Kochetkov stopped all of the 19 shots he was tasked with facing on Thursday night, and a raucous PNC Arena crowd enjoyed another Hurricanes victory, this time over their lowly division-rival Flyers.
It was a quiet night for much of it, with the Hurricanes tallying just one goal on fellow rookie goalie Felix Sandstrom. Sandstrom entered the game with an abysmal 1-8-1 record on the season, paired with an equally poor .880 save percentage.
On Thursday, he didn’t look like one of the worst goalies in the league. He was dominant, but that dominance didn’t start until after the Hurricanes got on the board.
At 2:09 of the opening period, the Canes capitalized on an early power play opportunity through a great passing play that ended with a shot off the stick of Andrei Svechnikov in the slot.
Brent Burns and Martin Necas were the ones to set things up for Carolina’s suddenly hot goal-scoring winger. Svechnikov is now up to 23 goals on the season and four in his last eight games. This run has come at a great time for Svechnikov, whose lengthy goal drought was well-documented.
The early goal was one of several great chances that Svechnikov had against the Flyers. Thanks to the 57+ minutes of terrific goaltending that Sandstrom delivered, including a number of phenomenal displays of athleticism and recovery, the Flyers were in the game from start to finish.
The only problem, though, was that Carolina’s defense gave up next to nothing. Philadelphia’s best chance came on a Joel Farabee breakaway try that Kochetkov stared down and rejected with a great stick.
Kochetkov made a few additional big stops, particularly down the stretch with the Flyers looking to secure that elusive tying goal. By and large, though, it was the Hurricanes’ stout defensive effort that kept the Flyers on the outside of the offensive zone.
Though there was never much of a physical tone to the game, the Hurricanes did experience an injury scare with Svechnikov after he was involved in a neutral zone collision. He got a skate to the thigh, which naturally caused a great deal of concern. He went straight to the Canes locker room, but he returned shortly thereafter and played through the rest of the game, logging 18:16 of ice time.
Svechikov addressed the play after the game, saying, “I thought it would be a bigger cut, but I just tried to hold it because it hurt for one minute, but after that it was fine.”
The injury occurred on the same day that Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin suffered a significant laceration above his knee. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, lacerations have become a topic of discussion for the league ahead of next week’s GM meetings.
Keep an eye on Tyler Seguin. He suffered a bad laceration above his knee tonight. Unrelated, but I know the NHL will take a closer look at these incidents and the protection available to help offset the significance of some, not all, next week at the GM meetings.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 10, 2023
The Hurricanes had just one penalty to kill on the night, and they did so without much issue. They’ve now gone nine consecutive games without allowing a power play goal.
On the topic of great stretches, Kochetkov’s shutout was his fourth in just 20 NHL games played this season. He is the first rookie goalie since Martin Jones in 2013-14 to have three shutouts in 20 or fewer games. He now has an 11-5-4 record with the big club this season, a mark which includes the 0-3-1 stretch prior to him getting sent back to the Chicago Wolves for more work.
That work certainly did him well tonight, as he looked comfortable and in control of his crease from start to finish.
The Hurricanes will remain in Raleigh for their next matchup when they host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night. Carolina dropped their other matchup with Vegas at the beginning of the month, so Saturday will present them with a chance to get even.