Those with short memories will wake up on Tuesday morning remembering a fun win that saw the Canes notch four goals courtesy of a couple pretty hockey plays from the team’s stars.
While that may be the ending, it is not the full story of the Canes 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
The first two periods were more like a slog through the mud. In the first period, the Canes mustered only seven shots on net and by my count two decent not great scoring chances. The second period was mostly the same with limited shots on goal and not much for real scoring chances.
But then a single good play by Andrei Svechnikov, a laser labeled for the twine from the top of the face-off circle on the power play, staked the Canes to a 1-0 lead late in the second period.
As I said on Twitter:
And there is difference between old @Canes and new Canes…
Game has been largely 'meh' or worse, but this team has high-end players. Svechnikov with bit of help from Aho makes couple big plays such that scoreboard looks different than overall quality of play.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) January 19, 2021
The Hurricanes gave the goal back only 46 seconds later when Brady Skjei seemed to lose track of the fact that he and Brett Pesce had switched sides. When he drifted to his usual left side, there was no one behind him when a long pass sprung the Predators for a breakaway goal. But courtesy of strong netminding by James Reimer and a single great shot by Svechnikov, the Hurricanes were lucky to emerge from two periods of hockey with a 1-1 tie.
The third period would be the team’s best. Vincent Trocheck sniped a shot up under the cross bar from between the face-off circles to claim a 2-1 lead. From that point, the game opened up a bit with Nashville pressing for a goal and the more free flowing style of play with pace benefited the Hurricanes. Suddenly, the Canes had an offense again and were generating chances off the rush. Sure enough, the next goal would be a pretty play. Jake Gardiner made a heady pass to spring a 2-on-1 rush. Svechnikov held the puck long enough to keep the goalie needing to defend against a shot and then fed Aho who finished into a half-empty net. The game would tighten up late with a Predators goal, but a Nino Niederreiter empty-netter would seal a 4-2 Canes win.
The game had a couple very different chapters. The Canes effort level was fine through two periods, but the team looked anemic offensively. But the Cane high-end talent made the most of a limited number of chances with clutch finishing.
Player and other notes from the Hurricanes 4-2 win over the Predators
1) James Reimer
After a long layoff and with no preseason games to get ready, Reimer was solid in net. His team was the lesser team through two periods, but Reimer kept the Canes in it such that a late surge was enough.
2) Andrei Svechnikov
After literally a decade of needing to grind out a couple ugly goals to win, the Hurricanes are finally blessed with high-end offensive players who can convert a couple good chances into enough goals to win a hockey game. Against a good Predators defense, Monday was not a quantity day offensively for Svechnikov, but he was incredibly efficient making two skilled plays that directly resulted in goals.
3) Depth scoring emerging?
The Canes offense has been choppy through three games, but notable is the fact that a few players with the potential to make the Hurricanes much deeper scoring-wise are off to good starts. Counting his empty-netter on Monday, Nino Niederreiter has scored twice. And Vincent Trocheck now has two goals and an empty-net assist has three points already. Ryan Dzingel has also netted a goal. Each member of the trio has 25-30 goal potential. If one of two of them reach that total, the Hurricanes will have good pieces for secondary scoring behind the scoring leaders.
Next up is a quick turnaround for the second game of the set against the Predators on Tuesday at 8pm again.