Cary, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes now see themselves in a playoff spot as they play an exciting series of games in 2019. Just this past weekend, the Canes got two big wins, including one against the Edmonton Oilers and one of the best hockey players in the game right now, Connor McDavid.
Canes Beat Oilers, Playoffs In Sight
The Hurricanes beat the Edmonton Oilers and the best player in the world, Connor McDavid, 3-1 in an exciting game that started out looking like it could be a very high scoring game with three goals in less than three minutes but ended up 3-1 in the Canes favor.
No Canes defensemen factored directly on the scoresheet for a goal or assist but all played a fantastic game in front of the games #1 star, goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Niederreiter, Wallmark Score Early
The three healthy extras for Edmonton came up on Press Row with three minutes gone in the first and missed the first three goals. The first started after Sebastian Aho won a face-off deep in the Oilers’ end then taking a shot that went wide, circling around the boards to the right point. Justin Faulk kept the play in th Oilers zone by slapping the puck along the boards. Justin Williams snared the puck making a nifty backhand pass to Seabass on the far side of the goal. Seabass quickly passed to Nino Niederreiter cutting across the slot who buried it with just 37 seconds gone.
The Oilers tied in up 55 seconds later on a two-on-one with Leon Draisaitl knocking in his 34th of the season. The Oilers are a one-line team with Draisaitl and McDavid scoring 50 percent of the Oilers goals. Less than a minute later, Michael Ferland passed over to Teuvo Teravainen in the high slot but rather than shoot into a mass of bodies passed over to Lucas Wallmark on the far right who threaded a shot short side to put the Canes back up by one at the 2:16 mark.
The Canes had a powerplay shortly after that goal but couldn’t capitalize with the man advantage, which could have changed the dynamics of the game. Late in the period, with the Oilers pressing, the Canes got their first penalty. Clearly it was a hook by Seabass but Willie immediately went to the box with the look of innocence when the ref told him he wasn’t the offender.
McElhinney and Defense Shutdown Everything
The second period was very similar to the first, with tight-checking and moves by the coaches to get the right matchups. Rod Brind’Amour made sure Jaccob Slavin was matched against McDavid as often as he could. Slavin is the unsung star of the Canes and had one of his strongest defensive games of the year. Linemate Dougie Hamilton used his mammoth reach to swat pucks off the Oilers sticks all night. No one uses his size better defensively than Faulk as he was very effective along the boards.
Brett Pesce, Calvin deHaan and Trevor van Riemsdyk all had solid games with each having individual moments of excellence that coaches noticed and gave credit as their shifts ended. McDavid is the fastest skater in the league and is amazing to watch as he is strong, constantly moving and can pretty much do what he wants on the ice. Canes defense had a plan on how to play against McDavid who lead all forwards with 25:07 minutes on the ice. Slavin played 25:05, coincidence or good coaching game plan?
Niederreiter Notches Second, Continues Hot Streak
CMac played lights out all game but really rose to the occasion in the third. The Oilers have all the ingredients for a very good team and is a mystery as to why they constantly far short of their potential. Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock, who will certainly be a hall-of-famer when his career ends, blasted the Oilers earlier in the week for a lackluster performance. He pulls no punches and called out every player to just meet their abilities. The Oilers and Canes play similar games as both are fast, tight-checking teams with the Canes having more balanced scoring.
On paper, the Oilers’ forwards should lead the league in scoring as they have half their team as either first or second round draft picks. Besides CMac stopping everything thrown at him, every defenseman had at least one block shot which doesn’t happen every game. Coaches want that but it does take a certain mindset willing to get hit by a puck going 100 mph. Niederreiter closed out the scoring late in the period off a nice pass from Seabass in which the shot first appeared to be blocked but El Nino hacked the puck in to close the scoring. Great win which now has the Canes within one point of the final wild card playoff spot.
