The Canes started a bit slow but really got to their game in the third period, as Seth Jarvis, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho all tallied goals in the final period. Brady Skjei, in his return to Madison Square Garden, had two assists, joining Aho, Jarvis and Andrei Svechnikov with multi-point games.
Following the win, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Skjei, Jarvis and netminder Frederik Andersen spoke with members of the media.
Here is what they had to say:
On the importance of the game: It’s a big game for a lot of players, for obvious reasons. I don’t know how big of a game it will end up being. It might be a big game, but we’ll take the two points and talk about the next game as the big one.
On the win: We were really poor to start the game. We turned the puck over in our own end 12 times - on our sticks. That just sets up their game. We got some saves. We didn’t give up a ton, which was good, but it was too much in our zone. We had a good third period. That’s what happened. Freddie kept us in there and we had a good period. Tonight, it was good enough.
On Jarvis enjoying the big moments and staying composed: He doesn’t look like a young kid. He plays above that. You want him to take it in. We tell him that all the time. You should be enjoying the moments you get in this league. You don’t want to dwell on it or get overwhelmed by it, but you certainly want to appreciate the building and the history and all of that, and then go out and do your job. That’s what he did.
On what he was thinking while Andersen played the puck in the neutral zone during a delayed penalty sequence: (Laughs) He can’t cross the line with it, right? I’m pretty sure that’s the rule, so I’m hoping he knows that. It’s a pretty low-risk play because it’s a delayed penalty. I think it was fun. It’s something to talk about and the boys enjoyed it, for sure.
On the penalty kill: That’s the game in a nutshell. I think it was four, but it felt like ten. Every time they get one, you’re worried, because they are so lethal. That’s the game for me. If they score on that, it’s a totally different game. It was good. They had a couple of chances, but for the amount of time on the kill, I thought we did a pretty good job.
On how the Aho line bounced back and dominated after the first Rangers goal: They gave up the first one because of the turnover, and those kill you, especially against a team like the Rangers. After that, it’s like, okay let's get going. They just did it right after that. And they have a lot of talent, so when they get a chance, they’ll be able to score, too. That’s basically what happened.
On what made the penalty kill so effective: It’s so much to talk about. At the end of the day, they know what we’re trying to do and we know what they’re trying to do. Everybody knows what’s going on. It’s a matter of execution. I’m sure they’ll say that they didn’t execute what they wanted to do, and that’s the game. We’re trying to make sure they don’t get clean entries. I don’t think they had too many of those. That’s a big part of it. Faceoffs are a big part of it. We had a couple of good clears off the faceoff, so those things add up. And when you do mess up, your goalie has to make a save here or there. That’s basically what happened.
On staying calm through the tough start: I feel like we’ve been like that all year. If we don’t have a good start, no one panics. We are very confident in the way we play and the way our game is set up. Obviously we wanted a better start, but when we do have a little slower starts than we want we always seem to get to our game. It showed there in the third period.
On the importance of this game: It was a big game, huge game. Especially this time of the year where two teams are clinched it’s maybe not the most important, but the fact that we’re so close in the standings and we’ve got so many guys on our team who were members here for a while, it was a big game. We’re obviously really happy in the locker room that we came out with the win.
On what worked so well on the penalty kill: Just sticking with the way we roll. Obviously we have a lot of confidence in our PK right now. Throughout the year it’s been a good run, and we’ve just got to keep it going. It’s definitely a strength of ours.
On how emotional the night was for him: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was pretty strange walking into the building and going the other way. But also it’s been a while since I’ve been traded here. It’s been almost two years, maybe over two years, I don’t know. It was fun. It was obviously great to win, but it was good to see some people around the rink that I haven’t seen in a long time and say hi. It was a lot of fun and obviously much better that we got the win.
On winning this to put a bit more of a gap between them and the Rangers: It’s huge. I think these games at the end of the season usually have some big meaning, tonight we knew we were close in the standings as well as having some guys who played here in the past. It was a big game for us. Guys on the team knew that. It wasn’t the start we wanted, but I thought we played great in the third period and came back and got a big win.
