Carolina won this game in a situation I’m sure they would rather not have been in but they emerge victorious from Elmont with four points in the final back to back of the season in a game with a few storylines to come out of it. Obviously, Antti Raanta having to come out is one of them and the biggest of the group, but as a whole, it was a good performance from the Hurricanes.
After Raanta was hurt making a quick reflex save on a tipped puck, the Hurricanes showed that they still have the ability to just clamp down on a game and put up fantastic defensive performances. This isn’t to say Pyotr Kochetkov wasn’t very good, but he wasn’t required to be an absolute gamechanger because the Canes started to play like the team we know they are in that third period in front of him.
This game sets up a clash on Tuesday night between the New York Rangers and the Canes at Madison Square Garden where the Hurricanes have a simple scenario to clinch the division. Simply win. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be done. However, we still have a little more to talk about from this game.
There was no Vincent Trocheck in this game due to an injury and the Canes performed very well in his absence. This is very noteworthy with the right-handed centerman being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. It’s obviously only one game, but the fact the team seemed to cope in his absence is reassuring. It could impact the Hurricanes’ offseason plans, so it’s worth mentioning.
What this means now is that Carolina controls their own fate regardless of what happens on Tuesday at MSG. This win gives Carolina a lot of wiggle room and forces all of the pressure onto the New York Rangers in the chase for the division title. In their first-ever game at UBS Arena at Belmont park, the Hurricanes get exactly what they needed.