While a lot of the attention was on Ward, Canes forward Seth Jarvis sort of stole the spotlight as he picked up his first career NHL hat trick.
It wasn’t pretty early for the Hurricanes as the Montreal Canadiens, fielding what’s essentially a 50% AHL roster, kept pace with them and eventually even struck first.
A misplay in the o-zone by Calvin de Haan ended with Michael Pezzetta getting in alone on Antti Raanta. Raanta actually made the initial save, but Pezzetta apparently was a dual-athlete when he was younger as he dexterously baseball batted the puck out of midair and past Raanta.
“I liked our game for the most part tonight,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “We gave up a couple of chances that we’d like to have back, but that’s the NHL. You’re going to give up some opportunities. I liked how we played hard. I thought tonight I thought we were solid for the most part, especially the third.”
That goal must have shocked the Canes back into focus because it didn’t take long for them to strike back.
After being sprung from the defensive zone by a Martin Necas half-wall play, Jesperi Kotkaniemi raced up the ice with Teuvo Teravainen on a 2-on-1. However, KK didn’t utilize his fellow Finn, instead electing to take it all the way himself where he finished off the rush with a backhander, top-shelf.
And moments after that, Andrei Svechnikov won a puck battle, forcing a turnover in the offensive zone. He got the puck up to an incoming Sebastian Aho who swiftly found Seth Jarvis alone in front of the net for the go-ahead goal.
The Canes put the pressure on from there, but halfway through the second period, they started to lose some steam. Montreal and Carolina played some ugly, neutral zone nothingness and eventually Svechnikov was whistled for an iffy penalty after muscling Justin Barron off of a puck.
The Habs scored on the ensuing power play as Mike Hoffman, from below the goal line, found Rafael Harvey-Pinard in the low circle for a one-timer blast to tie it back up.
So if that first goal against them shocked their systems, this goal sent the Hurricanes into maximum overdrive.
“The third period was textbook how we want to play,” Sebastian Aho said. “It was a good win.”
Just over two minutes into the third period, Aho was on the spot with the net front presence to collect and pot a Calvin de Haan shot.
Then a minute or so after that, Jarvis got to the net front to push in a Brent Burns shot. The fact that Burns even got the shot off on net in the first place was crazy being that he stickhandled through four Canadiens along the way.
“He’s a great player and then he’s got the ability to do the special plays and that was just all him,” Brind’Amour said. “A little risky. He’s the last man back and dangling two defenders and goes right back, but he has the ability to do that and he’s pretty much done that his whole career.”
About another minute after that, the Canes’ third line joined in on the fun as Jordan Martinook found Jordan Staal on the rush and the captain buried it.
So in just five minutes, the Hurricanes scored three more goals to push their lead out of reach.
As the game came to a close, Kotkaniemi found himself back in the box and Jarvis somehow was out there on the ice for the penalty kill.
One clear later, Jarvis is sprung on a breakaway and he finishes it to complete the hat trick.
“I was begging [Gleason],” Jarvis said about getting out there for the final penalty kill. “I was grabbing on his pant leg to let me out there because sometimes they put me out there in those situations. I think I messed up the PK pretty good there. There were a couple of close calls, but you can’t argue with a shorthanded goal so maybe that made up for it.”
“I don’t think it’s set in yet. That’s a pretty incredible feeling. My dad and brother came in last night, so to have them here to witness that means the world to me. That’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was little kid so to be able to do that with the help of my teammates is everything for me.”
It’s been a busy week for the Canes who have had their Dad and Mentors trip, Ward’s Hall of Fame induction and now the outdoor game is just a day away.
“We’ve kind of compacted a whole bunch of great moments here and you kind of wish you didn’t have it all at once,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s like having a birthday right around Christmas. You kind of get hosed, right? You wish you could spread them out a little because these are... each individual one is special.”
But they are jam packed and now the Hurricanes can prepare for the biggest game of the week as the Stadium Series match with the Washington Capitals at Carter-Finely Stadium is set for Saturday.
“We want to play a good hockey game but at the same time, it’s a special night and just try to enjoy it as best as we can,” Aho said.