After consecutive games that were played more tightly against top-tier competition, the hockey gods gifted the Hurricanes a game that featured loose defensive play, ‘iffy’ goaltending and a perfect recipe for a 5-4 game that has treated the Canes well in 2019-20. And sure enough the Canes were on the positive side of the 5-4 score.
Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 over the Philadelphia Flyers
Game 5 of the Canes seven-game road trip started inauspiciously with the Flyers scoring on their first shot of the game. Travis Konecny just flung the puck at the net from an impossible angle and found a whole through James Reimer. From there, it quickly became apparent that goalie James Reimer was having trouble seeing the puck out of gate. On the next Flyers’ shot, he flung his glove out almost like a blocker just getting a piece of a short side shot that still almost went in. The Flyers third shot went right through Reimer but somehow skittered inches wide of the net. The fourth shot saw Reimer beaten 1-on-1 on a short breakaway after a turnover. Haydn Fleury coughed the puck up against the forecheck and then was a slow trying to recover. Michael Raffl who deflected Fleury’s pass beat Fleury off the wall, walked in and worked over Reimer who committed early and then saw Raffl walk across the top of the crease to score on the other side. The Hurricanes stabilized things but not allowing the Flyers to shoot for some time after that while Reimer and the team tried to play their way into the game. The Hurricanes would score next to get within 2-1 when Brock McGinn got the puck to the front of the net off the rush and generated a rebound that Lucas Wallmark finished. The Hurricanes would tie the game on a pretty play that saw Jordan Staal thread the needle with a pass through traffic that found Warren Foegele breaking to the back door for a pretty finish. The first period would conclude with that 2-2 score. The period was a weird one in that the Canes mounted a sizable shot advantage as the period wore on, but I think it was misleading. The Hurricanes were an intermittent train wreck trying to move the puck from deep in their own end. The result was a number of bad turnovers that led very quickly to grade A chances.
The first period highlighted two recent weaknesses. First, the Canes goaltending has not been great recently. Second, the Canes are struggling mightily against aggressive forechecks right now (more on that below). Fortunately, the same could be said of the Flyers netminding and general level of play.
The Hurricanes started the second period by successfully defending a carry over penalty, and then got back to work. The Hurricanes would climb to a 3-2 lead on a goal by Jake Gardiner on a pretty pass from Sebastian Aho just less than five minutes into the period. Next, Joel Edmundson would tally on a shot that beat Elliott from well out. But just when the Hurricanes seemed to be off and running, another leaky goal found its way behind Reimer when another shot from an odd angle seemed to find a hole right through him. With every shot an adventure, the rest of the period was exciting with both teams tallying chances, but the Hurricanes emerging with a 4-3 lead.
To no one’s surprise who had seen the trajectory of the first two periods, a couple of the Canes demons appeared again early in the third period. First, Andrei Svechnikov took an unnecessary and undisciplined slashing penalty early in the period. Then for the second time in the game, Reimer had a shot go right through him but somehow not end up in the net. This time, the puck stopped on the goal line, and the official whistled the play dead just before the Flyers whacked it into the net. But from that point forward, the Canes did a somewhat better job managing the puck and pushed all the way to the four minute mark before surrendering a game-tying goal. Foegele and McGinn who slotted into Svechnikov’s slot after the penalty got tangled up behind the net and Travis Sanheim walked right around the net and shot through Reimer to tie the game. Regulation would finish with each team claiming a point with a 4-4 score.
Regular hero and 2020 NHL All-Star Dougie Hamilton converted yet another overtime to a second point on a phenomenal shift. First, he dipsy-doodled through multiple Flyers carrying the puck up the ice while the Canes changed players. Then he smartly finished by shooting right through a Flyer’s legs for a screen to win the game. If you get a chance rewatch the entire shift. The finish will make the highlight reels, but his maneuvering with the puck to gain the offensive zone by himself was equally impressive.
Player and other notes
1) Struggles against aggressive forechecks
The story of the Canes 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday was Tampa Bay’s ability to get pucks to the back wall and pressure the Hurricanes there to the tune of turnovers and scoring chances. No doubt the Flyers watched the tape and did similar. The Hurricanes defensemen in general are actually pretty good at advancing the puck from their own end on their own, but I think the issue right now is that the forwards are too much trusting the defensemen to do it on their own and are not correctly reading when the defensemen are pressured/outnumbered and need an outlet option or two that is a short/safe pass.
2) Warren Foegele
He continues to be one of the team’s most consistent players right now. After a slow start to the 2019-20 season, he is increasingly excelling in his puck-hounding role that turns over pucks and just generally makes it difficult for the opposing team to keep/advance the puck. Throw in his pretty finish and two great passes to spring Andrei Svechnikov for grade A chances in alone, and he was the best Canes player in the game.
3) Jake Gardiner
He did have a bad turnover in his own end that led to an immediate scoring chance against, but otherwise he had a better game playing up in the #4 slot next to Brett Pesce. His goal was a laser and his simple but smart play to play the puck to where Jordan Staal could retrieve it yielded a secondary assist on Foegele’s goal. All in all, the game was a positive for Gardiner, as he tries to play his way up into the top 4 on the blue line.
4) Brind’Amour puts a foot down
After taking the third period slashing penalty, Brind’Amour benched Svechnikov in favor of double-shifting Brock McGinn on Staal’s line. Svechnikov did return in overtime (someone correct me if they saw him for more than a single shift before that.
5) James Reimer
Reimer somehow survived a MIGHTY struggle in net. Three of the four goals allowed went through him. In addition, he had two other shots go through him five hole and somehow not end up in the net behind him (one went just wide and the other the ref saved him). Throw in two posts, and despite facing only 21 shots, the night was a difficult adventure for Reimer.
6) Results matter
Especially after posting an 0-6-1 record against lower Metropolitan Division teams, any kind of win against the Flyers was going to be a good one. So despite the struggles in this game and again maybe relying a bit too much on being able to out-run and out-gun any number of mistakes, you take the two points to the bank, be happy with it and continue trying to improve.
7) And Justin Williams watches
Justin Williams spent the game chatting with Tom Dundon in his box which theoretically could just be old friends just catching up, but obviously another shoe was about to drop. And shortly after the game, it was announced that Justin Williams would be returning.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a home back-to-back on Friday and Saturday to close out the home stand against Arizona on Friday and the annual Whalers game against Los Angeles on Saturday.