As I said half in shock after the game ended:
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) December 20, 2019
Anyone who gave up just a tiny bit early and went to bed missed it. When the Avs scored late with Philip Grubauer stopping everything he saw, the Canes seemed destined for a still very solid 3-1-1 road trip. But then bang-bang-bang, the game was suddenly a 3-1 win that had those still awake wondering if they had dozed off and dreamed it. After maybe not doing enough throughout the game to create chaos in front of Grubauer, consecutive shifts by Foegele/Staal/Svechnikov netted a couple point blank chances amidst a mess on the first shift and then finally a goal on the next shift by Andrei Svechnikov with Foegele’s help creating a mess in front. Then before the Avs could even reset, hometown kid Jaccob Slavin scored off the rush. Sebastian Aho added yet another empty-netter to seal the deal. In the span of three minutes, the game went from seemingly being another shutout to a wild late win.
The Hurricanes started strong and had the upper hand physically maybe courtesy of playing an Avalanche team that played and traveled the night before. But a regular Achilles’ heel on the trip taking three first period penalties helped Colorado slow momentum and kept the Hurricanes from mounting much of a sustained attack. The Canes pumped 16 shots at the net which was not enough to score, only enough to make it clear that Grubauer was in the zone. And true to form, the Canes penalty killed off all three penalties to get the first intermission at 0-0.
The second period was more even. The Hurricanes took two more penalties. And the goalies continued to stand out. Joining Grubauer who was maybe more tested in the first period, James Reimer was a standout in the second period. Despite an entertaining period with a good number of chances both ways, the teams headed to the third period tied at 0-0.
And that set the stage for the late-game heroics detailed at the outset.
The long haul and the ups and downs of the long NHL season seem to inevitably sap even the greatest of vibes which makes it even more important for Caniacs to revel in what is an incredibly incredible run of Canes hockey right now.
Player and other notes
1) James Reimer
He was the story of the game yet again for the Hurricanes. Had either goalie had a ‘meh’ night, the other team would have stormed to a win. Instead, Reimer matched Grubauer save for save to give his team a chance to steal a win late. And they did.
2) Jordan Staal’s line
My game preview noted the strong play of Staal’s line of late and my intrigue with the potential for it to also be a scoring line. When the Hurricanes desperately needed to score a work boots and lunch pail goal in the trenches at the top of the crease, this trio stepped up. As noted above, they came really close twice on the shift before finally breaking through.
3) Hometown hero
How cool was it that Jaccob Slavin netted the game-winner at home in front of his parents and other family and friends?
4) Building a gap
Right now the Hurricanes are rising such that there is good reason to look up not down in the standings. But at the same time, building a cushion above the playoff cut line is powerful. It decreases adversity if/when the team hits a small skid, and it enables the team to go easier on players especially if injured in the second half of the season. Adjusted for games played, the Canes have now built a sizable six-point gap above ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
Next up is a triumphant return home for a Saturday match up against the Florida Panthers at PNC Arena.