TAMPA, Fla. — A frustrated Rod Brind’Amour expected more from his squad after they sleepwalked through a listless loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday night. Twenty-four hours later on the other coast of Florida, the Carolina Hurricanes responded in style.
Pyotr Kochetkov earned his first win of the season with a 22-save shutout, and four different players recorded goals as the Hurricanes shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Saturday at Amalie Arena, earning retribution for a whitewashing of their own in the same building just over two weeks prior. Sebastian Aho had a two point game, scoring for the second straight outing and nearly earning a second goal but missing an open net in the first period, and Teuvo Teravainen broke a four-game goal drought with what turned out to be the game winner just three minutes into the game.
“That’s what we were looking for,” Brind’Amour said. “I thought that we were on it. We got what we deserved tonight.”
Perhaps venting a bit of frustration with how Friday’s game unfolded, Michael Bunting and Tanner Jeannot threw down the gloves and earned fighting majors less than two minutes in. When Luke Glendening joined Jeannot in the Lightning penalty box a minute later, the Hurricanes had their chance, and Teravainen didn’t miss.
The Lightning were without Nikita Kucherov, a late scratch with an illness. Without the league’s second-leading scorer, their power play looked listless. They were noticeably more ordinary than the steamroller that won back-to-back Stanley Cups and did pretty much whatever they wanted in an era that spanned multiple seasons – an era in which Carolina, to their credit, has gone 5-3-2 in this building.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was succinct in his analysis: “Give Carolina credit, they came in a pretty determined group tonight, and they took it to us.”
It was a night of milestones for multiple Hurricanes. Brent Burns’ goal midway through the third period, nine seconds after he left the penalty box, was the 248th of his Hall of Fame career, breaking a tie with Brian Leetch for tenth all-time. Jaccob Slavin’s assist on Aho’s second-period marker gave him the all-time Hurricanes/Whalers franchise lead for assists by a defenseman.
And Stefan Noesen, who scored the final goal of the night with two minutes remaining just after a power play expired, tallied in his 300th game, for a team he says has become a special place after a journeyman career through six NHL organizations.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to get the chance to play here,” said Noesen, emphasizing the last word. “It’s not rocket science, the way that we play. We have a great group of guys, and it’s pretty easy to come into this locker room and try to help out.”
For his part, Kochetkov was solid, playing his first game since his recall from the AHL on November 6. Although he wasn’t tasked with much to do, his positioning was sound all night, and he seemed to rattle the increasingly frustrated Lightning all night, calmly skating away repeatedly in the third period when the Lightning continually crashed the net and the Hurricanes responded in defense of their goaltender.
With Frederik Andersen on the shelf for the foreseeable future and newly-signed Jaroslav Halak still working himself into game shape, the Hurricanes will need both Kochetkov and Antti Raanta to share the goaltending responsibilities for the next few weeks, and on tonight’s evidence Kochetkov is in much better shape to do so than he was before his assignment to the minors a few weeks ago.
After a stretch of 11 of their first 15 games on the road, the Hurricanes return home tonight, finally able to sleep in their own beds for more than a couple of nights at a time. Brind’Amour pointed out after the game how much of a grind the season’s opening month has been, and how nice it will be to return back to the comforts of home for an extended stretch, where they have yet to lose this season.
Their five-game homestand begins Wednesday when the Philadelphia Flyers visit PNC Arena for the first time this season.