Carolina Hurricanes: 3 Keys to a repeat performance vs Stars

RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 15: Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes looks to chip a puck past Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game on February 15, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 15: Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes looks to chip a puck past Mikko Koskinen #19 of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game on February 15, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /

On a night of several swings and misses, it was the Carolina Hurricanes that got the walk off win. As they enter the second game of their back to back, these are the keys to sweeping a great weekend.

Last night’s game was almost reminiscent of another game earlier this season. Just like the game against the Devils back in November, the first three goals of the game were scored early in the game. Again, the Hurricanes were the ones up by a single goal after the initial barrage. Curtis McElhinney also was in net for the Carolina Hurricanes as they didn’t allow another goal for the rest of the game. There were some subtle differences however.

The game against New Jersey saw the Carolina Hurricanes go up two within the first minute of play. While the Canes were the first to get on the board last night’s game saw the Oilers retaliate early after Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter connected for some true hockey magic. There is no question that El Nino has been the best midseason acquisition by the Carolina Hurricane in a long while.

The third goal of the game came even faster than the one the Devils scored to get within one of us back in November. With the game only 136 seconds old some more magnificent tic-tac-toe passing from Micheal Ferland and Teuvo Teravainen led to the game winning goal by Lucas Wallmark, who has been having a resurgence in the second half of this season and has been meshing very well with his new linemates.

The rest of the game was very tense for both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers. The second period seemed to be in Oilers control. But Curtis McElhinney and the defense shut down the Oilers top line effectively. Between Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, Connor McDavid‘s line could not get anything going and 40 of the 41 shots taken at McElhinney were nothing he couldn’t handle. That led to tensions rising high. And towards the end of the second, things got a little two chippy.

Nino Niederreiter got pushed illegally into the boards and Wes McCauley’s crew pulled their best impressions of Sandra Bullock on a Netflix movie. That didn’t sit well with Niederreiter, who must have thought the rules were changed between periods because he got up and hunted down the guilty party himself dishing out justice on his own à la Batman. But vigilantism is still illegal in the NHL so he ended up – luckily – with only two minutes. But the second period tensions didn’t end there.

At the end of the ensuing penalty kill, the Oilers pushed hard to try and tie the game. They got more and more physical. But Jordan Martinook was having none of it. Scraping several times after whistles, Marty kept trying to protect his eldest son, Andrei Svechnikov, from getting hurt while his youngest son looked on from the seats. After getting a little rough with another Edmonton Oiler, both were sent to the locker rooms to cool down before the third period.

The third period was the game clincher for the Carolina Hurricanes. The defense, led by Slavin and Pesce, shut down everything the Oilers had to throw at them. Pesce definitely showed that his defensive ceiling was almost infinite, saving several goals on his own much like Slavin did against the Rangers on the road last week.

Niederreiter sealed the deal with his second goal on the game after an amazing pass from Aho sprung him and allowed him to completely undress any and all Oilers in his path.

Curtis McElhinney shone once again. He has only allowed seven goals in his last four games. If you take out the Buffalo game, it’s only two goals allowed in three games. This man was a waiver pickup. Say what you will about the new GM Don Waddell, he is trusting in his scouts and making all the right decisions to get the Carolina Hurricanes back on track this season.

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Tonight’s three keys to victory:

Oh you thought this article was over? Like this weekend, like our season, like the Storm Surges that are giving Canadians aneurysms all over North America: it’s not over. Tonight the Carolina Hurricanes welcome the Dallas Stars, who are in the same predicament we are in, on the outside looking in and looking to get back into the playoffs. So here the the three keys to victory tonight.

1. Score first, score a lot

The Dallas Stars only have 63 points on the season, 3 less than what we own right now, this is true. They have had controversies throughout the season. This is also true. They were utterly crushed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 6-0 shutout two days ago. This is true as well. All signs of a team that can be marked as an easy W. And since we are playing them twice in the span of a week, it might seem that we can coast our way to a playoff spot off them.

But this is also the team that has allowed the least goals in the Western Conference, even after allowing six against the Lightning. While they have goal scoring woes, they are in the playoff conversation on the sole fact that they can keep scores low and win by scoring only one or two, a feat they have done eight times this season. The Carolina Hurricanes have only done it twice.

2. Keep the emotions in check

There is no point in getting emotional in games against Western Conference teams. We have our baggage, they have theirs. Let’s just let cool heads emerge victorious. We already know that refs will look the other way sometimes, vigilante justice only puts the team in a bad position to have to kill a penalty. Let’s get them riled up and frustrated instead. We should stay on our game and let the goal scoring do the talking for us.

The West is an absolute mess and Dallas’ players know it. Everyone has a shot of making the playoffs and will try to win in any way possible. The Carolina Hurricanes need to recognize this and play with a purpose. There is no room in these games to allow emotions to take control and cause more harm than good. Refs allow a bad hit? Skate back to the bench and allow the guys like Ferland and Brock McGinn to teach them what a clean hit looks like.

3. Drink coffee

This will be a later game than usual. With the 8pm puck drop, get some rest from yesterday’s game and then enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverage before coming in to win this game. This key to the game applies to the fans as well. Be prepared for a late bedtime. At Least tomorrow isn’t a school day. For those who have work on Sunday, get your coffee in the morning. But also drink some tonight as well.

For the Dallas Stars, who live one time zone away from us, it will be business as usual. They also didn’t play a game last night either. Maybe they will be rusty, maybe they will be ready. Whatever you do, do not look at the out of town scoreboard before coming into this late game. Just make sure you leave it all on the ice. Maybe we will be in a playoff spot. Maybe we will still be one point away. Maybe we will be sitting pretty at third in the metro, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win tonight.

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This will be another hard-fought battle between two teams looking to accomplish the same exact thing: crawl back into the playoffs after being on the outside looking in for a while. Expect some great play on both sides of the puck on both teams.


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Question for CC Readers: 

Who do you think is the better netminder? McElhinney or Mrazek?