The Carolina Hurricanes improved to 6-1-0 on the season with a 4-3 shootout win in Chicago on Tuesday. Andrei Svechnikov, Warren Foegele and Vincent Trocheck had goals for the Hurricanes, and James Reimer stopped all three Blackhawks in the shootout while Svechnikov added the game-winner as the third Carolina shooter.
1. Svechnikov continues to blossom into one of the league’s elite players. On Wednesday, Svechnikov scored a goal, delivered the hit of the game, dabbled with the idea of trying to score a lacrosse goal in overtime, and scored the shootout winner.
“He’s a special player, we know that,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Svechnikov got the first goal of the game — and his fifth of the season — off a Jordan Staal centering pass, then later responded to a hit on teammate Brett Pesce by flattening Chicago’s Carl Soderberg at the red line.
In overtime, Svechnikov flirted with a game-ending lacrosse goal, but the puck never got up on his blade.
“It was good opportunity and the D wasn’t there and I tried it, but I couldn’t put it on the stick,” he said. “The ice was pretty bad, so maybe next time.”
Finally, he ended in the game in the shootout. With the Blackhawks stopped on all three attempts by Reimer, Svechnikov finally solved Kevin Lankinen (38 saves) for the lone tally in the shootout.
“I tried it in the game a couple of times and I couldn’t score,” Svechnikov said of finally getting one past the Chicago goalie after having a few one-on-one opportunities during the game. “I tried the same move, to be honest, and I couldn’t score. But I decided I should do the same thing because the goalie knew I tried already a couple times. So he knew, like, I’m not probably going to do that (again), and it was a great shot for me.”
2. Back when Staal was traded from Pittsburgh to Carolina, the prevailing opinion was he was looking to get out from behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and be more than a third line center. Maybe he was supposed to be a 3C all along.
With the addition of Trocheck, Staal is back in the role for which he’s perhaps best suited. Staal will always be a defensive force, but since he’s returned to the lineup, he has points in all four games he’s played.
On Tuesday, he set up both of Carolina’s first period goals, showing off his offensive acumen. But that’s all gravy to Brind’Amour.
“I think everybody gets kind of caught up in points to have to play well, and that’s not really how I judge it,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s always playing as well. … It’s just the last little while, for whatever reason, that things have been going in here for him, getting points. But, you know, he is very, very valuable to us, no doubt.”
3. “Brind’Amour didn’t look like the winning coach after the game, and he agreed that the performance — despite it being a win — wasn’t up to par.
“Today was not a good game for us. I’ll just leave it at that,” he said. “We’ll take the win, for sure. We won’t remember it in a little while; it’s two points. … Good teams find a way to win, and that’s kind of what happened tonight.”
It’s hard to believe, but Carolina is already an eighth of the way through the season. At 7-1-0, the Hurricanes have the most points in the Central Division and have given themselves a little bit of breathing room despite having gone through a COVID-19 stoppage and losing their No. 1 goalie, Petr Mrazek, to injury.
Reimer (30 saves) remained perfect on the year by moving to 4-0-0, and his three saves in the shootout — specifically the puck-on-a-string effort by Patrick Kane — were enough to secure the second point for Carolina.
“Watching Patrick Kane come down and do that, I was just saying, ‘Well, this could get ugly,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s stick handling and doing all that stuff, and you got to give Reims a lot of credit because he stayed right with him. On all the shootouts and even in the game, he made a lot of big saves for us at the right times. He’s been great, no doubt.”
Number To Know
66.7% — Career shootout goal percentage for Svechnikov, tied for the best among any active NHL player with at least two attempts. Svechnikov has scored on four of his six career attempts, as has Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.
The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin has the most impressive track record of any active player, making 15 of 24 for a 62.5% success rate. Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, who missed his attempt Tuesday, is fourth at 57.1% (4 of 7). Defenseman Petteri Nummelin made 8 of 10 with Minnesota in the mid-2000s, the best mark of anyone with at least three career attempts.
They Said It
“There’s no way he goes 0-for-4 on you. He’s too good.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on why he picked Andrei Svechnikov to shoot third in the shootout after Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen had stopped on three chances during the game.
Vincent Trocheck, Hurricanes center — Trocheck got his fifth goal in seven games this season, banging in a ricocheting puck to give Carolina a third period lead. He and his linemates, Nino Niederreiter and Martin Necas, dominated when on the ice with 25 even-strength shot attempts for to just six allowed — an 80.65% Corsi For percentage.
Trocheck was also a beast in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 20 — including several in the offensive zone that led to scoring chances.
Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes center — Aho was mostly invisible Tuesday. He finished with three shots on goal, but had zero heading into the third period and had only one other shot attempt — which was blocked by former teammate Calvin de Haan eight minutes into the game.
Brind’Amour said his returning players were “sluggish” and that it “bled into our group.” Aho certainly seemed like part of the group who was impacted by it.