The Carolina Hurricanes shook off a sleepy first two periods before overwhelming the Detroit Red Wings, winning 5-2 Thursday in the team’s first game of the season with fans in attendance at PNC Arena.
Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, Jordan Staal, Jesper Fast and Nino Niederreiter scored for Carolina, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 33 saves to earn his fourth win of the season.
1. Third periods have been a nightmare of late for the Hurricanes.
After two lackluster periods, the Hurricanes were fortunate to be tied at 2. In the third, Carolina took over. Staal got the go-ahead goal just 45 seconds into the final frame, and just over two minutes later his line struck again. Staal and Svechnikov’s forecheck forced a turnover, and Svechnikov’s last-second pass slid across to Fast for his third goal of the season.
Staal finished with three points, having also assisted on Svechnikov’s power play goal in the first period, to snap out of his mini-scoring slump. It coincided with having Svechnikov back on his wing.
“He can make anyone a lucky charm,” Staal said of Svechnikov. “He’s a player that creates a lot of energy and creates a lot of offense. When he’s going like that, he’s hard to stop. He’s one of our workhorses, and tonight was no different.”
2. Raleigh served as a one-day City of Brotherly Love on Thursday. Not only did two of the Staal brothers, Carolina’s Jordan and Detroit’s Marc, play against each other again, but Andrei and Evgeny Svechnikov also played each other for the first time in the NHL.
Both Hurricanes scored and Carolina got the win, making it a lopsided affair as far as bragging rights go. Evgeny Svechnikov did finish with an assist, his fourth point in as many games this season.
3. Svechnikov’s 14 games without a goal against a goalie. Gone. Staal’s eight-game drought? Poof. Niederreiter’s seven-game swoon? Over courtesy an empty-netter.
Carolina spent the night getting players out of their scoring funks, and they also got Teuvo Teravainen back in the lineup.
The Hurricanes have now strung together four straight wins despite not putting a full 60-minute effort together in the past week. They hung around against an overmatched Red Wings roster, then flipped the switch in the third to pull away.
Carolina is surely looking to piece together a full game, and getting the droughts out of players’ heads should help.
“It was a little bit frustrating, but I try (not to) think about that and just try to put some pucks on the net and maybe something’s gonna go in,” Svechnikov said of previous his scoring struggles.
Number To Know
2,924 — The attendance at PNC Arena on Thursday, a sellout (given Gov. Roy Cooper’s 15% capacity mandate) in Carolina’s first game welcoming fans back to the stands. With the win, the team also treated the spectators to the first Storm Surge since Feb. 28, 2020, a 3-2 win over Colorado. It was a simple stick salute at center ice in honor of frontline workers during the pandemic and a subtle reminder of the connection the team and its fans shared over the previous two seasons.
“The game felt like almost like a playoff game compared to what we were playing with before, so it was great,” Staal said of the fans. “They were loud and it definitely had some new life in the building that the boys were really excited about. Happy to see some fans and happy to get back to a little bit of normalcy and, hopefully, the numbers keep going and everyone stays safe.”
They Said It
“The guys gave me the puck after and I was like, ‘What for?’, and then kind of told me. So I had no idea, but that was nice of them.”
— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on being given the game puck after his 100th career win, of which he seemed unaware. He is 100-60-13 in two-plus seasons behind the Carolina bench.
Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes forward — While Staal finished with three points, the Hurricanes’ Svechnikov was the best player on the ice. He broke through with his first non-empty-net goal in 14 games, scoring on the power play in the first period, and then set up Fast for his goal with a beautiful pass that felt like the death blow.
And he did while out-dueling his big brother.
Svechnikov said he “was a little nervous my first couple of shifts,” but he quickly took over the game. Not only did he snap his goal streak, but he also had several other chances, set up Fast’s goal, and set up the sequence that led to Staal’s goal.
The combination of Staal and Svechnikov has been particularly fruitful this season.
“I think about it from the other perspective if I had to coach against that, that would be tough,” Brind’Amour said of the pairing. “Or play against that? That’d be just tough. … There’s no real good matchup for any team when you have those two guys going.”
Brett Pesce, Hurricanes defenseman — Pesce was guilty of a deliberate slew foot on Detroit’s Robby Fabbri that even had his father, Brian, tweeting (and later deleting) that the play was dirty. Fabbri bumped Pesce in the neutral zone then the Hurricanes’ defenseman, trailing the Detroit forward, grabbed his shoulder and swept out his left leg. Pesce was penalized for tripping and the Red Wings scored their second goal on the ensuing power play.
NHL Player Safety also responded less than an hour after the game ended, fining Pesce the maximum $5,000 rather than suspending him. Slew-footing is one of hockey’s dirtier plays and can lead to injury since it throws the victimized player backward with the risk of hitting their head on the ice. Fabbri was fortunate to have landed without injury, and Pesce — never disciplined previously by the league and not known as a dirty player — will probably gain a bit of a reputation because of the blatant nature of the play.