Saturday’s effort in Calgary reminded me a bit of the win over Edmonton to start the road trip. In total, the Hurricanes were not great and were especially sloppy to start the first and third periods taking too many penalties. But also like the Edmonton game, the Hurricanes found some timely scoring and road goaltending and special teams to a win.
Other than James Reimer who was solid all night, there really was not much to like about the first period. The Canes were sluggish and sloppy early. Martin Necas registered and early penalty, and unable to move the puck stick to stick, the Canes also iced the puck regularly. Calgary by far had the better of play and scoring chances, but James Reimer was the best player of the period and dragged the Hurricanes into the second period tied at 0-0 despite being out-shot 12 to 4.
The start of the second period was not significantly better. But after a slow start, the Hurricanes did seem to finally play their way into the game shortly into the second period. The Hurricanes finally broke the ice 12:35 into the second period on a pretty play by the fourth line. Julien Gauthier won a puck at the offensive blue line to keep the puck in. He fed Jordan Martinook who then made a nifty pass across to Brock McGinn who finished. Shortly thereafter Dougie Hamilton continued his scoring surge with a power play marker. The Hurricanes rode the momentum from there and continued to have the upper hand with a whopping 18 to 7 shot advantage that erased the first period deficit.
Then the start of the third period felt eerily like the struggles in Edmonton earlier in the week. The Canes were a bit sloppy early in the period and relied on Reimer a bit more to hold the lead. Then in the middle of the period, the Canes took three consecutive penalties gifting the Calgary a chance to climb back into the 2-0 game. But some combination of James Reimer and the penalty kill stood tall to maintain the two-goal lead. Warren Foegele put a nail in the coffin when he retrieved a loose puck in the offensive zone and caught a break on a deflection that found the net for a shorthanded goal. Foegele would add another shorthanded goal into an empty net to close out the 4-0 win.
Player and other notes
1) James Reimer
James Reimer was the story of the game. He was the best player on the ice when the Canes posted a sluggish and sloppy first period effort. He made additional good saves throughout making a ‘meh’ Canes effort look much better than it was. He continues to take many of the tougher starts (Calgary came in with seven straight wins) and produce in a 1B role.
2) Special teams
Behind Reimer was the special teams. The penalty kill again wiped away a few too many penalties, and Hamilton’s power play goal built on the first goal to run the Canes out to a two-goal lead in a game that they were not otherwise winning.
For the second game in a row Edmundson/Pesce was phenomenal. Even when trapped in their own end a bit, they were strong making plays with their sticks and defending the front of the net.
4) Julien Gauthier
He was probably the biggest story of preseason for the Hurricanes. He pushed his way up into the NHL lineup discussion by bringing a strong power forward game with the puck on his stick and dialed up his compete level playing without it. After quiet and not noticeable games at the NHL level so far this season, I think Saturday finally rekindled what he did in preseason. His play without the puck at the offensive blue line directly led to McGinn’s scoring chance and goal. Later in the game he had one of his ‘bull in the China shop’ rushes carrying the puck strong to the net off the rush.
Foegele’s two goals actually came shorthanded and not with his line, but I still thought that Staal’s line was the team’s best on Saturday night.
Next up for the Hurricanes, #CanesAfterDark returns with a game in Winnipeg on Tuesday.