RALEIGH — Following his team’s win Thursday, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he hoped his team didn’t “take a breath” with games against three straightness winless opponents coming up, starting with Friday’s visit from the Blackhawks.
When Chicago took a one-goal lead halfway through the first period, it looked like Carolina might be doing just that.
Then the Hurricanes found their second wind.
Carolina scored five unanswered goals in just over 12 minutes to take over and give goaltender Antti Raanta a 6-3 win in his first start with the Hurricanes and improve to 7-0-0 in front of 16,434 Friday at PNC Arena.
“First game, a lot of emotions in the game, and it was just so nice to get back in there behind this team,” said Raanta, who had 23 saves and improved to 4-1-1 against his former team.
It was an emotional night for Raanta as well — he was playing his first game since his father, Pekka, died in August.
“It’s been a rough couple a couple of months,” Raanta said. “He usually always texted me before the game, and it was kind of a weird feeling going to the game and not get that text from him.
“If anything, it’s just — to get this game and get this win to better remembering my dad. So that was kind of also a big thing for me.”
It was a big night in a different way for Tony DeAngelo, who scored Carolina’s first goal, assisted on two others and then fought Chicago’s Reese Johnson. After throwing his arms up to the crowd following the bout, he was serenaded with a “Tony! Tony!” chant. It was repeated when he was named the game’s first star — a stark contrast to the criticism he and the team faced when he was signed despite his tumultuous past and unceremonious exit from the Rangers.
“It might be starting to change, huh?” DeAngelo, sporting a cut next to his left eye from the fight with Johnson, said of the crowd’s reaction. “I think, you know, fans get into it, and I love that kind of stuff. … Really appreciative tonight for that kind of ovation. That means more than the fans might think.”
After scoring on an odd-man rush, DeAngelo then assisted on goals by Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov in the second period before finishing off the Gordie Howe hat trick with the scrap.
“I gave him a shot in second period, a little cross check there, and he asked me to go,” DeAngelo said of the reason for the fight. “I gave him a shot, so I got to do it, right? You can’t give guys shots and then when they ask say no.”
The last Hurricanes player to record a Gordie Howe hat trick was Brandon Sutter (3/17/12 at MIN). The last defenseman was Jay Harrison (1/12/12 at TBL). The last one at home was Erik Cole (1/24/03 vs. FLA).
— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) October 30, 2021
Jesperi Kotkaniemi — a night after he factored in Carolina’s first two goals by driving the net but not getting any points — scored his first goal at home as a Hurricane, finishing off a 2-on-1 with Sebastian Aho.
“It feels really good,” he said. “Like you said, last night, just play the right way and goals will come, like what we saw today. Just keep working hard and you’ll get the results.”
It was the last goal in a wild first period that saw six goals scored — with all four of the Hurricanes’ forward lines contributing — and ended with Carolina heading to the dressing room up 4-2.
“Our forwards are so deep that any time you’re out there with any line, you can control the play of the game,” DeAngelo said.
The Aho and Svechnikov goals in the middle frame made it 6-2 after two, and it led to a third period that was more sloppy than hockey. The Hurricanes were called for 10 penalties in all, five in the third period.
“It wasn’t a very fun game to coach,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t know how it was to watch, but it just didn’t have a flow. But we had done enough damage to get ahead and get through it.”
Notes: Nino Niederreiter left the game in the third period, and Brind’Amour said he suffered a lower body injury and “looks like he’ll be out for a while.” … Derek Stepan scored 17 seconds after Jordan Staal in the first period for his first goal and point with the Hurricanes. … Ian Cole got a secondary assist on Kotkaniemi’s goal for his first point with the Hurricanes. … Aho and Svechnikov each extended their point streaks to seven games.