The stars aligned again for the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night as the team rode a strong opening 40 minutes to their fourth consecutive win and third in a row on the six-game road trip.
Their victory formula didn’t change much from recent games. It was another stellar night for Carolina’s offensive leaders in front of a 31-save effort from their young starting goalie.
Let’s talk about last night.
The Hurricanes did a great job controlling the pace of play through the opening 40 minutes, and their ability to do so was the deciding factor in the game.
The scoring started at the four-minute mark of the opening period off of some great defensive-zone work from the Carolina third line.
Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast combined to win a board battle in their own end, pushed the puck up to Jordan Martinook, and the red-hot veteran winger set up Brady Skjei for a gorgeous move and finish on Jonathan Quick.
Martinook secured his fourth point in two games with the primary assist, following his hat trick against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
The Hurricanes rendered just six shots against in the opening period, and their fast start was supported by a great finish after the Kings started to get into penalty trouble.
40 seconds into a late first-period Carolina power play, Los Angeles’ Adrian Kempe tripped Martin Necas. That created a delayed penalty sequence and a brief 6-on-4 that the Hurricanes’ leading point producer took full advantage of.
Necas rifled a perfect shot from the top of the right circle that beat Quick through a great screen from Stefan Noesen. Necas’ 12th of the year extended his point streak to four games.
The Hurricanes opened the second period with another great chance. Calvin de Haan slid a perfect pass to the stick of Sebastian Aho along the goal line, but it was a rare blunder from Aho that kept the game at 2-0 for a brief moment. Then, Aho got another bid at the net that Quick made a phenomenal diving save on.
Those two near misses from Aho likely only added some satisfaction to his eventual tally late in the middle frame.
Aho stole the puck from a Kings forward in the Carolina zone, fed the puck to Seth Jarvis, and the first line pushed the puck through the neutral zone. Necas threaded a centering feed to a charging Aho, who corralled it and knocked the puck into the net to make it a 3-0 game.
The primary assist marked Necas’ eighth multi-point game of the season, and it put the Hurricanes in an optimal position with a three-goal lead entering the third period.
Figuring it Out in the Final 20
The third period was the home team’s best. They put pressure on the Carolina defense and Pyotr Kochetkov, who made some big saves all night but finally got bested on the Kings’ second man advantage of the period.
Arthur Kalyiez kicked off the scoring for L.A. on a cross-ice one-timer. Kochetkov got a lot of the shot, but it managed to trickle under his arm and into the net.
The Kings had life, and they went on the offensive in the shifts following the goal. Kochetkov had to deal with a wave of chances in a two-goal game, but nothing came from it for the Kings.
The Hurricanes got a much-needed bounce to go their way on a counter-attack around the 12-minute mark. Brent Burns waited for the team to execute a line change and then quickly found the tape of Andrei Svechnikov in the neutral zone. Svehcnikov danced around and through Los Angeles’ backline before attempting a pass to Jarvis, but the pass deflected off of Drew Doughty’s skate and just over the pad of Quick for an incredibly timely goal.
Svechnikov’s 15th goal in 25 games this season was the dagger for a Kings club that was showing signs of life in the third period.
Samuel Fagemo netted his first of the season with just over two minutes left in the game, but that wasn’t enough to spark a comeback. The Hurricanes survived the third-period push and finished off the night with a 4-2 win.
Led Again by the Big 3
Carolina’s offense has been carried by Necas, Aho, and Svechnikov this season. And again, that was the case in So Cal.
The first line of Necas, Aho, and Jarvis was the team’s best trio last night. Jarvis’ assist on Aho’s second-period goal extended his point streak to five games. He has points in six of his last seven games, and that’s a wonderful sign from a second-year player who had been fighting through it for several weeks.
In the month of November, Necas, Aho, and Svechnikov scored 50% of the team’s goals. They accounted for three of four in Los Angeles in another great showing.
With every passing game, Necas shows that his hot start wasn’t a fluke. He is a different player this season, and he has terrorized Carolina’s opponents on a nightly basis. Jarvis’ awakening has helped in making the first line a consistent threat.
Kochetkov had a few shaky moments in the win, but his numbers continue to be undeniable. He has a 3-0-1 record to go with a .932 save percentage over his last five games. The 23-year-old is up to a .919 save percentage on the year through nine appearances.
Teuvo Teravainen has a smooth return from injury. He looked comfortable with his 15:47 of ice time in his first game since November 10. Quitely, it was also one of Paul Stastny’s better games with the Hurricanes. He had a couple of quality scoring chances on Quick, and while he couldn’t get his first goal with the team, hopefully, this is a building block for him moving forward.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a meeting with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.