After a successful Opening Night, and under the bright lights of Los Angeles, the Carolina Hurricanes began a long road trip against the Kings on Saturday night. For us on the East Coast, this meant our first installment of Canes After Dark. Switching to the more traditional 12/6 lineup, the Hurricanes seemed to have the game in the bag midway through the second period. Little did we know, we were in for a long night.
The Carolina Hurricanes, especially Brent Burns, came out flying when the puck dropped. After throwing a puck off the post on the power play, Burns opened the scoring by snapping a shot over the glove of Kings goalie Pheonix Copley. Just under two and a half minutes later, Sebastian Aho doubled the lead with a short-handed breakaway goal, setting a new franchise record with the 17th short-handed goal of his career. Jesperi Kotkaniemi joined the fun by sneaking a shot under the pads of Copley to make it 3-0, giving the Hurricanes complete control. Even after Drew Doughty broke through Frederik Andersen late in the period, the Canes had to be happy with their position, leading 3-1 after 20 minutes.
The lead was stretched back to three goals early in the second period when Brendan Lemieux, making his Hurricanes debut against his former team, joined the shooting gallery with a beautiful shot. The Kings quickly responded as Anze Kopitar tapped a puck home on the backdoor on the power play, but Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen put their chemistry on full display while short-handed, with Aho feeding Teravainen on a 2-on-1 to restore the three-goal lead with their second short-handed marker of the night. Los Angeles’ power play struck again on a Trevor Moore drive to make it 5-3, setting up a tense third period as the Kings started to claw back into the game.
The third period was primarily spent with the Kings on offense. Frederik Andersen was doing everything in his power to keep it a 5-3 game, and the penalty kill came up with a timely kill to push the third period past the midway point. The moment that changed the game came when Sebastian Aho found himself on another short-handed breakaway. Pheonix Copley came up with a huge save, eventually leading to Vladislav Gavrikov capitalizing on a broken play to shrink the lead to one goal. The Carolina Hurricanes needed another big kill after Jesperi Kotkaniemi was called for tripping in the offensive zone. While they got the kill, the Kings completed the comeback with the extra attacker as Anze Kopitar tied the game with his second tap-in of the night to make it 5-5.
As deflating as it was, the Canes made it to overtime to ensure one point for their efforts. Neither team scored during the five-minute 3-on-3, with the Canes missing the net several times, meaning a shootout would be needed. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the third round, Sebastian Aho extended the game with a beautiful move to get Pheonix Copley out of position for an easy goal. In the bottom of the fifth, needing another goal to extend, Martin Necas would answer the call, sliding a puck through Copley’s pads to keep the marathon rolling.
At 1:36 a.m. on Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes finally walked it off in the bottom of the ninth. Jordan Martinook came into the zone with speed, faked Copley out, and buried the game-winner on the backhand to secure the second point.
Finding the proper words to describe this game to someone who didn’t watch it is hard because there are many different ways to view it. It’s rare for the Carolina Hurricanes to be outshot, let alone 30-19 like they were on Saturday. The one thing they made sure to do was take advantage of their chances early. The Hurricanes only had 15 shots through two periods, yet they’d scored five times. Their scoring chances dried in the final 25 minutes, managing just four shots in the third period and overtime.
The real story of the night was the number of penalties. There were 13 penalties in the game, eight on Carolina and five on Los Angeles. The game never found a rhythm, especially in the second and third periods. While I can’t speak to the validity of some of the penalties, it looked like the referees enjoyed blowing their whistles. This isn’t a new concern for the Carolina Hurricanes. They’re known to rely heavily on their penalty kill at times due to lapses in discipline.
At the end of the day, or the beginning, depending on how you look at it, the scoreboard shows a 6-5 win for the Carolina Hurricanes, meaning they started the road trip with a victory. They’ll have little time to celebrate as they play again on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks, who’ll also be playing the second half of a back-to-back. It would be safe to assume Antti Raanta will make his season debut against the Ducks. It wasn’t pretty, but the Hurricanes got the job done. Let’s hope the rest of the trip isn’t this stressful.