Coming off a generally lackluster effort and the team’s first loss on Saturday night, the Hurricanes looked to rebound on its first real road trip of the season.
The rebound did not happen in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings. The period encompassed most of what has at times ailed the team during the 2019-20 season. The sluggish pace from the loss to Columbus carried over. The team took a couple penalties and failed to take away much on the power play. The result was a first period with a heavy advantage to the Kings. Some combination of Petr Mrazek being on his game and a few near misses helped the Hurricanes emerge from a rough start with a 0-0 tie late into the first period when they seemed to gain their footing. The period would end with a modest uptick in level of play from the Hurricanes and a 0-0 score.
The second period saw the rest of the team arrive. The Hurricanes were not necessarily dominant, but they were competitive unlike the first period. The Hurricanes would score 4:16 into the second period when Ryan Dzingel made a heady play to quickly open and exploit a passing lane finding Martin Necas stepping up between the face-off circles for a quick hitter for a goal. The Hurricanes would finish the period with a 9-3 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead.
Down a goal, the Kings pushed in the third period. But again the Hurricanes minimized chances and finished the game with two better penalty kills. Sebastian Aho would be rewarded with another empty-net goal with seven seconds remaining when Teuvo Teravainen seemed to shoot through him and into the empty net. The goal was credited to Aho who much have gotten a piece of it on the way through.
Player and other notes
1) Petr Mrazek
He was the story of the first period when the Hurricanes were struggling to play their way into the game and struggling to do so. Had Mrazek not had a strong first period, the game could have been on its way to over early at 2-0 or 3-0 for the Kings. Mrazek was 3-0 coming into the game, so it is not as if he has been bad, but I think this was the first game where he was a real difference-maker in the decision.
Martin Necas scored the lone goal (not counting the empty-netter) on a pretty pass from Ryan Dzingel, and the trio was probably the team’s best at even strength on the night. They drew a penalty in the first period and mustered a decent number of scoring chances throughout the game.
3) Penalty kill
The penalty kill was perfect obviously but I still think a cause for concern. In the first period, the penalty kill offered minimal resistance on the first period penalty kills that mostly required Mrazek to stand on his head. But on a more positive note, the penalty kill in the third period was better at making the Kings earn possession and scoring chances.
4) Sebastian Aho
The scoring watch will continue to the next game with Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter, but I thought both took a step up in terms of making plays on the puck defensively. Aho was on the ice from the ending penalty kill and the empty-net goal with Staal in the penalty box, and in general, he just had a cleaner game.
5) The defense
After a tough first period across the board, the Hurricanes defense was generally sound in the second and third periods. Even when pressured, the defense minimized the quality of chances and gave Mrazek a chance.
6) A fast rebound
One of the key tenets of the Hurricanes rise up the standings and into the playoffs in the second half of the 2018-19 season was the team’s ability to bounce back quickly and avoid losing streaks. Tuesday represents the first time in the 2019-20 season when the Hurricanes had to rebound from a loss. In winning on Tuesday, the Hurricanes quickly offset their first loss and pushed back to six games above .500.
Next up is a quick turnaround and another late night for loyal Caniacs with another late start in San Jose on Wednesday night.