Carolina Hurricanes: Another win extends streak to five

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Saku Maenalanen #8 of the Carolina Hurricanes is congratulated by his teammates after scoring his first NHL goal during the first period as Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders reacts at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 08, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Saku Maenalanen #8 of the Carolina Hurricanes is congratulated by his teammates after scoring his first NHL goal during the first period as Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders reacts at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 08, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes have accomplished several things they haven’t in a long time. They defeated Thomas Greiss and the New York Islanders, and extended their winning streak to five games.

The Carolina Hurricanes visited Long Island and contended against the New York Islanders in Nassau Colosseum in search of their first five game win streak since 2016. Curtis McElhinney started in net for the Hurricanes and Thomas Greiss stop-gapped the pipes for the Islanders. The Hurricanes weren’t the only ones looking to extend a streak. The Islanders were looking for their seventh win in a row and so was Thomas Greiss, who was 6-0-0 against the Hurricanes in his last six match-ups against them.

The game started like any other matchup between these teams, with over ten quiet minutes of excellent defense. But as each offense continued to push harder, one defense had to fold. Unfortunately for Carolina, it was Justin Faulk who made the first defensive mistake. Trying to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, Faulk banked it off the side walls. What he failed to recognize was that New York was doing a line change and Brock Nelson, coming onto the ice, managed to secure the puck in the zone and launch it at a well screened McElhinney. That gave the Islanders a one goal lead and everything seemed to go as scheduled.

Less than 90 seconds later, the Carolina Hurricanes managed to answer with a goal of their own. With the puck bouncing all over the ice in the Islanders zone, Saku Maenalanen managed to find it in the air with a glove and knock it down to himself right in front of the net. Several sticks reached for the loose puck once it hit the ground desperate to make it go their way. After the dust settled and the sticks retreated, several went into the air. The puck had found its way behind Greiss and Maenalanen found himself with his first career NHL goal:

The rest of the period proceeded quietly with both defenses doubling their efforts to minimize mistakes. The game seemed destined to be a tie going into the second, but Greg McKegg, playing his third NHL game of the season, had other ideas. With less than ten seconds left in the period, the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t lift their foot off the gas. Micheal Ferland found himself at the point and saw two Hurricanes, McKegg and Justin Williams driving to the net. Smartly he launched the puck at the net in hopes one of the two would do something with it. McKegg obliged, redirecting the puck while screening Greiss to break the netminder’s streak of three single GAA games against the Hurricanes:

The second period didn’t seem as kind for the Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach Barry Trotz had the Islanders respond with a flurry of furious attacks. Each time however, Curtis McElhinney continued to say no, quietly getting into the heads of the New York team. At one point early in the period, it seemed like New York had tied the game. Jordan Eberle found himself some real estate in the slot and managed to beat Curtis McElhinney 5-hole. The Islanders celebrated, thinking they had finally gotten past the journeyman netminder. But Rod Brind’Amour and the Hurricane’s video coaches decided to challenge for offside. Any seasoned Hurricanes fan will tell you that these calls virtually never go our way. Bill Peters had a win % for coach’s challenges that was about 1%. This was HCRB’s first….and he won it. It marked a serious change from the old coaching regime.

The third period started by killing the enjoyment of having won that coaching challenge. Anders Lee found Devon Toews at the opposite point with plenty of traffic in-front of the net. Toews, whose presence seems to have fueled the Islanders’ win streak, fired at the net and past the glove of McElhinney to tie the game and finally give the New York fans something to cheer about since the 13 minute mark of the first period. That forced both defenses to re-engage once again and the quiet game continued until it seemed like they were going to take a tie into overtime.

Going into overtime and giving the Islanders any points in this matchup was unacceptable to the Hurricanes however – they NEEDED to win this one in regulation. With only three minutes left and a penalty just having been killed by the Hurricanes the Captain, Justin Williams, having been fed a juicy puck out in front of Greiss by McKegg, delivered:

But the Islanders kept coming and coming hard. They battled with a physical tenacity that seemed to keep the Hurricanes on their toes. But sometimes they battled a little too hard. With only two minutes left in the game, Brock McGinn found himself boarded into the side wall and the Carolina Hurricanes were awarded a man advantage. With the Islanders playing to score a shorthanded goal, the Hurricanes skated the regular two defenders instead of the single defender to skate an extra forward. That paid off as Dougie Hamilton found Jaccob Slavin, who shot a monster of a wrister through everyone for the fourth Hurricanes goal with a little over a minute left in regulation.

That ended up being the most important goal as the Islanders responded with a goal of their own only EIGHT seconds later. The onslaught of offense form the Islanders continued for the final minute of the game as the Carolina Hurricanes defense and Curtis McElhinney continued to keep pucks away from the back of the net until the final horn. This was a tough-fought victory. One that was critical to win in order to return to a playoff spot as well as end the issues that plagued this team at the end of the previous calendar year.

3. 106. 4. 109. Final

The Carolina Hurricanes managed to escape the New York Islanders with a win and avoid the four game sweep for the season. They managed to defeat Greiss for the first time in what feels like forever. Now its onto the next opponent. The journey is still a long one.

Next. Grading the Canes' defenseman halfway through the season. dark

Question for CC Readers:

Can the Carolina Hurricanes keep this up? Is the opportunity to get back into the season there for this team or will the next three opponents of Tampa, Buffalo, and Nashville bring us back down to earth?