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About Last Night: The Captain

Jordan Staal scored his first regular season hat trick in 13 years Sunday evening as the Canes beat the Ducks 5-2.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up a good all-around win Sunday evening at home, beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on the back of a Jordan Staal hat trick.

It was a big win for the Canes, who felt like they kind of needed one where things just went right.

About last night:

The Captain

It’s kind of crazy to think about the fact that Jordan Staal had never scored a hat trick with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canes’ captain, who has been with the team since 2012 and has now scored 134 goals as a Hurricane, had gone over 13 years without recording a regular season hat trick.

His last came on Nov. 11, 2008 when he was playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he now holds the NHL record for longest gap between regular season hat tricks at almost 5,000 days. He did have a postseason one in 2012, also for the Penguins.

Before Sunday evening, Staal had eight games with two goals for the Hurricanes, and the wild thing about that is that six of those games have come in the last two seasons. He found a scoring touch like never before last year with four two-goal games, but he could never find a third.

And that scoring touch has returned for Staal here in this season, as a historically long scoreless drought through most of the season has completely turned around for the Carolina captain in the past few weeks.

Staal has now scored 11 goals in his last 29 games played after going 35 games without a goal. The last three times he’s scored he’s had multiple goals in the game, with a two-goal effort on March 4 and April 7 to go along with his hat trick. He’s got five goals in his last three games, too.

It’s the kind of thing that is great to see. Staal, who has put in so much for the organization, deserved a night where he got to see the hats pouring over the boards for him.

And there’s nobody on the Hurricanes who has more admiration and respect in the locker room, and there’s not a guy on the team who people in that room want to see succeed on the ice more than Staal.

“I was probably more pumped for him than he was for himself,” said defenseman Jaccob Slavin. “He’s our leader. He brings it every single night. Night in and night out, he’s always working hard. He cares about the game a lot. He cares about the guys in the locker room. I know I look up to him as a player and a person, so when you see guys get rewarded like that it’s special.”

An All-Around Win

It’s maybe a bit of understatement to say that the Hurricanes haven’t been playing their best hockey in the past couple weeks, but Sunday’s win over the Ducks was just what the doctor ordered.

The Canes played well, settled in after a crazy first period to take control and win the game handily.

Carolina absolutely dominated the analytical side of things. The Canes had a 65.77 CF%, led the scoring chances 41-12 and the high-danger chances 25-4, a simply ridiculous number.

The scoreboard showed the end result, too, as a 5-2 win maybe wasn’t even fully indicative how much the Hurricanes dominated the play of the game.

The penalty kill was great. The power play, while not scoring, generated a ton of chances and looked better than it has in a good little bit. The 5-on-5 play was strong.

When asked about the power play specifically, head coach Rod Brind’Amour gushed about the entire performance. And he’s right, it was a good one.

“It was great. We had a lot of good looks. We got in and had zone time,” Brind’Amour said. “The second power play, two of our guys were out so we kind of mixed and matched the unit, but they got some good looks. It was good. Penalty kill was great. Everything was good tonight.”

Other Thoughts

  • Frederik Andersen just continues to be a rock. He picked up his 34th win of the season in his 50th game with the Hurricanes Sunday night, tying him for the second-most wins all time in the first 50 games with a team.
  • Andrei Svechnikov continues to show how well-rounded his game is, displaying his physicality and aggression that couples nicely with his high-end skill. Brind’Amour said postgame that Svechnikov “plays playoff hockey”, a good description of the still so young Svechnikov.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes’ shot heat map from Sunday evening’s game is a work of art. Spoiler: good things happen when you get to the front of the net.
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