It’s been rough sledding for the Carolina Hurricanes as of late, dropping five of their previous six games and failing to score more than three goals in each of their last 13 games heading into their bout with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Let’s say that Saturday was a breath of fresh air for the Hurricanes, who looked much more like themselves in a plethora of ways.
The Hurricanes were dangerous, competitive, and electric throughout their date with the Blues, and they rode that way to an entertaining 7-2 win to kick off their three-game road trip.
An early holding penalty on Andrei Svechnikov put the Hurricanes behind the eight-ball, but a dominant kill and one great play turned the tables in Carolina’s favor.
Martin Necas picked up the puck along his own goal line and brought it up through the neutral zone and into the Blues’ zone before firing a shot by Ville Husso for a short-handed goal to give the Canes a 1-0 lead.
After controlling most of the play early on, thanks to a pair of Carolina penalties, St. Louis started to see the ice tilted against them through a majority of the opening frame.
The Hurricanes were dominant, putting together multi-shift offensive-zone shifts and wearing down the Blues’ defense.
They didn’t manage to score another goal in the first period, but the Canes were very clearly overwhelming their opponents, and the floodgates started to open in the second.
Just 67 seconds into the middle frame, Carolina doubled their lead.
Seth Jarvis got a pass from Teuvo Teravainen and drove to the front of the net on 6-foot-6 defender Colton Parayko and flipped it by Husso on the short-side to make it 2-0.
Just over two minutes later, the Canes scored another.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi got the puck to a wide-open Brett Pesce bearing down into the slot, and the defenseman rifled a snapshot home. The Hurricanes turned their one-goal lead into a three-goal lead by the 3:16 mark of the second period.
Things got a little chippy after that goal, and fireworks went off at 5:57.
Alexei Toropchenko sent Derek Stepan hard into the boards, and Kotkaniemi responded by dropping the gloves and decisively pounding Toropchenko in front of the Carolina bench. Unfortunately, that netted him an instigator penalty on top of the five for fighting, which was an automatic ten-minute misconduct in addition to his seven penalty minutes.
The Blues didn’t score on that power play, but they did score later in the period during a four-on-four sequence. Pavel Buchnevich beat Brady Skjei to the front of the net and deflected home a centering pass from Nick Leddy on a two-on-two rush.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to respond, though.
On the power play immediately following the four-on-four, the Canes’ top power-play unit masterfully whipped the puck all over the zone, ending in a gorgeous feed from Sebastian Aho to Svechnikov for a one-time goal to put the Carolina lead back at three goals.
Both teams exchanged great scoring chances as things started to open up late in the period, but neither team could add to their goal total by the end of the middle frame.
The two clubs combined for four goals and 22 shots in the second period. Carolina had three of the four goals and 14 of the 22 shots.
The Blues got pretty much all of the scoring chances in the third period, and they managed to cut their deficit back down to two goals thanks to Buchnevich’s second of the night.
The wind got knocked out of their sails when they pulled Husso for an extra attacker with almost six minutes left in the game. First, Svechnikov scored on the empty net, and then Nino Niederreiter scored on the empty net, making it a 6-2 game with more than four minutes to go.
The Hurricanes then scored on an actual goalie with just over two minutes to go to make it a 7-2 game, which is how the game finally ended.
Carolina had four shots on goal in the third period. Three of them were goals. Two of them were on an empty net.
Despite their strange third period, the Hurricanes picked up a big win thanks to how well they set themselves up in the first 40 minutes. The 7-2 tally doesn’t do justice to how close the game was late in the third period, though.
The Hurricanes will continue their road trip in Washington on Monday night.