At the beginning of the month, I noted that the stretch of schedule was generally very favorable. The Canes had a run of 13 straight games against teams that missed the playoffs last season. With a 1-3 start to that stretch, the Hurricanes demonstrated how little schedule matters when a team is not playing well. But I think on Thursday, the schedule did provide a bit of a boost. The spirited but messy effort that the Hurricanes put forward would not likely have been enough against a good team having a good night. But some combination of timely scoring and resiliency were enough to climb to a 5-4 overtime win and push the current streak to two wins.
Recap for the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres
With both teams needing points, Thursday’s match up between the Hurricanes and Sabres had a tentative start. Both teams made safe plays and were sound defensively leading to a game of ping pong early. The Sabres had the better of it early drawing and early penalty and having Jack Eichel shake free of Sebastian Aho for a point blank chance that Petr Mrazek snagged with his glove. But not too much later, the Sabres broke through first when Lucas Wallmark lost track of Jeff Skinner out in front of the net. The former Cane made no mistake labeling a shot for the back of the net. The first period was tilted in the Sabres favor when a deflected Jordan Staal shot floated softly into the net behind Carter Hutton courtesy of a Warren Foegele screen. The Hurricanes would take a lead late when power play catalyst Teuvo Teravainen seemingly used an angled Sebastian Aho stick to find the net with no adjustment required by Aho. In total, the Hurricanes would survive a couple penalties and couple missed coverages and emerge from the period with a 2-1 lead.
The Hurricanes pushed early in the second period and were rewarded again. Sustained offensive zone time resulted in a point shot, a heady pass by Svechnikov and another finish by Aho to put the Hurricanes up 3-1. The goal was later credited to Teravainen whose stick it tipped off, but it was Aho’s work. The remainder of the second period was fairly open with both teams taking and giving chances. Petr Mrazek continued to have a strong night making some timely saves with a 3-1 lead. But Buffalo struck next when Haydn Fleury fired off the forward in front of him leading to a deflection behind him, a breakaway and a goal against. The Sabres seemed to gain some jump from the goal, but Mrazek held the fort late to get the Canes to the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.
Needing a goal to tie the game, Buffalo pushed in the third period. Mrazek continued to stand tall, and the Hurricanes largely just kept holding on. Then, just when it seemed that three goals might be enough, Brett Pesce and Ryan Dzingel failed to connect on a pass in th defensive zone. It is not clear if the pass was off a little, but Dzingel needs to at a minimum get enough of the After giving away the lead, Andrei Svechnikov scored a huge goal worth the second point in the standings when he sniped what could have been a power play game-winner with four minutes remaining in the game. But the Hurricanes were unable to clear the puck with an extra Buffalo attacker on multiple times and ultimately paid the price when Buffalo squeaked a game-tying goal through Mrazek to tie the game at 4-4.
Sebastian Aho pushed toward the net early in overtime. Brett Pesce helped save a 2-on-1 and fish the puck out of the crease. And Martin Necas used his speed and shiftiness to go end to end, cross the front of the net and ultimately find Dougie Hamilton who continues to be the team’s best finisher.
Blowing two leads in the third period and another bout of ‘iffy’ defensive play at times was not ideal, but at the end of the day two points is two points.
Player and other notes
1) Teuvo Teravainen
He had a big game offensively. Ironically, his goal was an odd one, but he also had two assists on a night when the Hurricanes needed five to win.
2) Joel Edmundson
The scoring outburst on Monday was fun, but I think more significant longer-term is that Edmundson has had a couple sound games defensively since returning to the top 4 alongside Brett Pesce. More than anything, the team needs a steady, stabilizing presence out of that #4 defense slot, somewhat similar to what Calvin de Haan was in 2018-19.
3) Sebastian Aho
His game is interesting. Early in the season, he was making some plays as a playmaker but with many of those going to snake bitten Nino Niederreiter, not much came from them. More recently, Aho has actually been fairly quiet in terms of playmaking but has reverted to a simple game of going to where goals happen. And the puck has found him to the tune of a nice batch of in-close goals recently including two more on Thursday (realizing that one was credited to Teravainen). He was also assertive in overtime with the puck on his stick on two occasions which is exactly what one would want from a team’s top offensive player.
4) Petr Mrazek
His final line is unimpressive with four goals against on just over 30 shots, but I thought he was better than that. The quality of chances that the team gave up were significantly above normal, and Mrazek was forced to make a number of good saves in all three periods. He gets credit for battling and doing his part even if the ending numbers were not pretty.
5) Martin Necas in overtime
His straight line speed and even more so shiftiness are made for overtime hockey. His inability to play the body at the defensive blue ended an earlier overtime game with a loss. On Thursday, his natural ability with space and the puck on his stick led directly to the game-winner and picking up the second point in the standings.
6) Special teams
Two power play markers and a perfect three for three on the penalty kill were arguably what got the Canes to overtime at all and made it possible to net a win. Though it was sort of wasted, Svechnikov’s late power play goal was exactly the type of goal that converts even, winnable games into wins.
7) Dougie Hamilton
For as harsh as I have been on his defensive play lately (he was one of the players who had the puck on his stick before the late tying goal), he continues to be elite offensively. From a distance and angle that was nothing special, he fired a laser into a corner to seize a win.
Next up for the Hurricanes is an odd 2pm game against Minnesota on Saturday. If you are someone who will forget about it, here is your early warning to set your DVR now.