Despite some blows down the middle, the Carolina Hurricanes managed to keep the offensive ball rolling last night against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
Strong Performances in the Face of Adversity
Look, we all know it was against the Arizona Coyotes, whose current roster along with the injury issues they’re facing, is not a good team, but still the Hurricanes came out and did what they needed to while missing some key pieces down the middle.
Both Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi missed the game, each being day-to-day with minor injuries, and losing both of them takes a huge bite out of the team down the middle.
Despite that, the new lines that Brind’Amour rolled out all had exceptional nights in terms of chance generation and actual scoring.
Max Domi slid right into the third line center spot with Jesper Fast and Nino Niederreiter and all three of them scored a goal.
Vincent Trocheck skating on a line with Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas got back onto the scoresheet and his line actually had the most chances created at even strength according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
The new top line look put the Finns back together alongside rookie Seth Jarvis and it generated the most high-danger chances and Sebastian Aho scored yet another goal.
The fourth line saw Steven Lorentz and Derek Stepan draw back into the lineup and their line had a noticeable jump and impact in the third period.
The fact that the team can lose two centers and still field four effective lines is a testament to the depth that management had the foresight to go and get during the offseason and at the trade deadline.
Milestones and Bounce Backs
Not only was it an important win for Carolina, but it also came with a bunch of Canes setting or pulling closer to some key milestones.
Here are a few of them:
- The 51 shots that the Hurricanes put up against the Coyotes was the most shots they’ve had in a game this season.
- Jesper Fast tied his career high in goals with 13. He last had 13 goals in 2017-18 with the New York Rangers.
- Max Domi scored his first goal as a Carolina Hurricane which was subsequently also his 100th career NHL goal.
- Brett Pesce, who had two assists last night, is just one point away from tying his career best of 29 points.
- Both Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter, who each scored last night, are just two goals off of tying their career bests.
- The 23-save performance by Antti Raanta came in his first game back in Arizona since he left in free agency. Raanta was the goaltender there from 2017-2021.
But not only was it a good game for milestones, but it was also a good game for a couple of bounce backs.
Vincent Trocheck, who had just one goal in his last 12 games, got the scoring going early with his 20th goal of the season and Martin Necas had an assist for his first point in 11 games. For Domi, it was also the first time he scored since February 17.
Even though it was against the Arizona Coyotes, whose best players are either injured or traded, the Canes still left a lot to be desired defensively through the first 40 minutes.
All three Coyotes goals came off odd-man rushes sprung by defensive breakdowns and it made the game a whole lot closer than it should have been.
The first goal came after a faceoff win by the Hurricanes. Jaccob Slavin tried to execute a give-and-go with Teuvo Teravainen, but Teravainen’s pass was picked off leaving him the only man back for an ensuing 3-on-1. He was the only man back because at the same time that Slavin was sliding down the wall for the pass, Tony DeAngelo also activated down the wall on the other side.
The second goal came from a long stretch pass from behind the Coyotes net. Brady Skjei did not pick up Loui Eriksson behind him who collected the bank pass off the wall and sprung a 2-on-1 which he elected to keep and score on.
Finally, the third goal came from a couple of gaffs in the neutral zone by Carolina. Brendan Smith tried to lay a hit at the offensive blueline, but the puck still got out, leaving him too far back to impact the developing play. Carolina had numbers back to support, but upon the zone entry, both Jesper Fast and Nino Niederreiter collapsed to the drop pass recipient and left Alex Galchenyuk, who had entered the zone, open.
And he was fed a quick pass across which he buried, as Ethan Bear was already too far back to get a stick on the pass across or the shot.
These weren’t the only misplays defensively by the Hurricanes last night, just the ones that turned into goals, but the key for the team was the fact that they turned it around in the third period.
The Canes locked things down in the final frame, allowing just five shots total and never even giving Arizona the chance to pull their goaltender. Their gaps were tight, the puck pressure was strong and they were just mentally engaged.
It was how the defensive structure has needed to look for a while now and hopefully that sort of play can become more of a standard practice rather than an occasional occurrence.