After the dust settled after a couple of notable pre-deadline trades for the Carolina Hurricanes, they were tasked with kicking off a brief road trip through the South West.
That trip started with a date with the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night. Like Carolina, Vegas entered the game on a good run, having collected seven wins in their previous ten outings.
Vegas’ good fortunes continued against the visiting Hurricanes, who struggled through much of their offensive execution against a staunch Vegas defense.
A slow opening frame came and went without a goal, despite Carolina pinning Vegas in their own zone for some extended periods. A late-period Martin Necas hooking penalty gave the Golden Knights the game’s first power play, but the Hurricanes held them without a shot on Frederik Andersen.
Things opened up in the second period, but mostly for Vegas and Jack Eichel. Eichel extended a good stretch of offense by chipping in two second-period tallies, starting with a scorching laser beam of a wrist shot from the top of the circles at 5:11.
Eichel scored again on a breakaway in the final minutes of the middle frame for Vegas’ second goal of the night, but in between those goals, Martin Necas had a highlight of his own.
Necas took the puck from end-to-end to score a dazzling goal to tie the game up. Then, the Hurricanes appeared to have taken their first lead of the night.
Eichel's second goal of the night came just moments after Carolina thought they had their first lead of the evening.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) March 2, 2023
Andrei Svechnikov put home the rebound of a Brent Burns shot, but the whistle came first. pic.twitter.com/GzY8GjeD34
An early whistle robbed Andrei Svechnikov and the Hurricanes of a hugely important second goal, and it was just moments later that Eichel made it 2-1 for Vegas.
The Golden Knights outshot the Hurricanes 11-6 in the second period and controlled much of the action, all of which was at 5-on-5. It was a rare night where Carolina struggled mightily to mount consecutive strong offensive shifts.
That, however, changed at times in the third period. After going nearly half of the period without doing much to threaten Vegas’ slim lead, a few shifts turned the tides in their favor and set the table for Jordan Staal.
Brent Burns rifled a point shot toward Aidan Hill, and the Vegas goalie had no chance to stop a high-slot deflection from Staal to tie the game at two.
The tie game wasn’t meant to last, though. With just 3:41 to go in the third period, Reilly Smith cashed in a gorgeous feed from Mike Amadio to give Vegas their third one-goal lead of the night.
Rod Brind’Amour burned his timeout and pulled Andersen for a sixth attacker ahead of an offensive zone faceoff with 1:59 to go in the third. That timeout proved useless, though, as the Hurricanes immediately got flushed out of the Vegas zone and weren’t let back in for almost two minutes of in-game time.
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy game for the Hurricanes, who dropped their second straight game on the back end of a five-game winning streak. The New Jersey Devils are now just one point back of the division-leading Hurricanes after going to Denver and beating the Colorado Avalanche 7-5.
The Hurricanes will go to Arizona, likely with former Coyote Shane Gostisbehere in the lineup, and take on the ‘Yotes on Friday before returning home on Sunday.