Without Aho, the Carolina Hurricanes Ride Their Power Play in San Jose

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 11: The Carolina Hurricanes acknowledge the fans following their 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at PNC Arena on October 11, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 11: The Carolina Hurricanes acknowledge the fans following their 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at PNC Arena on October 11, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

After being humbled in Anaheim on Sunday night, the Carolina Hurricanes needed to come out against the San Jose Sharks and make a statement. It took the message a while to be sent because we were very close to talking about this game in a different light. Fortunately, things started to connect in the third period, leading to an emphatic finish to a largely one-sided affair.

The news before the game wasn’t what Hurricanes fans wanted to hear. After participating in the morning skate, it was announced shortly before warm-ups that Sebastian Aho would miss the game with an upper-body injury. They looked poised to run a traditional 12/6 lineup, with Jalen Chatfield re-joining for Tony DeAngelo. Instead, they resorted to the same format as Opening Night, running all seven defensemen in front of Frederik Andersen.

It’s not ideal to allow a goal on the first shot, but that’s what the Carolina Hurricanes did. Tomas Hertl made a beautiful stretch pass to spring Fabian Zetterlund, who buried it above the blocker to make it 1-0 early for the Sharks. Quick responses were something of a theme in the game for both teams. Less than a minute later, with the Hurricanes on the power play, Seth Jarvis snuck a rebound past Mackenzie Blackwood for his first goal of the season to tie the game.

San Jose quickly earned a power play of their own, and on their first shot, Frederik Andersen took it between his eyes, stunning him. Andersen was slow to get back to his feet, and it was determined he needed to be looked at, bringing in Antti Raanta just 5:27 into the game. He didn’t face much from the Sharks, as the Hurricanes outshot them 18-5 after 20 minutes.

Penalties ruled the second period. All three goals in the period came on special teams. It started with Jaccob Slavin getting a short-handed breakaway. His initial chance was denied, but his rebound wasn’t, giving the Carolina Hurricanes their fourth short-handed goal of the season. However, 17 seconds later, Filip Zadina responded as the power play continued, tying the game again. Near the end of the period, William Eklund played a puck off the end boards and beat Antti Raanta to the post, giving San Jose back the lead. The Hurricanes unsuccessfully challenged the goal, but it wouldn’t come back to hurt them, sending the game to the third period with Carolina needing to erase a one-goal deficit.

Mackenzie Blackwood continued to stifle every chance the Hurricanes threw at him. He made so many sprawling saves on odd-man rushes that it started to feel like we had to accept our fate. In my infinite wisdom, I forgot how great the power play is all of a sudden. With one second left on a man advantage, Stefan Noesen knocked one past Blackwood to tie the game. The Canes drew another penalty less than two minutes later and converted again. This time, Seth Jarvis scored from the bumper position, picking up his second goal and giving the Canes a 4-3 lead.

Martin Necas made it a two-goal game with a beautiful wrap-around goal three minutes later, and Brett Pesce scored from the point 15 seconds after that to make it a four-goal period. This would be enough to finish the job as the Canes rebounded for a 6-3 win behind three goals from the power play.

We need to discuss one minor incident that occurred late in the second period. With the puck in the corner, Tony DeAngelo came down from the point and was knocked down by the referee. DeAngelo must’ve said something about it because he was given a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. As he skated off at the end of the period, he continued to speak with the referee, earning him an additional ten-minute misconduct that he served for the first half of the third period. I like to think NHL officials have thick skin, but on the surface, this felt like a “hurt feelings” call. Hockey is a fast-moving game, but you must know that a player will be mad when you interfere, unintentional or not. DeAngelo must’ve said something really bad to get his 12 minutes in penalties. Otherwise, this felt soft.

The 6-3 final won’t tell the entire story of this game. The Carolina Hurricanes deserved to win but waited a long time to realize it. They outplayed the Sharks for two periods but were on the wrong side of the score coming out for the third. Their four-goal third period was the culmination of all the incredible saves Mackenzie Blackwood made being paid back. The Hurricanes kept the receipts and cashed out for four goals in 6:01.

Without their superstar in the lineup, many guys stepped up to play their best games of the season. Six players recorded multi-point games, led by two goals from Seth Jarvis. Martin Necas has goals in back-to-back games, and he gave us memories from the 2021 Playoffs with his wrap-around beauty. Brady Skjei now sits atop the league in assists and points by a defenseman after another multi-point performance. Antti Raanta came in cold and stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced. His save on Mario Ferraro early in the third period to keep it a one-goal game allowed the team to make their comeback.

The West Coast swing has passed the halfway point, with just two stops remaining. The Carolina Hurricanes are finally leaving California for Seattle to face a Kraken team hunting for its first win. The swing ends in Colorado for a matchup between two of the league’s best teams.