On the night before Thanksgiving, the Carolina Hurricanes were back in action for the first time since Saturday for the third game of their five-game homestand. Their win against the Penguins over the weekend was a massive team effort, bouncing back from a disappointing showing against the Flyers. With Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in town in need of a spark to turn their season around, the Canes started the Thanksgiving festivities a little early.
Antti Raanta was back in the net for the Hurricanes after his win against Pittsburgh. The only lineup change saw Jalen Chatfield rejoin the group, with Tony DeAngelo serving as the healthy extra. Edmonton turned to Stuart Skinner in the net in the hopes he’d be able to put together a solid game.
If you were looking for the Hurricanes to establish their dominance early against a team down on their luck, you got what you wished for tonight. The Staal line finally got the payoff they deserved. Jordan Staal started the play by sending the puck to the point for Jalen Chatfield. His drive hit Jordan Martinook but landed right in front of Jesper Fast for a tap-in goal. Before the goal announcement could be read, Jack Drury and Michael Bunting got away on a 2-on-1. Drury passed it to Bunting, who passed it back to Drury. Evan Bouchard nearly kept it out, but Drury got just enough of it to extend the lead just 35 seconds later.
Not satisfied with just two goals, the top line got to it on the forecheck. Seth Jarvis was the first man in, forcing a pass around the boards to pop out to Sebastian Aho. Returning the favor for the goal he scored on Saturday, Aho passed it back to Teuvo Teravainen, and he tapped it home for his tenth of the season to give Carolina three goals in 2:06. They struck again near the end of the period. Jalen Chatfield made a tremendous defensive play to take Connor McDavid off the puck. Teravainen found Jarvis as he snuck before the defense, and he put one off the far post to end Stuart Skinner’s night after less than 15 minutes. Edmonton would get one back on the power play late in the period, but the Hurricanes were all over the Oilers to start the game.
The weird game got even weirder as Pyotr Kochetkov was in the net to start the second period. Antti Raanta was ruled out of the game for precautionary reasons with a lower-body injury. The prevailing theory is that he tweaked something as he made the initial stop on what eventually became Zach Hyman’s goal in the first. Regardless, Kochetkov was being thrown into the fire.
The Kotkaniemi line saw all the fun the rest of the team was having and decided to extend the lead early in the second. Andrei Svechnikov made a great pass to Martin Necas, who put home his own rebound with four Oilers standing around him. Sebastian Aho thought he’d made the game 6-1 during a 4-on-4, but he was ruled offside, taking a goal off the board for the second straight game. Naturally, Edmonton would score the next goal, getting a short-handed marker late in the period from Mattias Ekholm.
The third period was the best Edmonton looked all night. They came out of the break buzzing and had Zach Hyman’s early chance not hit the post, we could be talking about a different game. Hyman would eventually get his second goal a few minutes later to cut the game to 5-3, putting the Caniacs on the edge of their seats. That’s when the penalty kill came up huge. They got a kill shortly after Hyman’s goal, then Brent Burns iced the game in the final minutes with a short-handed empty-netter, relieving our stress to win 6-3.
No matter how much they’re struggling, the Oilers are the one team whose two superstars make no lead safe. Even at 5-1, there was still plenty of time for them to take over. While both McDavid and Draisaitl found the scoresheet, the Hurricanes made them obsolete. They forced them to spend the first two periods playing in their defensive zone. They combined for two assists, three shots, and a +/- of -7. When they were split in the third period, the offense showed signs of life. Regardless, the Canes didn’t allow them to become a factor.
It also helped that the offense started early and poured it on. All four lines scored a goal, with the Aho line scoring twice, but it was the Staal and Drury lines that set the tone with two goals in 35 seconds. Fifteen of the Canes’ 18 skaters recorded a point tonight, the most in a game since the team relocated to North Carolina. Once again, our stars were better than theirs, and good things happened.
Pyotr Kochetkov deserves a little praise for his work tonight. Though he came in with a significant lead, this game could’ve taken a turn with the change in the net. He made an early poke check to deny Ryan McLeod, and it was clear he was ready to go. I can’t fault him for either goal, and he made some great stops to preserve the lead. Most importantly, he withstood the onslaught in the third period to keep the Canes’ multi-goal lead intact.
Business is about to start picking up for the Hurricanes, playing every other day for the rest of the month. They’ll play the night after Thanksgiving, as the Tampa Bay Lightning will be in town to finish their season series with the Canes. The homestand ends on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team will take a quick trip up the Philadelphia but will return home to host the Islanders to finish November.