After a disappointing 3-0 home loss to Nashville on Friday, a road match up against high-powered Tampa Bay on Saturday looked ominous.
But as has often been the case with this team since the start of 2019, the team again responded with its back against the wall a bit.
The front part of the first period had a good pace to it especially considering both teams played last night. The Hurricanes struck first when an Andrei Svechnikov power play shot trickled through goalie Curtis McElhinney. Sebastian Aho raked it in from within inches of the goal line to put the Canes up 1-0. Then only a couple minutes later, a heady stretch pass from Jaccob Slavin found Clark Bishop who managed to get a pass through Victor Hedman to a streaking Jordan Martinook who finished to put the Canes up 2-0. Then seemingly headed to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, the Hurricanes tallied again when a reversal at the tail end of the period saw Sebastian Aho shooting from the point and Jaccob Slavin in front of the net for a nifty tip goal to put the Hurricanes up 3-0 with only seven seconds remaining in the period.
The Hurricanes would play with fire but survive when Brock McGinn and Clark Bishop took penalties early in the second period to give the Lightning two power play chances. But James Reimer continued his strong play as the last line of defense, and the Hurricanes survived both of the penalty kills. From there, the rest of the second period was pretty evenly played. There were chances for and against, but both goalies stood tall, and the second period ended with the same 3-0 score as the first period.
The start of the third period again saw the Hurricanes play with fire with Jake Gardiner and Joel Edmundson taking early penalties. This time the Lightning capitalized on the opening when Brayden Point scored on the power play only 3:26 into the third period. When Tyler Johnson added a second goal 8:50 into the third period, a white knuckler was officially launched. The Hurricanes mostly just held on for dear life with the Lightning posting a 15-2 shot advantage and James Reimer helping the Canes hold on for a 3-2 win.
The game was reminiscent of the Hurricanes October win over Florida when the Hurricanes scored early and then too much required on Reimer to make that lead hold up. The game was also a bit similar to the win over the Blackhawks that saw the Hurricanes play well and hold a lead into the third period. Just like this game, the Hurricanes did a number of things well but then also had to rely a bit too much on just holding on for dear life at the end.
Player and other notes
1) James Reimer
Reimer’s top line numbers are not overly impressive, but he has done has done his part as a backup to help the Hurricanes collect points in some of the season’s tougher games. Reimer is now a respectable 5-4-0, and I think his level of play in total has been better than that. With three straight wins and strong performances in each, it will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour gives Reimer a chance to go on a run.
The Canes defense in total had a good night. Slavin/Hamilton had a solid night a good night against a high-powered offense and chipped in a goal and three assists to boot.
3) Clark Bishop
His role is a minor one, and evidence suggests his offense is limited, but I like what he brings to the lineup. He had a pretty assist on Martinook’s goal, a good scoring chance for himself and was also involved in the play where Foegele somehow shot over an empty net. All in all, he had another solid night in a depth role. Bishop’s partner in crime, Jordan Martinook, also had another good night playing a rugged game and finally being rewarded with his first goal of the season.
4) Sebastian Aho
Hockey can be a strange game. Some games a player makes multiple spectacular plays but is not rewarded on the score sheet. Other nights just making good small plays and being in the right place at the right time is enough. Hanging out at the top of the crease was enough to net him a goal from two inches out. And then he netted an assist by just getting a puck to the front of the net from where Slavin finished.
5) The penalty kill
The penalty kill did give up a power play goal against on six shorthanded sequences. That is not perfect obviously, but I still thought the penalty kill was a positive helping the team dodge bullets with multiple penalties to start the second and third periods.
Next up is another road match up against a marquee team in the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.