Hurricanes shake off rust, blow past Flames

Carolina scored three straight in the second period en route to a season sweep of Calgary

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei fires the puck past Flames goaltender Dan Vladar for a goal during Carolina's 6-3 win Friday in Raleigh. (Chris Seward / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — For most of the opening 20 minutes of Friday’s game, the Carolina Hurricanes looked like a team that hadn’t played since last weekend.

The team that showed up for the second period looked like it hadn’t missed a beat.

Carolina got goals from Derek Stepan, Andrei Svechnikov and Tony DeAngelo in the middle frame to seize control and never looked back, winning 6-3 for their fifth straight victory and a season sweep of the Calgary Flames in front of 16,281 at PNC Arena.

“I kind of figured that was going to happen,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of his team’s slow start. “Playing a really good team that plays quick, plays hard. We’re just coming off that long break, and as much as you talk about it, you’ve got to be in the rhythm. It just took us a while.”

After a disjointed first period that saw the Hurricanes outshot 21-10, Carolina more than doubled up the Flames 18-7 in the second and scored three times in 4:55.

With the game tied 1-1, Steven Lorentz made a power move toward the Calgary net but lost control of the puck. It went right to Stepan, who put a shot past Dan Vladar (31 saves) for his fourth goal of the year to give Carolina its first lead at 7:40 of the second period.

Just over 100 seconds later, Svechnikov doubled the lead when he was able to corral a pass that was behind him and fire a shot that tricked through Vladar at 9:22.

Then, after a scramble near the Calgary net, DeAngelo cleaned up a loose puck to Vladar’s right and scored his sixth of the season to make it 4-1 at 12:35.

The Flames clawed their way back into the game, getting a goal from Matthew Tkachuk at 13:26 of the second and another from Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway near the third period’s midway point to make it 4-3 Carolina.

Svechnikov then took a penalty that gave Calgary a chance to tie the game on the power play. But Carolina’s penalty kill — last scored upon Dec. 7 — brushed off the Flames’ man advantage.

“It’s been good. We’ve got to keep it going,” defenseman Brady Skjei said of the league’s second-ranked PK.

Skjei then contributed offensively, ripping a shot past Vladar on a delayed penalty for the second three-point night of his career at 18:08. He has seven points in his last four games.

“I’ve honestly had some pretty good looks coming right down the slot, and I’ve just been lucky to take advantage of those opportunities,” Skjei said. “Hopefully I can keep finding those spots and putting the puck in the back of the net.”

Brind’Amour often talks about needing contributions from up and down the lineup, and while being half of a shutdown pair with Brett Pesce is Skjei’s main calling card, the coach knows there’s more to his game than defense.

“It’s not really surprising to me that he’s able to do this,” Brind’Amour said of Skjei, who had two goals in Carolina’s last game, a 7-4 win in Columbus.

Skjei doesn’t expect his hot streak to last forever. When asked if he can be expected to notch at least one goal a game going forward, he chuckled and suggested no one should put money down on his goal streak continuing in perpetuity.

“No,” he said with a grin. “I would love to, but we’ll see how long this lasts. I’d say the betting odds of that lasting pretty small.”

The Flames made a last-ditch effort by challenging Skjei’s goal for goaltender interference, but it failed, and Svechnikov got his second of the night and 12th of the season on the power play with 55 seconds remaining to put an end cap on a 6-3 win.

“Always when you score you’re going to get more confident,” said Svechnikov, who has three goals and two assists in his last three games after managing just one point in the first five games of December. “It wasn’t lucky for me the last 10 games probably. I tried to shoot but it wasn’t going in. So thank god I scored a couple today and we’ll see from that.”

None of it would have mattered had Carolina not survived the first — largely because of Frederik Andersen.

The rust that Brind’Amour was worried about after a long layoff was evident early. Andersen (36 saves) blockered away a chance following a Lorentz neutral zone turnover, but that was quickly followed by another miscue that wound up in Carolina’s net.

Jordan Staal attempted to chip the puck back to the defense at the Hurricanes’ blue line, but it instead went directly to Calgary’s Blake Coleman, who fired a shot that beat Andersen cleanly and gave the Flames a 1-0 lead 5:12 into the game.

But despite allowing the most shots on goal in any period this season, Carolina escaped the first period even on the scoreboard thanks to Andersen and the equalizing goal with 2:45 left in the first.

Skjei first worked the puck to the point, and Pesce’s shot was redirected by Jesper Fast — playing in his 500th career NHL game — past Vladar to tie the game at 1-1.

“That was a turning point,” Brind’Amour said. “I think it was, “OK, wow. We’re not playing that great, but we’re not down.’”

Fast, who also had an assist, said the Hurricanes of old were back at the start of the second.

“I think we became a little bit of a different team after the first period there, and we really deserved the lead we got in the second period,” he said.

Notes: Carolina won 39 of 63 faceoffs (62%), led by a 12-of-17 effort by Sebastian Aho. … Lorentz entered the game with five goals and no assists but earned to helpers in the win. … Lindholm now has points in all three games he’s played as a visitor in Raleigh, but he was held without a shot on goal on Friday. … Noah Hanifin, the other former Hurricanes draft pick traded to the Flames during the summer of 2019, was a minus-3. … Jesperi Kotkaniemi assisted on Skjei’s goal and extended his point streak to a career-best six games. His previous longest point streak was Feb. 2-7, 2019, when he had goals in four straight games as a rookie with Montreal.