the chances had been there, they just weren’t getting the bounces and tonight showed that the process can pay off.
The Canes kicked it off early with Stefan Noesen — the teams leader in power play goals with six now — was Johnny on the spot as his quick reflexes allowed him to pounce on a loose puck with a yawning cage.
The initial shot by Sebastian Aho had actually beaten Florida netminder Spencer Knight between his legs, but the shot hit the post and bounced out, but luckily right to Noesen.
Andrei Svechnikov followed that goal up by unleashing an absolute rocket of a wrister in the second period, beating Knight with the shortside, post-and-in shot.
Svechnikov is rediscovering his lethal shot and it’s a big reason why he has 19-goals on the season to lead the team.
A bit after that, Seth Jarvis whiffed on a pass, but the puck still managed to nutmeg a Florida penalty killer and land right in front of Teuvo Teravainen who shot it in off of Knight’s skate.
So the penalty kill would have been 4-for-5 tonight, however, Kotkaniemi waited just five seconds too long in picking his corner. However, the Panther in the box didn’t manage to rejoin the play before the goal, so it was basically a power play goal. We’re counting it.
Kotkaniemi has a great release, he just has had a bit of an accuracy problem. He’s aimed for that top corner so often and it’s good that he finally managed to find it this time. If he can get that shot locked in, he’ll be just fine.
After that, the Canes shut it down for the rest of the way thanks to the goalie
And what a night it was for Raanta who posted his second consecutive shutout for the second time in his career.
After a slow start to the season, Raanta has really settled into a groove as of late and it’s coincided at the perfect time with the team on a juggernaut pace.
With Pyotr Kochetkov supposedly nursing an injury, Raanta has carried the torch magnificently. Even after getting ran twice, Raanta’s resiliency shined through.
Pyotr Kochetkov (12/10-12/13) and Antti Raanta (12/27-12/30) have each posted shutouts in back-to-back team games this season, as Carolina has become the eighth team in NHL history to have two goaltenders accomplish the feat in a single campaign (last: STL, 2015-16).— Hurricanes PR (@CanesPR) December 31, 2022
If the Canes can get multiple goalies going in a groove, it’s going to be a good season.
Already with a new franchise record for consecutive games with at least a point (16) and consecutive wins (10), the Hurricanes have a lot to be grateful for to close out 2022.
The new year will begin with Carolina on the road for a 3 p.m. afternoon matinee showdown with the New Jersey Devils on New Year’s Day.