If extra hockey was what you wanted in the first game back from the All-star game, then you got your wish in this one. It took the extra 5-minute three-on-three frame to split the two teams, and the Canes, in the end, were edged out. This was a short-handed Canes team, traveling without one of the vaunted SAT line. Players also left the game with injuries and returned, not to mention those on the COVID-19 protocol list.
For a team that was down three of its best 12 forwards at points in this game, Carolina played very well. They scored the first goal, battled back when Toronto took the lead, and even held a lead with around 6 minutes left in regulation. To stand toe to toe with a team like Toronto when you’re missing 25% of your forward core and 33% of your top-six for a portion of this game is just an impressive achievement.
As both franchises iced goaltenders that played for the opponent last year, Carolina’s Great Dane was trumped in his former stomping ground. Instead, it was the dazzling Czech netminder the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up in the summer that was the star of this show. It was a solid battle in that regard all game, as anything one could do, the other was desperate to not be upstaged, but the forward talent on display ended up winning out.
When the Hurricanes set out in this one, we knew that they were undermanned. The fact that they pushed to the extra frame with Toronto and got a point in Scotiabank Arena with that incredible pool of talent at the other end of the rink was a testament to how well the Carolina Hurricanes played and the incredible ability to focus on the task at hand and deal with the punches as the roll with that “next man up” mentality.