The set up was similar to Thursday night in that the Hurricanes had a home match up against a strong opponent but also 1 that had played and traveled the night before. Washington was coming off of a late 8:30pm Eastern start in Chicago and the late late night journey that followed it. The start was also similar in that the Hurricanes started okay and had the better of the shot totals early but did not get immediately rewarded. But from there the stories diverge significantly. On Thursday a sloppy second period staked the opponent to a lead and ultimately a win. On Saturday, the Hurricanes kept pushing, broke through and surged to a fun 5-1 win.
Per my post this morning, the game also parallels early last December in that it featured AHL call ups. Last December the call ups resulted in a win and a burst of energy that carried forward for 3 months. Here is hoping that the result is similar this time around except with the earlier transaction date that gives the Hurricanes more time to move up the standings.
Recap for Hurricanes 5-1 win over the Capitals
As noted above, the game started much like Thursday’s game with the Hurricanes getting the better of things early. Despite the strong start, the Capitals found the score sheet first on an all too common defensive coverage break down when the combination of Klas Dahlbeck and Ron Hainsey failed to take away a passing lane back to the middle of the ice (Dahlbeck) and failed to identify a Kuznetsov skating into the slot for a pass (Hainsey). Ward had no chance on the shot, and the game suddenly had the feel of the Anaheim loss on Thursday.
But the Hurricanes rebounded only 35 seconds later when Sebastian Aho found the puck to the right of the net and quickly finished for his first NHL goal. The newly-minted line of Aho/Staal/Teravainen getting on the score sheet would become a recurring theme. Next came Teravainen’s turn to put the Hurricanes up 2-1 to finish the first period, and then came Staal’s turn finishing a rebound chance on a Teravainen shot on the power play in the second period. Aho would add another goal into an empty net on a Teravainen shot to give the line 4 goals on the night. Victor Rask would add the other goal with a tough angle rebound on a Klas Dahlbeck shot off the end boards, and Cam Ward played well on a night he had the easier set of chances by far.
‘What I’m watching’ recap
You can find my ‘what I’m watching’ style preview for the game HERE.
1) The new personnel
The AHL call ups did not so much drive the win nor did they show up in the scoring plays, but all did well in their 2016-17 debut. McGinn set up line mate Derek Ryan for a point blank scoring chance early. Ryan logged 14:30 of ice time including 5:58 on the power play and also won 9 of 15 face-offs. Tennyson played the good version of a quiet hockey game on the back end logging 12:17 of ice time and steering clear of trouble against a good Caps lineup.
2) A spark for the rest of the lineup
The Hurricanes did play with jump to loose pucks and have a skating advantage. Only time will tell if it was a 1-night event due to a road weary Caps team, the instant magic of the new Aho/Staal/Teravainen line or something more sustainable across the entire lineup.
3) Jordan Staal’s line plus Slavin/Pesce
I did not know about Staal’s new line mates when I wrote my game preview early this morning, but Staal’s line was obviously tremendous. Slavin/Pesce also had a sound and solid game.
4) Puck possession
More so than a pure puck possession game, I would credit the Hurricanes success on Saturday to being faster and attacking/shooting whenever given the chance. The Hurricanes had a huge shot advantage and scored a couple goals that came on rebounds because they took a good simple shot when given the chance.
Cam Ward: He had a relatively easy night especially compared to Grubauer, but did the work that was asked of him. A single goal against is obviously a good night.
Aho/Staal/Teravainen: One cannot read too much into a single game, but the new line was lights out and will obviously play together again on Tuesday. The complementary skill sets just might work. Jordan Staal is incredibly good at gaining possession of the puck and when necessary transporting it from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. But even when playing well with Nestrasil and Nordstrom, the line’s ceiling was modest scoring-wise. Teravainen and Aho are skilled young players with the puck on their sticks, but in version 1 of their Hurricanes start with Elias Lindholm they seemed to actually have the puck very little and therefore generated very little in terms of scoring chances. On Saturday, the ratio of offense that they played compared to defense was high which is a recipe for Aho and Teravainen playing to their strengths. I will definitely be watching the trio closely on Tuesday to see if they can repeat.
Sebastian Aho: Good for him finally netting his first NHL goal with his parents in attendance.
Next up is game 3 of the 5-game home stand against San Jose on Tuesday.