The Carolina Hurricanes — fresh off two shutouts and eight scoreless periods of hockey — found their offense once again Tuesday night, beating the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in PNC Arena to get back to their winning ways.
The win was a needed morale boost for the Canes and their fans, as Andrei Svechnikov was ruled out for the season with a knee injury to compound the pain of the recent offensive drought. But led by Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Hurricanes helped fans forget about that for a little bit Tuesday.
About last night:
Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s night
Kotkaniemi scored two goals for the Hurricanes Tuesday night, a wraparound effort in the second period and an empty netter late. With those two goals, Kotkaniemi has 14 on the season, a new career high for the Finn who also sits at a career high 33 points.
Give Brady Skjei a multi-point night, as he earns the secondary helper here.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) March 15, 2023
The 13th tally of the season for #82. pic.twitter.com/WeMPit1dsm
And those totals are thanks to a couple of fantastic games over the past couple weeks. On March 5, Kotkaniemi had five points in a thrilling win over the Lightning. Now 10 days later, Kotkaniemi registered three points and two goals against the Jets, his first multi-goal effort of the season and his second game with three or more points (the first being that Tampa game, of course).
And beyond just the scoring, Kotkaniemi was notable across the board Tuesday night. He had a team-high four hits in the game, and also led the team in expected goals, chances for and high-danger chances for. He was noticeable from the very first period, playing well alongside Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen once again for a line that had double the Corsi for of any other Carolina forward line Tuesday night.
His numbers aren’t staggering by any means, but Kotkaniemi is putting together a pretty strong season in his second year in Carolina. He’s shown in bursts what he’s capable of, and Tuesday night he helped lift a team that needed some lifting.
Blue liners scoring...again
The Canes needed a goal or two, and once again it was Carolina’s defensemen that provided that. Jaccob Slavin got things started in the first period, netting the Hurricanes’ first goal in nearly 200 minutes of play to make things 1-0.
Fascinating, and true:— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) March 14, 2023
Jaccob Slavin has now scored in each of his last four games against the Winnipeg Jets. pic.twitter.com/yCyCiVqDQs
Then early in the second period, Brady Skjei scored to make it a 2-1 Hurricanes’ lead, his 13th goal of the season.
That's too much space to give #76.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) March 15, 2023
The second goal of the night for Carolina's blue line. pic.twitter.com/yOyQ1dHz0H
At this point, it’s been very well documented just how deadly Carolina’s blue line has been in contributing to the offensive play. But Tuesday night the team desperately needed some goals, and it was the guys in the back that helped light the spark.
Some fourth-line magic
The best teams need production from all four lines, and the Canes got that lift from their fourth line Tuesday night.
The fourth unit of Derek Stepan, Stefan Noesen and Jack Drury — playing his first game with the NHL squad since December — led the Canes’ forward units in CF%, creating three high-danger chances while scoring a goal in just 7:33 on the ice at 5-on-5.
Drury was the goal scorer, giving the Hurricanes a needed insurance goal in the third period to extend things to a 4-2 lead.
Additionally, Noesen had the assist on that one to set a new career high in points, while also stepping up and fighting after a rough hit injured Jordan Martinook.
The fourth unit played well Tuesday, and they contributed in a big way to the win.