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Canes Hit Streak Continues, In Playoff Spot
The Canes have been the hottest team in 2019, so hot they’re hitting on all cylinders and now see themselves in a playoff spot this late in the season for the first time in 10 years. It was probably in the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs a Canes goalie, at that time rookie Cam Ward, was the #1 star in back to back games, but after Curtis McElhinney was the top star Friday night and Petr Mrazek matched that with a solid 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars Saturday night.
Williams, McGinn Start the Scoring
The Stars watched the Canes game Friday as they had the night off having arrived earlier in the day so they were well rested. With the Canes playing the Oilers and chasing Connor McDavid all night, if they came out would have an excuse. Anyone that knows Rod Brind’Amour knows no team of his will: 1) Be totally tired or 2) Use an excuse.
Both teams came out fast with the Stars winning the initial faceoff methodically entering into the Canes zone testing Mrazek with an early, albeit, easy shot. Justin Faulk made a gutsy Hail Mary pass to Lucas Wallmark at the Stars’ blue line. Wallmark went in on former Cane Anton Khudobin alone and decked once too often as his shot went high and wide. On the next shift, Nino Niederreiter had the puck on the far boards making a cross ice pass to Sebastian Aho.
Seabass got control of the puck, then threaded a pass back across the ice to Justin Williams who waited for Dobby to make the first move before knocking in the first goal of the game off the far post. Just over three minutes later, the Canes were again pressing deep in the Stars’ end. Jordan Martinook had a nice feed from Andrei Svechnikov then gave Brock McGinn a gift of a pass but the puck bounced over his stick. Ginner the puck sending it around the boards up to Justin Faulk on the right point. Faulker sent the puck back to Ginner who muscled his way into the slot, sending a backhander in to put the Canes up by two. You have to love the way the game announcer calls his name in at deep raspy tone: Brooook McGinnnnn.
Stars Kick it up a Notch
The second period found the Canes on their heels chasing the puck but being very effective in stuffing any chance for an odd man rush. Mrazek was in a zone all night stopping everything and anything thrown his way using every bit of his equipment including his mask and knob of his stick. Mrazek knew he was having quite a game with that confidence seeping to every teammate.
The Stars outplayed the Canes in the second, with the Canes showing some signs of being tired. The Stars had 11 shots in the period, several were high scoring chances that Mrazek answered each time. The Canes were only able to muster four shots with just one in the last 14 minutes of the period.
Ferland, Mrazek Seal Win
The Canes probably got a little of Brind’Amour Hockey 101 during the intermission as they came out with an extra step in the third. The Stars were still a half a step ahead but the Canes frequently ragged the puck well, many times double-teaming an opponent. They got back to solid forechecking and getting the puck deep to keep play in the Stars’ end. When in the Canes’ end, the defense did a good job of blocking pucks, with Trevor van Riemsdyk making two blocks on one play. He first blocked a shot with his shin pads, then when the puck went back to the shooter for another slap shot, he turned his body blocking the shot with his backside.
After his shift was over, you can see him talking about it on the bench with Calvin deHaan most likely saying he saw the second shot all the way. Late in the period, as the Canes were putting up several shots, El Nino got a violent cross check in the back while in the slot. The ensuing power play had the first unit looking great, passes were crisp, all the skaters had fast movement and constantly had a man above the crease.
After a stoppage in play, the second unit came out. Dougie Hamilton carried the puck along the far boards sending an ill advised but turned out to be a good pass to Lucas Wallmark along the near faceoff circle. The ice was choppy so the puck bounced over Wallmark’s stick but he easily retrieved it passing low to Svech. The rookie Svech, gathered the puck faking to go around the next but made a sweet pass up to Michael Ferland who swatted it in five hole to close out the scoring. Solid teamwork. Great goaltending, strong scoring, solid defense and perfect effort by the special teams.
For an hour, the Canes were in third place in the Metro division but after the Columbus win, dropped to a wild card slot for the playoffs.
Next game is Tuesday, February 19, 2019 against the Rangers. Be There!