After mostly sleeping through consecutive games earlier in the week, the Hurricanes awoke in a big way on Sunday night in Edmonton.
The Canes scored first when Nino Niederreiter scored his first as a Hurricane on a Sebastian Aho pass off the rush on the first shift of the game.
The Hurricanes are a completely different team when it scores first, so sure enough the early goal was the start of more good things to come. Next Andrei Svechnikov who had been mostly invisible in January scored on a tip of a Jaccob Slavin point shot. That also seemed to get him going. Then a strong first period saw Niederreiter score again on a power forward’s delight. He was second to a dump in behind Adam Larsson, but he rode Larsson into the boards separating him from the puck and then deftly wheeled off the boards and out to the front of the net where he made no mistake finishing. The goal was equal parts physical play, nice footwork and finishing. Meanwhile, the Oilers elicited Bronx cheers when they mustered their first shot on net midway through the first period. The Oilers did score late in the first period to make it 3-1.When the dust settled on the first period, the Hurricanes led 3-1 on the scoreboard and had fired 19 shots on net to Edmonton’s 10 mostly late in the period.
The Hurricanes pounced again in the second period when Brock McGinn finished on a heady Svechnikov odd angle shot aimed at generating a rebound which it did. Lucas Wallmark scored on the power play, and then Jordan Martinook finished a pretty three-way passing play with Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele to get the Hurricanes to six goals. The Oilers would again score late to get within 6-2 at the end of the second period.
The Oilers finally pushed when they scored early in the third period, gained momentum from the goal and continued to mount an attack. The Hurricanes slowed the Oilers down a bit when they killed off a penalty early in the third period. But tempting fate one too many times, Niederreiter took his second penalty early in the third period and the Oilers scored on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play to pull the Oilers within two goals at 6-4. The Hurricanes would survive a few decent chances against and hold the fort on the way to a 7-4 win after an empty-netter was added.
Player and other notes
1) Nino Niederreiter
In a single game, he both showcased his upside and also the looseness that has plagued his game at times. The second goal he scored in the first period was a thing of beauty with the physical play and then the finish. But then after a two-goal first period, he followed it up with two penalties in the third period that fed Edmonton’s rally. All in all, I will count it as a net positive with the goal scoring from the wing that the Hurricanes need.
2) Andrei Svechnikov
He has had a tough January mostly going quiet offensively while mostly getting noticed for his issues with stick infractions. But a slight tip of the Slavin shot that netted him a goal seemed to shock him back to life. His assist on McGinn’s goal was a heady offensive play, and he added another assist later to collect his first three points in January. He came close to a four-point night when he shot off the outside of the goal post off the rush in the third period. Here is hoping that this jump starts him into a second wind.
3) Petr Mrazek
His trajectory is worth watching. By no means was he the problem earlier this week when the team in front of him was outplayed. But at the same time, he has not been as sharp for multiple games now. When Mrazek is playing well, his anticipation is as good as any goalie the Canes have had. He reads plays well and seems to always be a half step ahead of the play such that he is waiting and/or moving into shots. In recent games, his game has been much more reactionary trying to make saves instead of just being in position for them.
4) Points aplenty
Almost under the radar on a six-goal night, Jaccob Slavin picked up three assists and Lucas Wallmark had a power play goal, an assist and an empty-netter. Sebastian Aho had three points on what was actually a fairly quiet night for him. And of the Canes forwards, only Justin Williams, Greg McKegg and Saku Maenalanen failed to get on the score sheet.
5) Need to finish strong
With a 1-2 week this week and a six-point deficit (adjusted for games played) below the last playoff spot, the Hurricanes really need to pull a big upset against the familiar faces on the Western Conference-leading Flames and also get two points against the Canucks heading into the All-Star break.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a Tuesday match up against Bill Peters, Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames.