The Hurricanes seized control with three goals in just over two minutes in the middle of the first period en route to a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday at PNC Arena.
Morgan Geekie had two power play goals, and Brock McGinn, Dougie Hamilton and Martin Necas also scored for Carolina. James Reimer made 32 saves in the Hurricanes’ seventh consecutive win.
1. The Hurricanes have now won seven straight and moved ahead of the Lightning in points (39 to 38) atop the Central Division (Tampa Bay still holds a slight edge in points percentage, .760 to .750). Only the Maple Leafs have more points (40) but are behind four teams in point percentage.
“Even when it’s not perfect and it’s not the way we want to play, we’re finding ways to win,” said defenseman Jake Bean, who assisted on both of Geekie’s goals. “So that’s always a good thing, and if we can kind of put it all together as much as we can, we always have a chance to win every night.”
2. It was another big game for Carolina’s special teams. The Hurricanes scored on all three of their power play opportunities and now have an NHL-best 32.2% success rate. The penalty kill was also a perfect 1 for 1.
Carolina has 28 power play goals in 26 games, and 11 different players have scored for the Hurricanes. Last season, 13 Carolina players scored power play goals in the 68-game season.
3. Hamilton has quietly put together another big statistical season with 20 points in 26 games. What’s been missing is goals — but Hamilton finally got his second of the year in Carolina’s first-period offensive explosion.
Hamilton charged in from the point and one-timed a pass from Andrei Svechnikov between the hash marks that gave Carolina three goals in just over two minutes. Hamilton also had an assist to push his point streak to seven games — all Hurricanes wins.
Number To Know
2:21 — The amount of time it took Carolina to score three goals in the middle of the first period, turning a 0-0 game into a 3-0 lead and seemingly crushing the will of the Predators. Nashville tried to get back into it at first — the Predators had seven shots on net the last eight-plus minutes of the period — but didn’t register a shot in the second period until there was only 7:43 remaining. By then, the score was 4-0 and the Hurricanes were well on their way to a two-game sweep of the Predators.
They Said It
“It would be a pretty good day when we could pack it in here again.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on his team’s success (10-1-1 this season) at PNC Arena and what it would mean to have a building full of fans.
Morgan Geekie, Hurricanes center — Geekie played his first game with the Hurricanes since Feb. 11, having gone nine games in January and February without a point. A two-game stint with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves saw Geekie score four goals and add an assist, and his scoring touch was back with Carolina on Thursday with two goals.
Geekie’s first goal came on the power play with game at 0-0. He deflected a Jake Bean shot and bounced it past Pekka Rinne (18 saves until he was pulled late in the second period) to give Carolina a lead. Then in the second period, he scored again with the man advantage when his shot from the right wing hit Rinne, went off a Nashville defender and into the net. He also won 12 of 15 faceoffs.
“You hope it shows that we’ve got a lot of good players and some depth,” Brind’Amour said of Geekie stepping into the lineup and having success, “and we obviously we need it right now with all the guys we have out.”
Geekie memorably had three goals and assist in his first two NHL games last March — right before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He then played eight games with Carolina in the return to play/playoffs last August, registering one assist. So in three games played in the month of March, Geekie has five goals, an assist and perhaps a new nickname — Mr. March.
“My dad’s birthday is in March, so you could attribute it to that I guess,” Geekie said.
Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes center — There isn’t much to criticize in a mostly dominant win, but Aho didn’t click with new linemates Necas and Nino Niederreiter on Thursday. He was held off the score sheet and finished with just two shot attempts (both on goal).