The Carolina Hurricanes officially punched their ticket to the postseason Thursday night at home, coming from behind to beat the Sabres 5-3 in a pretty ugly hockey game.
The Canes fell down 2-0 early but ended the game with four unanswered goals, as Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho both scored twice to help the Hurricanes avoid a second straight loss to Buffalo.
Following the playoff-clinching win, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Aho, Seth Jarvis and Staal spoke with members of the media.
Here is what they had to say:
On getting two points even on a rough night: It’s a great way to look at it. We weren’t at our best, but the guys said ‘ok, enough’ and went out and had a good period. They played their butts off, really. It was a good third period. It got us the win.
On clinching the playoff spot: That’s really the big picture. Thank you for bringing that up. It’s a huge accomplishment. We’ve grinded all year. We know there’s bigger and better things that we want to accomplish, but you have to get there first. To get there with 11 games to go, that says a lot about the group. Normally you’re sweating it out to try and get in at this point. The fact that we’re in and have accomplished that, it should be celebrated to some degree. We’re going to come back tomorrow and talk about how we want to win the game. But I give these guys a lot of credit. The majority of the time, you guys watch the games, they play their butts off every night. It doesn’t always work out, but they’re a pretty committed group.
On reaching 100 points for the second time ever: That’s kind of what I’m alluding to. We still have 10 or 11 games left and we’re at that point, it’s got to say something about the group.
On getting to the playoffs for the fourth straight year after the long drought: Yes. That’s what we wanted to accomplish from day one four years ago. It wasn’t just to have a good team here and there. It was to be good for a long time and give this area a team to be proud of. That’s really what it is. I remember four years ago when we got in it was felt awesome. Now, the fact that we’re just expected to do it is a huge shift in how we all perceive us. That’s something to be proud of.
On Jarvis’ enthusiasm being infectious: These young guys that are coming in bring that young life to your group, which is needed. He was probably happy because he messed up on one of the goals and was probably super excited that we didn’t have to talk about that too much. Again, what I like about it is that everybody contributed this year. As you go down the list it’s not just one guy that you can hang your hat on that guy. Every night it feels like we’ve got different guys contributing, and if we want to have success as a franchise or a team, that’s how it has to be built.
On having success this year with nine new players: That’s a good point. I remember going back I was quite concerned about nine new guys. But that goes to the management and the guys did their homework on who we were bringing in, and it’s so important how they fit. They’re all on board. We’re here to do one thing. This was the first step, but you have to take that step to get to the next one.
On if there was a turning point in the game: There was a bunch of them. I think really the start of the third getting that equalizer and the way we did it, that’s kind of how we play with forcing the turnovers. It’s nice to see [Staal] get rewarded. We know what he’s meant to this franchise, and he had a huge game. It was kind of like ‘here you go, signature game when we kind of seal the deal.’ That’s the guy who deserves it.
On an exchange he had with Rasmus Dahlin getting the fans going and being a pivotal point of the game: Yeah, tough start. The first few shots went in. Great shots. You can’t blame [Antti Raanta] there, he played an unbelievable game. He made big saves in the second. I don’t know if that moment was a turning point, but we definitely had a good third period. And that’s definitely what we need coming down the stretch and in the playoffs, too, to be able to come back in games. It’s not always going to go your way, but that will to grind the full 60 minutes was the key for us tonight.
On a fourth straight playoff berth: That’s the whole point of why you play hockey, right? You play for the playoffs. You play for the win and to be the best team. We are very proud that we’re headed to the playoffs, but at the same time we just need to put our head down and go to work. We still have 10ish games, and we want to do it our way and keep building to the playoffs.
On Andrei Svechnikov: He can do it all. He’s more of a power forward, a big boy out there who skates super well and skates hard and hits everyone. But he actually has very good hands and good vision as well. I obviously like playing with him. He’s a great player.
On what was said after the first period: There’s always something said. To be honest, I don’t even remember what we were saying there.
On righting the ship after a comeback win: It feels really good. The first two periods we didn’t play very well, especially the first. But to have a third period like that is big for our confidence and just kind of getting back to the way we should have played the whole game. It’s nice to have at least one good period to take away from that game and hopefully it carries over.
On Jordan Staal’s equalizer: It was huge. He’s been on a tear lately. He’s always doing things right, just happens to be going in now. I expect a lot more from him.
