After a failure to launch in the first game after the break on Friday and a 4-3 loss largely because of that issue, the Hurricanes fared better in a second attempt on Sunday. The Hurricanes were not tremendous out of the gate, but against a fast team, the pace and compete level was there at least.
Vancouver had the edge early, but the Canes were at least in the game and pushing back. Vancouver scored first when a shot into traffic deflected to a Vancouver stick at the same time that goalie James Reimer was unable to find the puck. The result was a quick shot by young phenom Elias Pettersson into a large opening as Reimer tried to find the puck and recover. The Hurricanes played better as the period wore on but had to survive a couple power play chances against to get out of the first period with only the 1-0 deficit.
The Hurricanes would find a higher gear to start the second period. For the first time in five periods since the break, the Hurricanes had the upper hand for an extended stretch to start the second period. The team was rewarded with two goals. Nino Niederreiter scored when a deflected puck found him, and he whirled and fired for a goal. And Sebastian Aho retrieved a shot that was deflected in front and quickly deposited it into the net. The Canes suddenly had their first lead since the break. But Vancouver struck back when the Canes were a bit disoriented in their own end. That goal tied the game at 2-2 which is how the second period ended.
Andrei Svechnikok opened scoring in the third period with a spectacular power forward move to the net and finish five minutes into the third period. But the hard-fought and back and forth third period later saw Pettersson score his second of the game from a tough angle. A heady play by J.T. Miller forced Reimer to play the opposite side of the net. When Reimer was unable to push quickly off that post to get across on Pettersson, it left just enough room to squeak one in from a seemingly impossible angle. The remainder of regulation saw both teams kill off penalties and emerge from regulation with a 3-3 tie and a point in the standings.
The overtime was actually somewhat tamer than usual, ending with the game still tied 3-3 and setting the stage for Justin Williams to add to his legend. In the shootout, Pettersson scored first to put the Canes in an early hole. But Teuvo Teravainen scored a critical goal going second to tied it for the Canes and Justin Williams scored in the third slot to notch his second shootout winner since his return.
Player and other notes
1) Sebastian Aho
Aho had a strong game offensively on Friday but was also featured regularly in the goals against such that his game was a bit of a mixed bag. On Sunday, he had the extra gear that usually coincides with an offensive surge. Aho had multiple plays where he had that quick acceleration/burst to get to a puck ahead of someone or create a bit of separation space. I am on record as saying a stretch drive surge becomes much easier if Aho can find a stretch where he is strong on an every shift basis.
2) Brett Pesce
The huge downside of the game was Brett Pesce leaving clutching his arm with blood dripping to the ice in the second period. He returned and played his regular shifts in the third period which would seem to suggest that there will be no long-term issue…fingers crossed.
3) Nino Niederreiter
He picked up yet another inopportune penalty in the offensive zone trying to follow his shot to the net and getting his stick up in the process. But after sitting out as a healthy scratch on Friday, he made amends with a whirling goal in front of the net. For as many grade A or at least B opportunities as he has had without being able to finish much, the odd play that saw him have to retrieve and shoot at the same time was a blessing that was rewarded with a goal.
4) Andrei Svechnikov
His third period tally was a great demonstration of the skill set that made him the second player drafted overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. He looked like a speedy power forward carrying wide to make space. Then he cut back at a sharp angle to the net showing incredible agility and skating ability. Then instead of just chucking the puck at the net, he was able to handle the puck to create a shooting angle and finish into an area where the goalie had virtually no chance.
5) Dialing it up
After a disappointing effort on Friday, Sunday’s game was the opposite. Against a good hockey team in a game when I thought both teams played well, the Hurricanes matched the Canucks and prevailed. The game was not perfect but it was well-played and minus the volumes of break downs that have plagued the team in some recent games. Here is hoping that the Hurricanes can find this level of effort and also a somewhat cleaner game regularly down the stretch.
Next up is a four-game road trip that starts in St. Louis on Tuesday night.