It doesn’t happen often, but Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can apparently get shut down.
The Hurricanes kept both of the Oilers’ Hart Trophy winners off the score sheet and got three points from their own star in a 3-1 win Saturday night in Edmonton.
For the second straight game, Sebastian Aho opened and closed the scoring, adding an assist to give him 12 points during his current five-game point streak. The points, he said, are a product of the overall process.
“What comes first in our team is to do every detail right and just trust your linemates like they’re gonna see you when I’m open,” Aho said, “and when I have the puck that I can make the right play. But the work comes first.”
The Hurricanes got work throughout the lineup beyond Aho — specifically from Jaccob Slavin and Frederik Andersen.
For the fourth time in five games, Slavin logged more than 29 minutes of ice time to stabilize a defense that has been decimated by COVID-19. But he didn’t have any trouble getting up for a matchup against McDavid and Draisaitl.
“They’re world-class players and they’re special,” Slavin said of lining up opposite McDavid and Draisaitl. “So when you get to play against them and try to shut them down, those are the games you kind of dream of as a kid.”
And then there was Andersen, who has shaken off a 4-5-0 November to start December with three straight wins. He saved his best performance of the month so far for the Oilers, making 24 stops to backstop Carolina’s effort to slow Edmonton’s attack.
“He stood on his head all night, but especially down the stretch there,” Slavin said. “He was making some huge saves. If not for him, I don’t know if we win that game.”
The Hurricanes’ offense, led by Aho, has also reemerged since the calendar flipped. And that was the case again Saturday.
With Edmonton forward Zack Kassian in the penalty box for boarding Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina’s power play got off to a fast start when Aho got two whacks at a chance in front and scored for the third straight game to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 7:17 of the first.
The Hurricanes and Oilers exchanged goals in the second period — one goal by Nino Niederreiter followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring his third of the season — to set up another tight third period.
After staying out of the penalty box for the first two periods, Carolina gave Edmonton’s No. 1 power play two chances in the third period on two calls against defenseman Brady Skjei.
The Hurricanes’ second-ranked penalty kill kept the Oilers off the board and limited them to four shots.
Then Aho struck again, pouncing on a misplayed puck by Koskinen to give Carolina a two-goal cushion and seal the win.
“They got to be noticeable every night to be consistent as a group,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Aho, Slavin and Andersen. “It starts with those guys, and they were all that tonight.”