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About Last Night: The Hurricanes Are A Wagon

Now winners of ten consecutive games, the Hurricanes are a certified, card-carrying wagon of a hockey team.

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

There’s firing on all cylinders, and then there’s what the Carolina Hurricanes did last night against the Florida Panthers.

Four different goal-scorers, a suffocating team defensive effort, and another Antii Raanta shutout led the way for the Hurricanes in their tenth consecutive win. It’s the first time in franchise history that the team has rattled off double-digit wins without losing, and they’re the second team in the NHL to do it this season.

Their 4-0 shutout over Florida clinched a 12-0-1 month of December. They have points in 16 straight games. They have one regulation loss in their last 21 games.

Let’s talk about last night.

A Special Team

Last night was a sight for sore eyes as the Hurricanes’ power play capitalized on three of their five opportunities. It’s the first time this season that the Canes have scored three power-play goals in a game.

The last time the Hurricanes got three PPGs in a game was exactly one year prior, on December 30, 2021, against the Montreal Canadiens. That, too, was a 4-0 shutout win on home ice.

The power play scored each of the team’s first three goals of the night (also the fourth one, from a certain point of view). That started at 7:05 of the first period. Sebastian Aho doesn’t usually get to hang out near the blue line and walk into a shot on the power play, but he was able to step into a hesitation wrist shot that beat Spencer Knight through the five-hole, hit the post, and bounced right to the stick of Stefan Noesen.

Noesen’s goal was his eighth of the season and his fifth in eight games.

In the first period, the power play helped the Hurricanes take advantage of an overall dominant 20 minutes of hockey. In the second period, it bailed them out of a weaker stretch of 5-on-5 hockey.

Andrei Svechnikov picked his spot on Knight with his power-play snipe at 4:58 of the second. Seven minutes later, Teuvo Teravainen scored just the third goal of his injury-hampered season off of an accidentally-on-purpose drop pass from Seth Jarvis.

The first unit accounted for two power-play goals. The second unit accounted for just one official power-play marker, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s snipe five seconds after the expiration of a third-period power-play served the very same purpose and was the dagger in a 4-0 win.

Somehow, that was Kotkaniemi’s first multi-point game of the 2022-23 season and his first since a three-point game in the final game of the last regular season. Jarvis’ two-assist night continued a solid offensive stretch for the second-year winger. He has points in 11 of his last 16 games.

The Hurricanes also went a sterling six-for-six on the penalty kill, effectively keeping high-end scorers like Alexander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk at bay and off the scoresheet.

Bookend Dominance

Carolina’s power play found success from start to finish, but at 5-on-5, they were at their most dominant in the first and third periods.

The Hurricanes outshot the Panthers 23-8 in the first and final frames, combined, and produced nine high-danger shot attempts to Florida’s four.

The win was a fun reminder of what a good power play can do for you on any given night. Their ability to score early and often on the man advantage made matters much less stressful at 5-on-5 and allowed them to comfortably stick to their game.

The result was a totally suffocating team defensive effort and constant puck possession in the offensive zone. When the Hurricanes are at their best, that’s how they look at 5-on-5. Last night, they finally got the special teams offense to support their play, and the game was never really competitive.

Back on November 9, the first meeting of the season between the two clubs, it was Florida that got a shutout win on their home ice. The result put the Panthers at 8-5-1 and the Hurricanes at 8-4-1. Since then, the Panthers have gone 8-11-5. The Hurricanes are 16-2-5 over that same stretch.

Two teams that seemed as evenly matched as conceivably possible last season, the Hurricanes and Panthers, are now trending in two very different directions.

Raanting And Raving

Antii Raanta started just four times over the course of a full month in November and early December. He’s now started four straight games for the Hurricanes, and now he’s recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

An early collision involving Raanta sent a streak of anxiety down Carolina’s spines, but the oft-injured veteran goalie slowly got to his feet and stayed in the game. The team played an outstanding game in front of him, but he made a handful of challenging saves, especially in Florida’s active second period.

The Hurricanes have gotten back-to-back shutouts from two different goals over the last two weeks. It’s a remarkable stat, one that speaks volumes about the team’s 5-on-5 defense and surging penalty kill. Of course, Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov also deserve credit for how they’ve found ways to win games. Not every night has been pretty in the Carolina net, but it’s been consistently good enough.

Recently, it’s been much more than that.

From top to bottom, this team is playing incredible hockey. This level of dominance is rarely achieved at this level, and the Hurricanes seem content with keeping this train going for as long as they can.