Friday night was a busy one for the Carolina Hurricanes. With two games on the schedule in two places, there was a lot of preseason hockey to be played. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan for the Canes.
The action began in Sunrise as the Hurricanes’ first squad engaged in a rematch of Wednesday night’s tilt in Raleigh with the Florida Panthers. The group consisted primarily of rookies and PTO players, with Dmitry Orlov, Tony DeAngelo, and Michael Bunting among the group of veterans and Pyotr Kochetkov getting the start in the net.
While the intensity differed slightly from Wednesday’s game, the score was no different through two periods. Both teams had played solid defense, fighting off an abundance of penalties for the better part of the game. All it took was one defensive breakdown late in the second period by the Hurricanes to break the ice as Mackie Samoskevich got in behind the defense and slid a put past Pyotr Kochetkov to open the scoring.
Former Hurricane Steven Lorentz made his old team pay early in the third period, burying a short-handed breakaway to double the score. However, Lorentz’s goal was quickly met by Michael Bunting, knocking in a rebound at the front of the net 33 seconds later to draw back within a goal. The Panthers kept their 2-1 lead heading into the final minutes, but the Canes would pull even with their second tally on the man advantage. With the goalie on the bench to make it a 6-on-4, Brendan Perlini snapped a shot through traffic to tie it up with 1:59 left.
The good vibes wouldn’t last long as Florida responded 24 seconds later on a rebound chance that Gerry Mayhew jumped on to put the Panthers ahead again. Lucas Carlsson added an empty-netter to ice a 4-2 victory for the Panthers, handing the Canes their first preseason loss.
Almost 250 miles away, the Canes’ second squad took the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who they’d beaten on Tuesday night in their preseason opener. This group featured most of the team’s Top 9 forwards, marking the preseason debut for Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis, Martin Necas, Teuvo Teravainen, and the entire Staal line. Yaniv Perets was given complete control of the net for this one for the first time in his short NHL.
The Canes looked like they were in mid-season form in the worst way possible. After a solid effort on Tuesday night against the Bolts, Dylan Coghlan made the first big mistake of the night, fanning on a pass that went to Anthony Cirelli, and he made no mistake as he lofted a backhander past Perets. After Tampa Bay scored on the power play in the second, a turnover by Coghlan at the blue line allowed Cirelli to play catch with Zach Bogosian as Cirelli netted his second of the night.
On the other end of the ice, the Canes had no answer for Jonas Johansson. With the recent injury to Andrei Vasilevskiy, Johansson had a strong showing tonight, stopping all 42 shots Carolina threw at him to help ease the worries of a team without their star goalie. Luke Glendening provided the dagger for Tampa Bay as the Canes dropped their second game of the night 4-0 to the Bolts.
While both games resulted in losses for the Hurricanes, it’s worth repeating that preseason results don’t mean much, so don’t take too much stock in the Canes going 0-2 tonight. There are still some positives to take away from both games.
Across both games, the Hurricanes combined to go 7-for-8 on the penalty kill, with the group in Sunrise killing all five of their penalties. The power play also looked very good against the Panthers, scoring twice at crucial points. The difference in the game was the short-handed goal the penalty kill allowed at the beginning of the third period.
I liked what I saw from Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas as they hit the ice for the first time this season. Necas finished the night with five shots, tying Justin Robidas and Jalen Chatfield, who I also thought had strong games. It wasn’t a bad effort for the group against the Lightning, and I’m more than willing to chalk it up to most of the top forwards getting back into the swing of things.
The most encouraging sign of the night was the play of Pyotr Kochetkov and Yaniv Perets. Both goalies played the entire game and showed why they have promising careers ahead of them. Kochetkov has been around the block before, so we know what to expect from him. Perets did get a little help from his goalposts tonight, and while four goals against isn’t the greatest, it’s hard to succeed when you’re thrown in the line of fire by the team in front of you.
The Hurricanes will have plenty of time to rest before their next game on Thursday October 7th night against the Nashville Predators in Nashville. It’ll be the first game of a home-and-home with the Predators to close out the preseason. Some tough decisions are looming for the organization, which will need to have the team nailed down before the team opens the season on October 11 against Ottawa.