RALEIGH — Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he didn’t know what to expect ahead of Tuesday’s game between Carolina and Vancouver, but agreed that the game would probably be chaotic.
For about 30 minutes, it was.
The teams combining for seven goals in what looked like would be a repeat of the 13-goal affair Sunday against the Rangers.
Instead, the game tightened up, both goalies settled in, and Carolina added an insurance goal from Warren Foegele with just over 6 minutes left for a 5-3 win to in front of 11,942 at PNC Arena.
“It may have been more than half that was chaotic,” Brind’Amour said. “It wasn’t what we wanted, obviously, at the start. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, which is good. But we’re finding ways to win, which is even better. I thought, actually, our third period was the best when we were up a goal. So that’s a positive sign.”
The best indication that things are going well is Carolina’s 3-0-1 record, giving the team the type of start — rebirth, if you will, given the change in ownership, leadership and talent — that will be essential in trying to end the team’s nine-season playoff drought.
“We’re all having fun and we all believe in each other,” said Foegele, who scored his third goal of the season and fifth in six career NHL games. “And I think those are two key things. … So you’ve just got to keep working hard, believing in each other and don’t quit.”
Like their previous game, an 8-5 win over the Rangers, the scoring started in the first minute. Unlike Sunday, this time the Hurricanes got on the board first.
At the end of the game’s first shift, Jordan Staal got in on the forecheck and retrieved the puck, shook off two Canucks defenders and floated a shot toward the net. Jordan Martinook, just off the bench, charged toward the crease and Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (28 saves) lost track of the shot for a 1-0 Hurricanes lead.
From there, the floodgates opened.
Canucks winger Sven Baertschi scored on a breakaway — created by a beautiful stretch pass by Alexander Edler — but Carolina countered with goals from Brett Pesce and Sebastian Aho to head into the middle frame up two goals.
“You don’t want to give up the chances, but you’re also creating a lot of offense because you’re giving up chances, if that makes any sense,” Brind’Amour said. “We’ve just got to shore up those things that are costing us that we’re not getting any offense out of anyway. Like giving up stretch passes and things like that. Special teams — that’s an area where we’ve got to shore up.”
Carolina hadn’t given up a power play goal to its first three opponents, but the Canucks scored twice with the man advantage in the middle frame on Curtis McElhinney (22 saves), one by Bo Horvat and the second by Baertschi, sandwiching Carolina rookie Andrei Svechnikov’s second career goal to make it 4-3 in the Hurricanes’ favor just over three minutes into the second.
The teams traded chances and mistakes until about the midway point, when Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin — one of the holdovers who has been in Raleigh the past three seasons — seemed to put the team on his back and steady it.
“He’s such a good player,” Brind’Amour said of Slavin after the game. “You know, he’s way underrated in the grand scheme of things. His time will come. People are going start taking notice of him because he is an elite player. You’re 100 percent right. He took over the game for me on the back end.”
Then Foegele — one of the newcomers who has injected life into the stagnant franchise — stayed hot, ripping in a one-timer on a pass from Justin Williams that proved to be the nail in the coffin for the visiting Canucks.
“He’s done a great job,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s kind of what we want in a Hurricane; a young kid that does it right every shift. He’s getting rewarded right now for it.”
And so are the Hurricanes.
Notes: The Hurricanes are still looking for their first true power-play goal — Sunday’s by Teuvo Teravainen was into an empty net. … Phil Di Giuseppe, playing on his 25th birthday, was benched following his second penalty late in the second period. … Foegele finished with team highs in shots on goal (7) and shot attempts (11).