The keys to winning in the 21st-century NHL are solid goaltending and competent special teams — and the Carolina Hurricanes got plenty of each Saturday in Columbus.
The Carolina power play converted three times, and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for his and the Hurricanes’ fourth win in as many games in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jackets.
Vincent Trocheck had two goals — including one on the power play — and an assist, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each scored with the man advantage, and Carolina’s penalty kill was 4-for-5 in another convincing win.
“It’s good to get off to a good start, power play and penalty kill,” Trocheck said. “Special teams are gonna be huge. … So to get off to a hot start, it gives us a little bit confidence and helps our team win some games.”
While the Hurricanes’ brief two-game road trip ended with two lopsided wins, coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the game there’s still plenty for his 4-0-0 team to work on.
“Our overall game, they could be sharper there,” Brind’Amour said. “But we are making some good plays and we’re working hard, and that’s showing in the victories right now.”
When Carolina wasn’t sharp, Andersen was there to clean it up. The 32-year-old goalie has a league-best .944 save percentage on the season, and the only goal he allowed Saturday came on a 5-on-3 Columbus power play.
“He’s off to a great start,” Staal said of Andersen. “There’s definitely no better feeling than when you make a big mistake and your goalie bails you out. … Calm, cool, just looks good in the net and has made big saves look easy.”
While Andersen was shutting down Columbus’ attack, the Hurricanes used their power play to keep the Blue Jackets at arm’s length.
After Jesper Fast opened the scoring — his third goal of the season, all coming in first periods — off a steal and pass by Staal, Carolina needed just seven seconds of a double-minor penalty to extend its lead to two in the opening frame.
After a faceoff win, Andrei Svechnikov took a wrist shot from the point that hit Trocheck and went into the net to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead at 13:35 of the first period.
The Blue Jackets got a power play goal of their own, converting early in a 5-on-3 when Boone Jenner jammed a loose puck past Andersen to cut the lead in half at 7:19 of the second period.
Carolina’s power play was quick to respond. In the final minutes of the second period, Brett Pesce’s point shot made it to the Columbus net, and Staal jammed it in for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.
“When the power plays clicking, it makes it easier to win games,” Staal said.
Aho gave the Hurricanes a third power play goal 7:05 into the third, firing a shot from the high slot that cleanly beat Joonas Korpisalo (28 saves) to give Carolina a 4-1 lead.
Trocheck then got his second goal with just under four minutes left, one-timing a nice Svechnikov pass on the rush into the net for the game’s final goal.
“For me, it’s just a matter of playing simple and going to the net and watching (wingers Svechnikov and Martin Necas) do their thing,” Trocheck said.
Notes: Svechnikov didn’t score for the first time this season but did have two assists, giving him a team-high seven points. … Tony DeAngelo assisted on Trocheck’s first goal, giving the defenseman four assists — all on the power play — through four games. He also played 20:08, three minutes more than his high in his first three games with the Hurricanes. … Aho won all but one of his nine faceoffs. … Former Carolina defenseman Jake Bean, traded to Columbus at the draft, played 20:19, finished a minus-1 with two penalty minutes and had no shot attempts.