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About Last Night: New Year, Same Canes

The Carolina Hurricanes started 2023 the same way they ended 2022: Winning.

Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images

The changing of the calendar couldn’t cool off the Carolina Hurricanes, as the Canes beat the Devils 5-4 in a shootout on New Year’s Day to extend their franchise-record win streak to 11 games and franchise-record point streak to 17 games.

For the Hurricanes, it definitely wasn’t the smoothest game they’ve played in the last month and a half, but the result was a win nonetheless.

About last night:

Bottom Six shines, again

There’s a lot of hockey cliches and obvious statements that will present themselves during a win and point streak like the Canes are currently on, and one that has been a consistent for Carolina during the streak has been that it’s getting contribution from everyone.

On Sunday against New Jersey, it was the Canes’ bottom two lines that really made the difference. Rod Brind’Amour would probably tell you that they don’t number the lines, but it’s also not crazy to say that the lines with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov are the Canes’ top two.

But against the Devils, it was those other two that really stole the show. The fourth line of Derek Stepan, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen was absolutely exceptional, contributing two of Carolina’s four goals (both from Stepan), while leading the team with a 75 CF%. In addition to the two goals he did have, Stepan probably could have had another, as the Canes’ fourth line dominated when it was on the ice.

And then the third line of Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast was also excellent, as it has been pretty much all year. That line didn’t find the scoresheet, but it did lead the Hurricanes with 0.67 expected goals, spent more time on the ice than the Aho line and was overall just a tough grouping to handle for New Jersey.

During this win streak, the Canes have gotten some good production from the top. But they’ve also gotten some really fantastic production from the bottom six, too. Staal had an extensive point streak himself, Noesen has played noticeably well and the Canes’ ability to not have any letup with whatever line is on the ice has been absolutely huge.

Aho, Svechnikov show specialties

Ripping these fun stats straight from the Canes’ recap (thanks, Walt Ruff), both Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov did things Sunday that they’ve become pretty elite at.

For Aho, it was a shorthanded goal in the second period that gave Carolina a 2-1 lead. Aho won the pack in the neutral zone, lost control of it and then got it back and scored after Mackenzie Blackwood badly misplayed it. And for Aho, that’s the 13th shorthanded goal he’s had since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, and he leads the league in that category over that time frame.

Aho’s got a great mix of skills to lead to the shorthanded efforts, which certainly aren’t a product of chance. He plays on the penalty kill because he’s not a liability defensively, he’s got an elite burst of speed and can finish one-on-one. All of those things contribute to why he has a knack for scoring shorthanded.

And for Svechnikov, he netted the game winner in the penalty shootout to keep Carolina’s win streak alive. Since the beginning of 2018-19, Svechnikov has six (!!!) shootout-deciding goals. That’s a franchise record already and the most in the NHL during that time period.

Svechnikov and Aho obviously are elite players that do so, so much well. But they’re also elite players that have these fun little specialties.

Raanta Is Human After All

Before he was scored upon in the second period, Antti Raanta had extended his shutout streak to 163:52, the longest in the NHL this season. Between Raanta’s just-ended streak and Pyotr Kochetkov’s scoreless run earlier in December, the Hurricanes have two of the three longest shutout streaks in the NHL this season.

How good has Raanta been? He’s 7-0-0 in his last seven decisions and hasn’t lost a game since two days after Thanksgiving, and somehow that almost seems like an afterthought.

With all of that in mind, it’s no surprise that a day after Kochetkov was named the rookie of the month, Raanta was named the NHL’s third star of the week. The release from the league is below.

Other Notes

  • This is the Canes’ third overtime/shootout win in a row, a promising note given how poorly Carolina performed playing extra hockey early in the season.
  • With another win over the Devils, the Canes now have a seven-point lead in the Metro over New Jersey with the same amount of games played. Kind of crazy considering the Devils were in the lead just two weeks ago when they came to Raleigh.

Netminder has won each of his last seven decisions

The National Hockey League today announced that Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta has been named the NHL’s “Third Star” for the week ending Jan. 1.

Raanta, 33, registered a 3-0-0 record, 1.30 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and two shutouts in three starts last week. Among all NHL goaltenders with multiple games played, he ranked first in shutouts and goals-against average, tied for first in wins and fifth in save percentage. The 6’0”, 190-pound netminder opened the week with a 24-save shutout over Chicago on Dec. 27 before posting a 19-save shutout over Florida on Dec. 30. Raanta recorded back-to-back shutouts for the second time in his NHL career and joined Pyotr Kochetkov (Dec. 10-13) as the second Hurricanes goaltender to accomplish the feat this season, marking just the eighth time in NHL history that a team had two different netminders post shutouts in consecutive team games within a single campaign. Raanta finished the week by making 24 saves in regulation and overtime and stopping all three of the Devils’ shootout attempts to earn the first shootout win of his Hurricanes career against New Jersey on Jan. 1. He held opponents scoreless for 163:54 over parts of four games from Dec. 23-Jan. 1, marking the longest shutout sequence by any NHL netminder in 2022-23 and the third-longest shutout streak in franchise history. Raanta is currently on a six-game win streak dating back to Dec. 17 against Dallas, and he has won each of his last seven decisions dating back to Nov. 26 against Calgary.

Raanta has posted a 10-2-2 record, 2.62 goals-against average, .897 save percentage and two shutouts in 15 appearances with Carolina in 2022-23 and ranks tied with Pyotr Kochetkov for the team lead in wins. Raanta and Kochetkov have combined for a league-leading five shutouts, and the Hurricanes are the only team with multiple shutouts from two different goaltenders. Raanta has become the third different Hurricanes goaltender to receive NHL Star of the Week honors, joining Cam Ward (six times) and Frederik Andersen (Second Star, week ending Jan. 30, 2022). The Rauma, Finland, native has earned a 118-72-26 record, 2.47 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and 17 shutouts in 241 career NHL games with Chicago, NY Rangers, Arizona and Carolina, and he ranks ninth in wins and eighth in shutouts among all Finnish netminders in league history.