Another day. Another home Canes win. And yet another fun storm surge at PNC Arena.
Life is incredibly good as a Carolina Hurricanes hockey fan right now.
After drubbing a downtrodden Los Angeles Kings team at home on Tuesday, the Hurricanes faced a tougher test against a St. Louis Blues team that like the Hurricanes has been playing incredibly well since the beginning of the new year.
The game started with a plodding pace with both teams playing a steady but seemingly conservative style of play. Early on, shot totals piled up slowly and most of the chances were grade B or lower. St. Louis struck first on the scoreboard on sort of an odd transition point. Brock McGinn challenged and nearly won the puck at the defensive blue line. But when he failed to get the puck and fell down in the process, the Blues defenseman had a gap to step into with the puck while the Hurricanes tried to re-sort things out defensively. The result was a shot from the top of the face-off circle and a tip in front for a St. Louis goal. But the Hurricanes struck back quickly when Brett Pesce and Justin Williams played catch at the top of the face-off circle before Williams fired a laser into the far side top corner to tie the game at 1-1. The Hurricanes would score again when Faulk followed Williams’ lead and fired glove high on goalie Jake Allen as he dropped a bit early. The result was another goal and a 2-1 lead for the Hurricanes which is how the first period would end.
Second period scoring would feature another point shot through traffic after a failed Canes clearing attempt. The shot through traffic would pull the Blues even at 2-2. But then the hockey gods showed the Hurricanes that they continue to have the team’s back. A harmless dump down the ice while shorthanded took an odd turn of events. First, the puck caromed oddly off the corner board and right past goalie Jake Allen who was trying to play the puck. Then Allen seemed slow trying to recover possibly as if he thought the first player back was a Blues defenseman. Then he fell on the way back to his net which gave Sebastian Aho all kinds of time to score on a wraparound. The rest of the second period featured the teams taking turns controlling play but without a ton of grade A scoring chances. The second period would end with the Hurricanes leading 3-2.
The third period seemed to return to the plodding pace of the first period. Neither team really took control of the play, and the chances were for the most part modest in quality. The Hurricanes would add to the lead when Teuvo Teravainen put a puck in Jordan Staal’s wheel house and went glove high for the team’s third goal in that location from very nearly the same shooting position. Andrei Svechnikov would add any empty-netter to seal the deal.
The Storm Surge which is worth hunting down if you missed it featured Evander Holyfield knocking out Jordan Martinook at center ice.
Player and other notes
1) Sebastian Aho’s line
Whereas the Staal line with with Teravainen and Ferlnad did the heavy lifting on Tuesday, Friday’s win saw Aho’s line take top billing. Williams featured prominently in the first two goals scoring the first one and being the net front presence on the second goal. Aho also had a strong game with a shorthanded goal and an assist. And Nino Niederreiter was hard on the puck all game and netted two assists. One thing that stands out to me about Aho right now is how strong his skating stride is to accelerate quickly in the neutral zone. On plays where he would have pulled up at the offensive blue line to look for a pass a couple years ago, he is quite often blowing by the defender on his path to the net.
2) Andrei Svechnikov
In total, his play right now is choppy, but on encouraging sign is his propensity to try to beat defensemen at the defensive blue line ans have good success doing so.
3) More scoring from the blue line
The blue line continued to generate offense. On Friday, it was Faulk’s turn to score. Brett Pesce’s simple but pretty passing lane with Williams also contributed on the score sheet.
This trio struggled a bit on Friday night. A couple decent failed chances to clear the puck saw the Blues quickly capitalize twice with goals. The line has been fine in recent games, so I would chalk this up a one-time thing.
5) Teuvo Teravainen
The single biggest development that I have been tracking is the the Ferland/Staal/Teravainen line. The trio continues to generate scoring chances with Teravainen providing playmaking from the wing. If that line can continue on its current trajectory, the Hurricanes could have two good scoring lines for the first time in awhile.
Next up is a quick turnaround with the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday night against Florida.