After a four-day break, the Carolina Hurricanes finally returned to the ice against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. It had been a long wait for the Canes after they had their five-game winning streak snapped by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in a 2-1 shootout loss. However, the point streak lived on as they looked to get a measure of revenge on the Ducks.
Jesper Fast returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury he sustained in Toronto. He took Vasily Ponomarev's spot, who was sent back to the AHL after a magical weekend. In the net, the Hurricanes turned to Pyotr Kochetkov to keep the hot streak going. The Ducks would be without puck magician Trevor Zegras and rookie Pavel Mintyukov, who both sustained injuries in their win over Nashville on Tuesday.
This game could've gotten ugly early if not for Anaheim starter John Gibson. Michael Bunting had one kicked off the goal line by Gibson's pad on the first shift of the game as the Canes assaulted the Ducks' net in the first period. He made an equally impressive stop on Seth Jarvis during the Canes' power play. The Ducks were unable to generate any offense, failing to get a shot until 15:29 into the period.
With a goalie stopping everything in sight, you knew it was going to take something special to beat him. Enter the Staal line. Jordan Martinook, playing in his 600th game, dumped the puck into the zone for Jordan Staal to get. Staal dropped it back to Seth Jarvis, who wasted little time finding Brady Skjei as he jumped into the play. With John Gibson overcommitted to Jarvis, Skjei had an open net to fire the puck into as the Canes opened the scoring. It took 15 seconds for them to find another one. Teuvo Teravainen made a spinning pass to Sebastian Aho, who went cross-crease to find Andrei Svechnikov for an easy one-timer. After being stymied for 16 minutes, the Canes broke it open, leading 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The Ducks didn't go down quietly. They needed 25 seconds to get on the board in the second period as Isac Lundestrom buried a loose puck at the front of the net. The Canes' response was swift as the Staal line took control again. Jordan Martinook made a great play in the defensive zone to come out with the puck. He got it over to Seth Jarvis before sprinting up the ice to receive a pass and bury a partial breakaway to restore the two-goal lead. It was a three-zone play from Martinook, and he was rewarded in this milestone game.
Anaheim just wouldn't go away. They struck twice 47 seconds apart to knot the game despite the wide disparity in shots. First, Ryan Strome showed excellent hand-eye coordination to legally bat a puck out of mid-air. Then, Frank Vatrano buried his 20th of the season on the power play to even things up. To make matters worse, Pyotr Kochetkov left the game with just over six minutes left in the period after Dmitry Orlov shoved Isac Lundestrom into him. The fans in the arena wanted a call, but it was clear that Lundestrom was trying to avoid contact before being shoved.
This unfortunate incident seemed to galvanize the group. After Antti Raanta took his spot in the net, Stefan Noesen scored 34 seconds later to give the Canes another lead. Michael Bunting did an excellent job of shielding the defenders from the puck, finding Noesen, and allowing him to push the puck through the little bit of daylight he was given. There was a spirited exchange between Brendan Lemieux and Sam Carrick after Carrick laid a tough hit on Jack Drury. Carrick would be assessed a boarding penalty along with his fighting major, and Drury would get the marker on the power play to re-establish the two-goal cushion going into the third period.
Coming out of the intermission, Lukas Dostal was in the net for the Ducks as John Gibson exited the game with an upper-body injury. The period went without too many fireworks. Seth Jarvis redirected a shot from the point into the net to help the Canes extend the lead. The penalty kill went 3-for-3 in the final 20 minutes, and the team only allowed three shots as the Hurricanes got back on the winning side of things, taking down the Ducks 6-3.
The obvious concern following this win is the health of Pyotr Kochetkov. He's been phenomenal over the last month, so a long-term injury would be devastating. It's too early to speculate the severity of it, but the obvious hope is that he'll be good to go soon. He wasn't tasked with much in this game, and while three goals allowed on 13 shots won't look great, it doesn't tell the entire story.
It wasn't the prettiest game from the Canes. They took three offensive-zone penalties, though none of them resulted in goals. They took their foot off the gas in the second period to allow the Ducks back into the game. Otherwise, this was a solid effort from the home side. Having a long layoff in the middle of the season is less than ideal, but they came out of the gates firing.
The Staal line was firing on all cylinders. All three forwards found the scoresheet, with All-Star hopeful Seth Jarvis picking up three points. Three of the four lines scored at even-strength, while fourth-liner Jack Drury scored on the power play. The SAT line combined for a beauty. The penalty kill went 4-for-5, killing four straight after allowing the goal to Frank Vatrano.
The Canes will be back at it on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins for their third meeting of the season. Then, they'll play a rare weekday afternoon game on Monday as they enshrine Justin Williams into the Hurricanes Hall of Fame against the Los Angeles Kings.