It was a much more productive week for the Carolina Hurricanes, who collected two wins in three tries to end their four-game losing streak, but the way it ended via a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks was a sour note to enter a three-day break on.
The Hurricanes managed to pick up five of a possible six points after ending their skid, though, a string of movement in the standings that is responsible for keeping them in first place in the Metropolitan Division entering Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
The New Jersey Devils are surging again, though, having won five straight games to put themselves neck-and-neck with the Hurricanes. This week’s Quick Whistles takes a look at the aftermath of the Vancouver loss, Sebastian Aho, returning players from injury, and more.
Vancouver Collapse Aftermath
It looked like the Hurricanes were on their way to starting another winning streak during the weekend after consecutive wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins, but those hopes were spoiled by the Canucks.
Two first-period goals, one from Paul Stastny and one from Jordan Martinook, put the Hurricanes in the driver’s seat on home ice, but a response from former Hurricanes Ethan Bear in the second period, followed by a game-tying tally by J.T. Miller in the first half of period three tied the game going into the home stretch of the third period.
Sebastian Aho stayed hot with a late third-period goal to put the Hurricanes back in the lead, but it was all Canucks after that. Brock Boeser tied the game again with just 17 seconds left in regulation time, and then Elias Petterson scored in the bottom of the third round to end Vancouver’s four-game losing streak.
Pyotr Kochetkov was sent back down to AHL Chicago after allowing three goals on 32 shots. It was far from his worst performance as of late, but it was another deflating loss for a rookie goaltender that hasn’t found his game again after missing time due to an injury in December.
With Frederik Andersen healthy and performing very well, it makes sense to let Kochetkov get back on top of things with less pressure in the AHL. He tended the net for the Wolves’ 6-2 win over the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday.
The health of Carolina’s goalie tandem will likely play a key role in whether Kochetkov will make another NHL appearance this season, but if he simply shows out in Chicago over the next few weeks, that would certainly improve his chances of returning to the big club.
Hopefully, this stint in the AHL will be a productive one for the young goalie and his confidence.
Sebastian Aho, Carolina’s Centers, Injuries
Getting Sebastian Aho back from injury has been, as expected, a huge boost for the Hurricanes in all areas. The star center has points in five straight games, including his go-ahead goal in the third period on Sunday.
He is the only Carolina player at or above a point per game on the season after Martin Necas’ recent scoring slump. Necas’ linemate Paul Stastny, however, has started to find his groove in the Hurricanes’ lineup.
Stastny scored against Vancouver and has seven points over his last 11 games. He had just seven points in 32 games with the team prior to December 23. It took a while to get Stastny-like production out of the veteran pivot, and much of that can be attributed to his fourth-line role for much of the season, but he has performed admirably since getting the bump. He’s averaged 15:00 of ice time over his last 11 games after seeing just 12:04 on average in his first 32 games.
Jordan Staal is expected to return to the lineup against Minnesota, which will do a world of good for the club. The captain missed the Vancouver game due to a personal matter. Max Pacioretty is also expected to re-enter the lineup after missing a couple of games with a lower-body injury unrelated to his Achilles tear.
The Hurricanes had the opportunity to participate in Eastern North Carolina’s Make-A-Wish program by welcoming Jojo to PNC Arena on Wednesday. He went out on the ice with the team, participated in some rigorous Rod Brind’Amour faceoff drills, and took pictures with Sebastian Aho and Justin Williams.
The #Canes had a special visitor today, as JoJo joined them at practice. His wish was to meet Sebastian Aho and the team.— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 19, 2023
He and his family will be at the game tomorrow night, where he’ll sound the siren and watch the game from a suite ❤️#LetsGoCanes | @MakeAWishEastNC pic.twitter.com/bsX5AJyq5j
Jojo will sound the siren tonight before the Hurricanes take on the Wild on home ice and be in attendance with his family for the game.