After a dud in a 3-0 loss the Nashville for the lone home game over Thanksgiving weekend, the Hurricanes offered much more holiday cheer on a fun night in front of a full house on a Saturday night.
There was a 6-2 win with plenty of goals. There was Stars. There was a career high five-point night from Sebastian Aho. And of course there was a Storm Surge. A good time was had by all who attended except maybe fans of the visiting Minnesota Wild.
Though it may have been brief, the game had an inauspicious start. The compete level was there, but the Canes were sloppy and seemed incapable of moving the puck from stick to stick. And sure enough Minnesota scored first when the fourth line got caught behind the play and a 2-on-2 turned into a goal off the rush. The play was a series of small mistakes. Brett Pesce was a bit slow to step forward on what could have been an offensive zone face-off win. The entirety of the fourth line that was on the ice reacted as if Pesce would get the puck. Pesce recovered to make it a 2-on-2 but none of the forwards made it back, so it became a 3-on-2. Then Mrazek was unable to kick the rebound out, and it ended up behind him. But the Canes seemed to burn off their early sloppiness as the game wore on. The Canes tied the game just before the midway point of the first period when Ryan Dzingel made another pretty pass feeding Lucas Wallmark who finished from point blank range. The Hurricanes would climb to a 2-1 lead later in the first period when Teuvo Teravainen found Andrei Svechnikov for an easy deflection goal at the side of the net on the power play. The period would finish with that 2-1 score.
Early in the second period, Teravainen’s day of phenomenal playmaking would continue when he fed Sebastian Aho for a shot into a nice chunk of open net. Mats Zuccarello would pull the Wild within a goal at 3-2, but the Teravainen to Aho combination would strike again on the power play late in the second period to make it 4-2. This time Teravainen made a heady pass to Aho streaking across the top of the crease. The eventful second period saw both team get chances and the Hurricanes out-shoot the Wild by a 15 to 10 margin.
Playing with a 4-2 lead, the third period was an impressive one for the Hurricanes. The majority of the period featured the Hurricanes making simple plays advancing the puck and not giving the Wild any free passes in terms of scoring chances. But at the same time the Hurricanes were opportunistic offensively. Aho’s line had a few more near misses and despite playing a sound game managing the puck the Hurricanes had intermittent chances. At the 12:24 mark of the third period, Joel Edmundson scored through a screen generated by Tervainen. And to put an exclamation point on a fun night, Aho scored a shorthanded empty net goal to cap the night with a hat trick. Despite the fact that the Wild was the team desperately in need of scoring chances in the third period, the Hurricanes out-shot the Wild 13 to 7 for the period.
Player and other notes
1) Teuvo Teravainen
In a way that only the 2019-20 Teuvo Teravainen can manage, I actually think Teravainen was the Hurricanes best player on the night despite being somewhat legitimately outdone by Aho’s hat trick and five point night. Svechnikov’s goal and Aho’s second goal were both power play passing wizardry by Teravainen such that scoring just required angling the stick correctly. Aho’s first goal also featured a heady cross ice pass by Teravainen. And Edmundson’s goal featured a Teravainen screen. Though he was ultimately bested by Aho’s point total, my view had Teravainen as the offensive catalyst that made the engine go on Saturday night.
2) Sebastian Aho
Though I ironically had him as the second star on a five-point night, Aho had a game too obviously. He was buzzing all night, and finishing counts for a bunch too obviously.
3) Special teams
Special teams, led by Teravainen, were the difference on the night. In only three tries, the Canes power play capitalized on a 5-on-3 to earn the team’s first lead, and then when the Wild pulled to within 3-2, the power play again extended that lead. Two out of three for the power play combined with a perfect four out of four for the penalty kill is a two-goal advantage.
4) Jordan Staal’s line
After leading the way on Thursday with a productive night for Foegele and Svechnikov, Staal’s line was second fiddle to Aho’s on Saturday. But worth noting is that Staal’s line was good again. Svechnikov had a really good chance just glance off his stick on a centering pass from Foegele. And in general, the line was competitive at both ends of the rink again.
Next up is the beginning of a five-game road trip that starts on Tuesday in Edmonton against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.