Two Goals from Skjei Help Make Andersen's Return Special as the Canes Handle the Habs

After missing four months with a blood clotting issue, Andersen makes 24 stops to help the Hurricanes reach 80 points for the season.
Mar 7, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31)
Mar 7, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Carolina Hurricanes were on the ice, they were blowing a three-goal lead in the third period to the Winnipeg Jets. That was on Saturday afternoon. The Canes had four days to erase it, practice, and get ready for the visiting Montreal Canadiens. With plenty going on in the hockey world as the trade deadline looms, there was a lot for the team to focus on.

The buzz coming into the night was the return of Frederik Andersen in the net for the Hurricanes. His last start came back on November 2 at Madison Square Garden. With rumors surrounding the team, Michael Bunting was scratched before the game for trade-related reasons, bringing Brendan Lemieux back into the lineup. Sam Montembeault would get the start for the Canadiens.

While the anticipation around Frederik Andersen's return had PNC Arena excited, the Canadiens came out and struck first. Stefan Noesen failed to get the puck out of the zone, allowing Montreal to earn a good chance. Joshua Roy's shot hit Jalen Chatfield's stick and handcuffed Andersen, getting the Habs on the board less than six minutes into the contest. It wasn't an ideal start for a goalie coming off the shelf after four months.

After Martin Necas and Jesse Ylonen sat for offsetting penalties and Brett Pesce was called for hooking, the Canes found themselves on the wrong side of a 4-on-3 for over a minute. The penalty kill got a little help from the iron, killing the penalties off. This would allow the Hurricanes to find the tying goal. Andrei Svechnikov caught the attention of two Montreal defenders, allowing Brady Skjei to walk down the boards unaccompanied. Skjei's backhand beat Sam Montembeault, turning the momentum in the Canes' favor.

Special teams would be a big part of the final portion of the first period and early in the second. The Canes' power play came up empty on two chances before killing Montreal's second power play with a little more help from the iron. Once things got back to 5-on-5, the chances were coming for both sides. Things nearly went scoreless for 20 minutes, but the Canes finally got one in the final minute. Jalen Chatfield set up a great chance for Jack Drury that was stopped, but Stefan Noesen was there to poke the rebound home with less than 25 seconds left to put the team ahead for the first time.

Down a goal, Montreal came out and got some excellent chances to tie the game. It looked for a second that Joshua Roy had tied the game 25 seconds into the third period, but it was quickly taken off the board for goalie interference. After that, both goalies made some huge stops. Frederik Andersen came up with a glove stop on Josh Anderson before robbing Brendan Gallagher twice with his pad. Not to be outdone, Sam Montembeault made a stop on Seth Jarvis' short-handed breakaway chance to keep the game at 2-1.

After Montreal's early flurry, the Canes took complete control of the period. Despite coming up empty on the power play, they drew another one as Dmitry Orlov was held by Alex Newhook during a nearly two-minute shift in the offensive zone. Almost immediately, Jack Drury took a tripping penalty, setting up 4-on-4 play once again. With the ice a little more open, Brady Skjei snuck his way behind the defense. After receiving a stretch pass from his defensive partner Brett Pesce, Skjei roofed a breakaway into the top of the net to extend the lead with his second goal of the night. An empty-net goal from Andrei Svechnikov would put the Canadiens away for good, helping the Canes erase the sting of Saturday's loss with a 4-1 win over Montreal.

Trying to find a place to start when talking about this game is tough because there is so much to talk about. The obvious starting point is the return and performance of Frederik Andersen. The early goal he allowed had many, myself included, concerned about his rust. We just needed to give him a little time because he shut down the Canadiens from there.

He had his fair share of luck, getting bailed out by his goalposts at least three times, but he earned his bounces. Andersen's stops early in the third period could've changed the perception of the game, but he didn't allow that to happen. The crowd's reaction toward him during his postgame interview told the entire story. Having Frederik Andersen back is a major boost.

The Hurricanes' top line of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov were spectacular again in this one. They combined to finish +6 and picked up four points, led by Svechnikov's two. They spent most of the night against Montreal's top line, and while they had their chances to score, the Aho line picked them apart. Martin Necas was also spectacular. He led all skaters with seven shots, picking up a secondary assist on the Canes' first goal.

The Canes' defense was also a big part of the effort. Along with a perfect 5-for-5 night on the penalty kill, they combined for four points, with Brady Skjei's two goals and assists for Brett Pesce and Jalen Chatfield. Skjei and Pesce have been a little inconsistent at times, but this was one of their best efforts of the season.

The next 72 hours are going to be very intense for the team. First, the trade deadline will pass on Friday at 3 pm, and the Hurricanes already have something big done. Once it passes, the Hurricanes will have a weekend back-to-back to worry about. They'll be in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon to conclude their season series with the Devils, who fired their head coach this week. The team will return home for a Sunday evening battle with the Calgary Flames.