A Hot Start Helps the Hurricanes Roll to a One-Sided Victory in the Desert

Martinook's goal 16 seconds into the contest sets the tone for the Canes in a 5-1 victory over the Coyotes in Tempe.

Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes
Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The road trip didn't start exactly how the Carolina Hurricanes had hoped after suffering a 4-2 loss in Dallas on Tuesday night. They had a few days to recover before storming into Mullett Arena to face the Arizona Coyotes. With it being the first half of a back-to-back, the Canes were hoping to set the tone by taking down a team struggling during a seven-game losing streak.

While the team deployed the same group from Tuesday's loss, Rod Brind'Amour shook up the lines. Most notable was Jesper Fast jumping to the first line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Pyotr Kochetkov earned his fifth straight start after allowing three goals to the Stars. Arizona started Karel Vejmelka after Connor Ingram, who was fantastic when these two met before the All-Star Break, left their last game with an injury.

I hope you were in your seats on time because, if you weren't, you missed a quick strike from one of the league's hottest scorers in 2024. Jordan Martinook needed just 16 seconds to find the back of the net, burying a backhander after a scorching pass from Brady Skjei. Before the five-minute mark, the Canes struck again. Martin Necas tried for a patented wrap-around, and while he couldn't finish it, the puck made its way to Jalen Chatfield. The Canes defenseman shot the puck into an open net to double the lead.

Despite the early dominance from the Hurricanes, the Coyotes didn't sit back and allow them to get too comfortable. While Pyotr Kochetkov was keeping them out, he couldn't stop all of them. Dylan Guenther got into the zone with speed and space before snapping one past the blocker of Kochetkov to give the Coyotes some life late in the period. Almost immediately after that, Matt Dumba fired a puck off the crossbar. Add a sprawling stop to take the puck off the line by Kochetkov, and the Coyotes were dangerously close to tying the game before the horn sounded for the intermission.

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Arizona's momentum carried into the second period, aided by a penalty by Brady Skjei that carried into the middle frame. The Canes killed it, but Lawson Crouse hit the crossbar as the man advantage ended. All it took was one bounce to turn the game squarely in the Canes' favor. An attempted pass out of the zone hit a Coyotes skate as the puck shuffled to Seth Jarvis. Without a second of hesitation, Jarvis slapped one into the top corner to restore the two-goal lead.

From there, the Canes were in the driver's seat. A penalty to Jordan Martinook put the Hurricanes on the kill again, and it ended a little early as Nick Bjugstad was shown the door for roughing. With the power play getting its first chance to work, the second unit took full advantage of the opportunity. A crisp passing sequence nearly led to Jack Drury scoring, but Karel Vejmelka got over to make the stop. The loose puck found its way to Teuvo Teravainen, who knocked the rebound home with Vejmelka unaware of the puck's whereabouts.

With a 4-1 lead, the Canes were in complete control. After killing their third penalty of the night, Michael Bunting added to the lead, getting a backhander to squeak through the goalie, ending his night during the commercial break. This gave way to a cool moment as Arizona sent Matt Villalta into the game to make his NHL debut. He only faced four shots in the final 13:39, but Villalta stopped all of them. On the other end of the ice, Pyotr Kochetkov kept it clean, minus a tripping penalty as he attempted another flying poke check. The penalty kill got the job done as the clock rolled down in a 5-1 win for the visitors.

This was about as crisp a win as you could've hoped for from the Hurricanes. Minus the stretch between the first and second periods when the Coyotes controlled the play, this was the type of game you'd expect from this group against an opponent going through it at the moment. While the Coyotes owned a slight edge in shots, the Canes won where it mattered. The most staggering stat of the night was that Carolina won nearly 75 percent of the faceoffs in the game.

Most of the offense at 5-on-5 rolled through two lines. Jack Drury's line with Michael Bunting and Martin Necas was easily the team's best, combining for five points and playing a majority of their shifts in the offensive zone. The Staal line stayed hot, scoring the two most important goals of the game. The Aho line was better than in Dallas, though still too quiet for my liking, and while the Kotkaniemi line didn't find much success at even strength, Teuvo Teravainen and Stefan Noesen contributed on the power play.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a quiet 30-save performance, but Pyotr Kochetkov had a great game without needing to be overly fancy. We had the usual theatrics, like the flying poke check or the stop from the right dot in the first period, but he was clean otherwise. I was a little surprised to see him get the start, but I understand the team's reasoning, considering the upcoming schedule. This was another in a group of solid starts since he became the guy in the net.

The Hurricanes will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Vegas for a Saturday night battle in The Fortress. Their meeting in Raleigh was incredibly one-sided in the Canes' favor, but the Golden Knights will come into the game very rested, having not played in five days. After concluding their road trip, the team will be back in Raleigh for three games, starting with Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks on Monday.