Tuesday’s pre-break finale was a microcosm of the team’s 2019-20 season thus far. The first period featured the Canes playing decent but not necessarily spectacular hockey but scoring in bunches just like in many wins in the front part of the season. The second period saw the Canes snowed under a bit and struggling to find a higher gear as has been the case in quite a few games recently. And then the last period showed what the team is capable of when they put it all together.
Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets
The Hurricanes had the upper hand early in Tuesday’s contest though there was not much for shots let alone scoring chances early on. But the Canes struck first when Haydn Fleury turned his head up the ice and found Ryan Dzingel who one-touched a pass to put the puck on Martin Necas’ stick with speed crossing the offensive blue line. Necas showed off his skating ability going wide and then breaking back sideways to carry the puck across the top of the crease, deftly outmaneuver two defenders and finish into the far side of the net to put the Canes up 1-0. The just over three minutes later Teuvo Teravained conjured up another of his wizard-like power play passes right off Justin Williams’ stick and into the net. Just over five minutes into the game the Hurricanes were quickly up 2-0. But Winnipeg answered when a quick centering pass from behind the net found Patrik Laine who shot right through Mrazek from between the circles to make it 2-1. The Canes scored again late in the period when a Jets defenseman mishandled an aerial flip to the Jets blue line. Sebastian Aho pounced on the puck, got it to behind the net and then fed Teuvo Teravainen jumping up into a prime scoring area. Teravainen finished to stake the Hurricanes to a 3-1 lead. The period was an odd one in that the volume of really good scoring chances was not particularly high, but the early-season opportunistic scoring version of the Canes returned and capitalized on a couple good chances.
The second period saw Winnipeg take the upper hand. The Hurricanes struggled early and often to match Winnipeg’s pace and intensity. The Hurricanes spent much of the second period hemmed in their own end and under duress. But the defense did a decent job of limiting both quality and quantity of chances, and Petr Mrazek stood tall when needed. Despite being outplayed for much of the period, the Hurricanes yielded only five shots on goal and emerged from the period still with a 3-1 lead.
The third period was the best that the team has played in some time. Seemingly trying to finish the long 50-game run up to the All-Star break with a sprint, the Hurricanes dialed things up. The Hurricanes drew a couple penalties in the front part of the period and piled up shots and possession time. Justin Williams scored his second of the game on a pretty pass from Andrei Svechnikov. The Hurricanes would pour on 16 shots while only giving up three and would frustrate the Jets in the process. The game got a bit testy in the third period with the peak being an exchange that saw Mark Scheifele cross check Brett Pesce, a response from both Petr Mrazek hacking at Scheifele and Pesce also responding and finally a rare fight for Brett Pesce. The game was never really in doubt in the third period with the Hurricanes both possessing a lead and dominating play.
The win pushed the Hurricanes to a solid 7-2-1 in the last 10 home games and sent the players off to their break with a good vibe.
Player and other notes
1) Petr Mrazek
Per my game preview, I expected Brind’Amour to go back to a hot James Reimer. But probably to be sure to keep both goalies engaged, Brind’Amour started Mrazek thereby giving him the chance to also go into the break riding high. Mrazek was good in the second period when the team needed it and earned another win.
2) Teuvo Teravainen
He was the offensive catalyst on the night with the pretty pass for Williams’ power play redirection goal and also another assist and a goal. In 50 games, Teravainen now has 38 assists which puts him up with some elite company tied for eighth in the entire NHL. What’s more, Teravainen’s total is not the result of playing on a scoring line and just collecting a bunch of ‘I touched the puck before we scored’ assists. Rather, he is racking up assists on heady plays where the assist not the finish are the key play.
3) Justin Williams
So much for gradually working his way up to speed. After scoring the shootout game-winner on Sunday, Justin Williams scored twice in Tuesday’s win. His game is simple in a good way. He just competes hard, makes a bunch of small plays when he can and knows how to go where goals happen. Both of his goals on Tuesday were simply going to the front of the net and being able to finish pretty passes. At his age, Williams might not be able to drive play or generate scoring chances on his own, but his smarts fit well as a finisher on a team that has players who can generate scoring chances.
4) Jaccob Slavin
In another strong outing for the defense, Jaccob Slavin led the way with a massive 25:58 of ice time in a regulation game. He showed why he will represent the Canes at the All-Star game this weekend.
5) The standings
The margin is tiny, but the win pushed the Hurricanes back up into the first wild card slot by the slimmest of margins. The Hurricanes will need to earn a playoff spot in the final 32 games but unlike in 2018-19, they will not be starting from a deficit.
Next up is Jaccob Slavin at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game this weekend and then a layoff until the team returns to the ice at PNC Arena on January 31 against the Vegas Golden Knights.