Unfortunately, the vibes were tarnished by a late hit from Washington’s Lars Eller that may lead to Jesperi Kotkaniemi being out for an extended period of time.
Rod Brind’Amour, Martin Necas, and Max Domi spoke to the media after the game.
On Eller’s late hit on Kotkaniemi: He hurt a player. He’s injured. We don’t know how bad, but he’s definitely going to be out. The game was over. Let’s just get over with it - two seconds. I don’t like it, but what are you going to do about it. I talked to him. He’s not doing great. I don’t know the extent, but it’s not good.
On Brendan Smith’s health after his fight: Yeah, he’s fine.
On the team’s performance: We were fine. We got pucks to go in. A lot of our losses, the puck just hasn’t gone in. We played solid and got good goaltending when we needed it. We capitalized on our chances tonight.
On if these regular-season games will come into play if they play Washington in the playoffs: If we get to the playoffs and have to play them, none of these games are going to matter.
On Sebastian Aho’s shorthanded goal: That was a big goal. That’s the big goal of the game. They’re on the power play and we get the shorthanded goal. That’s probably the turning point of the game. We had one, kind of broken up on a couple, it wasn’t great. We had a few chances, but the shorthanded goal - that was the game.
On Smith’s fight: We know he’s a courageous guy. He’s been that way his whole career. I’m not a big fan of fighting at that point in the game. There’s no reason for it, but I understand why those things happen, but it’s kind of pointless, really, at that point in the game.
On Max Domi: He’s looked comfortable the whole time. He’s going to get more and more comfortable, but he looks fine. He’s been great in the games he’s been here. There’s nothing that looks uncomfortable about his game, but I think he’s getting more relaxed.
On the importance of finally getting a win over the Capitals: Obviously, in those games before, Washington beat us, so we tried to prove to each other that we can play against them like we can against any team in the NHL. It was a good game by us. We’re still taking too many penalties, which feels like normal for us. It was a good game by us. Now we have to get ready for tomorrow.
On Smith’s fight: It’s huge. He didn’t need to do it, but he did it for the team, which is huge. It was a great fight by him. You can see how much everyone cares about each other in the locker room.
On the timing of the offense coming alive: It’s always important, but finally, we’re getting a couple of bounces and pucks going in. When we lost four or five in a row, we always had 40 or 45 shots and scored one or two goals. It was only a matter of time for that to come and now it’s here.
On how he’s fit in on his new team and his new line: I’ve had some good chemistry with them, which goes a long way when you’re coming to a new team and new system and whatnot.
On Eller’s hit on Kotkaniemi: Yeah. I mean, that’s brutal. It’s such a tough play. I can’t really speak too much on the play. We don’t like it, obviously. He’s a big part of this team and we need everyone here, so seeing him go down is not easy. Hopefully, he will be okay. We don’t know what it is, yet, but hopefully, it’s not so bad.
On the Hurricanes’ depth: It’s such a deep team. They come at you in waves. They have so much talent here, and I just want to be part of that. Every night, there’s a new guy or new line that’s going and sometimes all four lines are going, so you just have to trust that the puck’s going to go in. The last couple of games, that’s been the story.
On gearing up for the playoffs: I think every game from here to the playoffs is gearing up for the real stage. Every game is big. It doesn’t matter who it’s against. We’re happy to get the win and we’ll try to get another one tomorrow night against Tampa.
On Smith’s fight: Two tough dudes going at it. A lot of respect for [Smith] for doing something like that. It wasn’t something that he had to do, but it’s part of the league and he was a big part of the win tonight. It was great to see him involved, and he made a bunch of defensive plays and some good plays in the o-zone, too.