After an emotional weekend that featured 3 straight losses and some popular players being traded away, the sun came out again on Tuesday and the suddenly much younger Hurricanes got back to playing hockey. And even better the results were tremendous.
The game mostly a slug through the mud offensively for the entirety of the game. But the Canes fought hard, leaned heavily on Eddie Lack and hung around long enough that a couple big plays could win a hockey game. And win they did. The Canes were outplayed in the first period but not by a huge margin, and Eddie Lack was beaten only by a double deflection on which he had no chance. But early in the second period on the power play, Derek Ryan found the puck on his stick in close range and made no mistake burying his first NHL goal in his first NHL game as a 29-year old rookie. New Jersey surged late in the second period and especially in the third period, but the Canes mostly avoided the bad breakdowns that have plagued them of late and gave Eddie Lack a chance to keep them in it until a nice play from Jaccob Slavin to Elias Lindholm for a rebound chance and goal for Joakim Nordstrom put the Canes up late. A Nathan Gerbe empty-netter pushed the Canes to a 3-1 lead.
A few player and other notes:
1) Derek Ryan
What a tremendous feel good story! His unconventional path to the NHL included overage years in juniors followed by Canadian college hockey and then a stop in Austria and Sweden. Find me another player who did overage, Canadian college and Austria. I dare you. He is a testament to passionately chasing dreams and overcoming obstacles, setbacks and naysayers.
Aside from the phenomenal story, Ryan also played a solid hockey game. The finish for a goal on the power play was the headline, but he also won 12 of 19 face-offs and proved capable of matching the NHL pace.
2) Eddie Lack
If not for the great Derek Ryan story, Eddie Lack would easily have been the story of the game. He was beaten only by a puck that seemed to get deflected twice. Other than that shot on which he had no chance, he shut the door. New Jersey was probably the better team and won the shots on goal battle 30 to 19. But Lack stood tall in his first start since February 18 and was the best player on the ice for the Canes.
3) Jaccob Slavin
He seems to have very quickly gone from being a fill in top 4 defenseman to simply a top 4 defenseman. He led the team in ice time and notched assists on both of the 2 non-empty net goals.
4) An even try out
In the first game with a bunch of new players in tow and a couple key ones gone, Bill Peters spread ice time very evenly at forward. The top was Lindholm at 18:17, and the bottom was Brad Malone at 11:26.
5) Exactly what the Canes community needed
After a draining 4-5 days with a losing streak and the trade deadline, this game was exactly what the Canes community needed. No one knows where this season goes from here, but today Canes hockey was fun again which is how it should be.
Next up is a 3 days off before a Saturday match up on the road against Tampa Bay.