RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes hoped the 2018-19 season would be the beginning of a new era for the team.
It has thus far not been that. But on the final night of the calendar year, the Hurricanes at least seemed poised to start 2019 on the right foot.
The Hurricanes scored three times in the first 23 minutes, chasing Flyers rookie goalie Carter Hart in his fifth NHL start, and Curtis McElhinney made 22 saves en route to a 3-1 win in front of 16,644 on New Year’s Eve at PNC Arena.
“The game didn’t feel much different than any of the games we’ve played all year,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We got, like you said, a couple went in. And then we’re ahead, it’s just a little different game. We’ve had good goaltending all year, and that was the same tonight. We just got a couple goals.”
The Hurricanes got the early lead with the type of sharpshooting Brind’Amour has been begging for.
Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce made a nice pass in the neutral zone to a streaking Lucas Wallmark, who fired a quick shot bar down on Hart to make it 1-0 at 10:47 of the first.
“I got a really good pass from Pesce there,” Wallmark said. “I had some speed and tried to use the D as a little bit of a screen. Like I said, it was nice to see the puck went in.”
Then after the opening faceoff of the second period, Jordan Martinook scored what Brind’Amour called “the goal of the game.”
Martinook took the Wallmark faceoff win, weaved between to Flyers defenders and fired a shot off Hart’s glove and in for a 2-0 lead just six seconds into the middle frame.
While it was Hart’s first game against the Hurricanes, it wasn’t his first time facing Martinook.
“I skate with that guy in the summer, so I’ve scored on him a few times,” Martinook said. “It was nice to get one in the NHL against him. I know he’s been playing well for them, and for us to go and get three on him and chase him, that’s big.”
Carolina got that third goal just over two minutes later with another key neutral zone play.
Clark Bishop knocked the puck out of midair to create a 3-on-2 rush, and he fed it to fellow rookie Andrei Svechnikov. Svechnikov buried his 11th goal of the year and chased Hart — who was replaced by Michal Neuvirth — after his third goal allowed on 10 shots after just 22 minutes.
At the other end, McElhinney made several key stops — none better than a sliding stop on Scott Laughton on a 2-on-1 — in his 200th NHL game.
“It took me about 12 years to get to 200,” McElhinney joked.
Jakub Voracek scored the lone goal for the Flyers at 2:38 of the third, but Philadelphia couldn’t muster a push to get within a goal.
Notes: The game was Justin Williams’ 1200th in the NHL. He played it against the team that drafted him 28th overall back in 2000. … Svechnikov’s 11 goals put him alone in second in the league among rookies, behind only Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson (19). … Neuvirth stopped all 23 shots he saw in relief of Hart.