On going to the Stanly Cup Playoffs: I know, isn’t that cool? I knew we were close but I didn’t know how close and then Roddy came in and said, “We’re in,” and I was like, “Ohhh!” I’m excited.
On his linemates: I think it was good. I’ve played with both of those guys before both separate times and together, so the chemistry is always kind of good. Just kind of stuck to it and especially our line. We knew we’d get our chances and when they came, we started to capitalize. It’s about not getting frustrated basically and just waiting for our opportunities.
On how fun it is to play with a player like Andrei Svechnikov: You said it, mayhem. It’s sick. All I have to do kind of is be first in the battles and just poke the puck free and he just wheels in there with his massive body and creates a bunch of chaos for everyone. It’s nice because a guy like me, I can kind of get lost and hopefully find those greasy goals.
On feeding off Sebastian Aho’s intensity: He gets really into it. I don’t yell quite as much as he does, but he definitely makes sure everyone is going. Especially when we play together. He’s always giving us tips and telling us what we need to do. It’s awesome to have him there to kind of feed off of his energy.
On if Aho yells in English or Finnish: Well, that’s the thing. I don’t know. Sometimes he’s yelling in Finnish and I’m like, “Oh, he could be talking about me and just doesn’t want to tell me,” but for the most part, he’s yelling in English. It’s nice when I can understand him.
On the crowd’s energy rising late in the game: It’s huge. When the crowd’s into it, it’s electric. It’s awesome. We didn’t give them too much to cheer about in the first period and a half, so it kind of makes sense, but when they get into it, it just amps everything up and makes it a lot tougher on the other team because we get all our energy from them. Like when they start yelling and cheering, everyone on the bench gets the jitters and going a bit harder.
On the black pants’ two-game emergence: I have no idea. With the white, I wasn’t a huge fan. I was like, “Hmm, this kind of looks weird,” but red I thought actually looked pretty good because there’s more black on our jerseys to go with it. But I don’t know what they were doing but it’s fine.
On what he thinks the playoffs will be like: Dude, you tell me. I don’t even know. I’m just excited. Obviously I’ve watched it on TV for 18 years basically... 20 years actually, but I just think it’s going to be intense and hard. Everyone says not a lot of offense comes out of it. It’s a lot about special teams and just not making mistakes. Obviously myself, I have to clean up a few things with my game to make sure I’m at my top level.
On clinching the playoff spot: Yeah, it’s great. It’s good news for this club, and we’ve worked hard to get here. We’ve got a long road ahead, but this was the first step. It’s definitely nice to celebrate.
On being part of these playoff teams now after where the team used to be: Absolutely. I’m glad I get to stick around long enough to be where we’re at now and be part of it and the solution. It’s exciting. Our fans have been great. They’ve jumped on board with this group, and we’ve really kind of elevated our game. I think there’s a really good future for this club.
On the slow start: The first period I think we were kind of choppy again, slow starts. We were choppy in the second. We were hanging around, at least, but we hadn’t really fully played and committed to our game. That third period was kind of exactly how we wanted it to look.
On his goal: Yeah, it was just another great forecheck chip by our line. [Jesper Fast] and Nino [Niederreiter] were on top of it. They were trying to find a quick play to get out, and we created a little turnover there. That’s kind of how you create chances, and [Fast] made a great play to [Brett Pesce] and obviously had a great look to find me as well. You hope when you have that time and opportunity that it’s going to go in, and I’m glad I got it.
On the playoffs and Jarvis getting ready for his first one: It’s a different animal. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s a grind. Really it’s the best time of year. I think he’s going to be great. I think he’s going to be excited and have fun with it. Every little play gets magnified that much more. All of those little things that we’ve been talking about all year long that we have to do well are magnified even more. It’s about the team that’s the sharpest. We’re going to have to be ready for any team coming up.
On what was said after the first period: There’s some words being said. That first period I thought our power play made some good plays. I think we had a fair amount of chances. It really was the second period that looked ugly. That was the kind of period where we needed to tell each other to wake up a little bit. I thought we responded in the third. Everyone did. We played a much simpler game. When we’re creating turnovers with our puck pressure that’s when we’re at our best, and it was evident with a few of those that we had. It was that kind of stuff.