The Carolina Hurricanes’ long, nationally-televised nightmare has ended.
On ABC, the Hurricanes came through with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, breaking their streak of losses on national broadcasts.
While all eyes and ears were on Carolina’s mic’d up star Sebastian Aho, it was the Canes’ depth players who came through with the big moments en route to their 13th-consecutive home game with at least one point in the standings.
Overall, the Hurricanes have won four straight games and are now back in the top seed in the league standings.
Last talk about yesterday afternoon.
Depth Goals Make the Difference
Thanks to the outstanding performances of Frederik Andersen and Martin Jones, the Hurricanes and Flyers were knotted up for most of the game.
The first goal didn’t come until the 8:34 mark of the second period, and it came from Carolina’s fourth line.
Derek Stepan’s gorgeous behind-the-back pass fooled Jones, and Steven Lorentz put it home from a tight angle to break the ice and ignite a great crowd at PNC Arena.
The goal poured water on a dry patch of offense for Carolina’s fourth-line winger. Lorentz had gone 21 games without a goal, and he only had two assists over that span.
It was also an impressive way for Stepan to secure his 500th point in the NHL.
He ended that in style on Saturday. And after the Flyers came back to tie the game, the Hurricanes found themselves deep into the third period of a 1-1 game, on the brink of overtime.
On a day where their star players were covered from start to finish, they needed another unlikely hero, and that’s what they got.
Riding a 16-game goal drought and having scored just one goal in his last 40 games, Jordan Martinook was due.
Vincent Trocheck lofted a soft wrister on net from the blue line, and Martinook got his stick on the puck from the high slot. He got just enough of it to change its trajectory from a low-danger flutter to a high-danger redirection.
Naturally, both Lorentz and Martinook broke their goalless streaks by going to the net. First, Lorentz camped out at the backdoor and shined off a beautiful pass. Then, Martinook cruised through the slot to make life harder on a goalie who had been almost perfect for north of 56 minutes.
On top of his goal, Martinook had one of his best games of the entire season. He led all Canes skaters with a whopping 80.68 xGF% at 5-on-5. He and Andrei Svechnikov were both all over the offensive zone, accumulating six high-danger shot attempts and allowing just one against in almost 15:00 of 5-on-5 ice time.
As well as Carolina’s top forwards have played over the last several weeks, depth goal-scoring has lagged. So what happened yesterday was a promising development. It was encouraging to see them come through with goals that decided the team’s fate against a desperate divisional opponent that could have easily won.
There will be plenty of instances moving forward wherein the Hurricanes will need their bottom-six players to spark some offense, especially when teams start locking down the top-six in the postseason.
Back Like He Never Left
Frederik Andersen got back on the ice and played in his first game in nine days, and any concerns about his rhythm getting upended were put to rest.
It was another day at the office for Carolina’s All-Star netminder, who stopped 28 of 29 shots, including some remarkable acrobatic saves, in his 30th win of the season, tying Sunshine State goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky for the most among all NHL goalies.
Over his last six starts, Andersen has five wins, and a .934 save percentage, which now has his save percentage for the season right at .930.
The lone goal he allowed was one that, and he’ll be the first to admit it, shouldn’t have happened.
He bobbled an easy lob into and out of his chest, and Derek Brassard swooped by the Carolina defense to put it home.
He made up for that by holding off the Flyers the rest of the way and giving his team the chance to close things out, which they did.
After Antti Raanta stepped up and dominated while Andersen was out, the Hurricanes appear to have everything going in the right direction in the net. Over the last four games, Carolina goaltenders have a .958 save percentage while seeing 30 shots per game.