On if this was his first time in MSG and on scoring a goal: Yeah, I’ve never been to New York before, so this was sick. It’s an iconic stadium. I’ve watched tons of basketball and hockey here. To be in here — especially during morning skate, I was looking up at the rafters the whole time checking everything out — it was super cool. To score was awesome.
On beating Igor Shesterkin one-on-one: He’s an unreal goaltender. I’ve talked a lot with our goaltender coach [Paul Schonfelder]. He really helped me with breakaways and shootouts and all that kind of stuff. He gave me ideas of what to look for. When it’s happening that quickly you don’t want to think too much, so that’s just kind of the first instinct to pump and go backhand. It went in, and obviously it feels good.
On winning with such a strong third period: Yeah, it’s really good. It’s kind of a testament to how we need to play the whole game. Obviously, we didn’t come out quite as well in the first two periods, but in the third period we found our game and really put it on them. It was nice to find that and come out in the third.
On the ‘stone-cold’ celebration: I was caught in the moment. I scored and it was cool. Obviously, you’re not going to hear many cheers here, so I didn’t want everyone to hear me yell. So, I just kind of kept it quiet. I don’t know.
On Andersen’s stability and making that everyone else more calm: 100 percent, both with him and [Antti Raanta]. We have total confidence in them, especially when games are where we’re under fire. Having those guys back there, it shows every night why they’re so good. Knowing you have that extra layer of defense down there and you don’t have to worry about him, it makes everyone play a little more freely and confidently.
On who taught Andersen how to stickhandle: I’d say Ian Cole. He’s got sick hands. I think he was talking to Freddie a little bit.
On what a game this big is like for him as a rookie: It’s awesome. It’s everything you dream of. Obviously, you’re in a new city every second day, so it’s cool to travel around. But especially now where it’s getting down to playoff time and games matter that much more, I think it’s really important to just kind of keep my head about me and not get overwhelmed. Especially in a game like today. Just keeping calm and having fun with it. It’s still hockey. It’s still the game I grew up playing, just on a bigger stage.
On being able to grow the division lead: Yeah, it’s awesome. Everyone knew how big of a game it was coming in. So just to get that, like you said, extra cushion, it means a lot for us, especially when we’ve got nine or eight left. There’s not too many left, so whatever we can get to kind of widen the gap on them. They shrunk it pretty good, so whatever we can do to just building the lead on it is good.
On if these places are intimidating to him or is it more just exciting: It’s so cool. I love it. It’s awesome. I think like you said it can be a little intimidating, but for me I think just the amount of games I’ve watched on TV sitting on my couch and now to be on the ice playing in games in this rink, it’s more that you can’t believe it’s happening. It’s ‘I can’t believe I’m out here, and I’m excited to get going.’
On his performance in the first period: I didn’t really think too much during the game. I just wanted to try and get ready. I never get to choose when I see the puck, I just have to be ready from the drop of the puck. They had a really good period and were able to capitalize on some turnover and sustain pressure. I thought we responded well in the second and third and went back at them.
On making timely saves and managing the game: It’s always a good time for a save, obviously, but sometimes you have to manage it a little bit if you can freeze some pucks early. It’s something you learn throughout your career. It’s not always in your control what shots you get against you. As a goalie, you just try to see what’s coming toward you and react to it.
On the penalty kill: The penalty kill has been good all year. I think it builds momentum in the game. Everyone wants to get power plays, but we have confidence that we can kill it and kill their confidence and momentum a little bit. We’ve shown that all year and it’s something we take pride in.
On what makes the penalty kill so good: Throughout the year, and again tonight, I think the main thing was our pressure down the ice after a faceoff win and get it down 200 feet and make them come the whole way to set up. It takes a lot of time to do that. And the willingness to block shots and keep them to the outside helps me. If they do get it in, I do my best. It’s worked pretty good so far.
On visiting and playing in New York: There was a little extra to it. We have some guys with history here, so it was probably pretty emotional for them. We rallied together as a team and got the win for them, too. It was a fun experience. It was for me. I don’t think I've been here in years. It’s a really cool experience and a fun environment to play in.