COLUMBUS - Backed by 19 saves by Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic, the Carolina Hurricanes got back in the win column with a dominant 3-0 shutout victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
Alex Nedeljkovic earned his first career shutout earlier this season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. That's pretty special.
His second career shutout? It came in the state where he grew up against the team he grew up watching. That's pretty special, too.
"I don't know if you can ever top the first one. The first one only happens once," Nedeljkovic said. "It's special. I had family in the stands tonight, so that was nice for them to be able to see."
Nedeljkovic didn't have too strenuous a workload, as the Canes limited the Blue Jackets to just 19 shots on goal, but he was good when he needed to be, and that's all you can ask. He handles the puck with ease, too, which helps stall out the opposition's forecheck and jumpstarts the Canes moving the puck up the ice.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Nedeljkovic records 19 saves in shutout win
"He's played great. Tonight, again. He didn't get tested too much tonight, which was awesome for us, but when he did, he was really good," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He's definitely putting himself in a good light here."
From Nedeljkovic out, the Canes put forth a dominant performance. The Blue Jackets had just five shots on goal in the first and 12 through two periods. The Canes' penalty kill dispatched three minors. The Canes made plays and were rewarded with two points.
"We were awesome. Top to bottom, start to finish, we were taking it to them," Nedeljkovic said. "You couldn't have drawn it up any better."
Sebastian Aho and Necas connected on another scoring play, and this one is destined for highlight reels.
In transition, Dougie Hamilton laid the puck off at the blue line for Sebastian Aho, who then dropped it off for Necas. Necas one-touched it back to Aho and slid into open ice for the one-touch return and one-time finish, a give-and-go beauty of a goal.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Necas nets Aho feed for give-and-go goal
After practice on Sunday, Skjei was asked what he'd like to improve in the second half of the season.
"I'd love to score," he laughed. "It's been a while. I've had chances. I think it's going come here, hopefully soon."
And he was right. Skjei scored his first goal with the Canes - and first since Feb. 21, 2020, against the Canes, of all teams - a little over nine minutes into the first period.
Aho had the initial shot, a one-timer from the top of the left circle, and the rebound popped out to Skjei at the opposite circle, and he snapped the puck past Joonas Korpisalo.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Skjei nets long Aho rebound to open scoring
Fast's fourth goal of the season doubled the Canes lead in what was a commanding second period performance from the team.
Andrei Svechnikov took a bump along the boards behind the net to help Jordan Staal work it up to the point. Brett Pesce's shot was then redirected by Fast in the slot to put the Canes up 2-0.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Fast redirects Pesce's shot in from the slot
12: With the secondary assist on Necas' goal, Dougie Hamilton extended his point streak to 12 games (2g, 12a), which surpasses Mark Howe and is now the franchise record for the longest point streak by a defenseman.
"It's pretty cool," Hamilton said. "I'm lucky to play with great players who make good plays, like that goal today."
100: Through his first 100 career games in the NHL, Necas has totaled 60 points (23g, 37a).
6-1-1: In his last eight starts, Nedeljkovic is 6-1-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average, a .947 save percentage and two shutouts.
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Quote of the Night
"I think we've played pretty good hockey, but tonight we played a complete 60-minute hockey game. We were on the right side, working hard and doing the right things. It was a really good game from all of us." - Jesper Fast
The four-game series finale is slated for Thursday, leaving the Canes with some time to breathe and enjoy the victory for a night or two.
"We'll definitely enjoy a little bit of a break and then get right back at it," Hamilton said.