TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - As defending champions in the NHL Prospects Tournament, the Carolina Hurricanes know how vital it is to start quickly and notch an early victory.
Through an opportunistic first two periods followed up by a dominant third, the Canes did just that on Friday night in a 6-2 win over the host Detroit Red Wings.
"We turned the puck over a little bit too much in the first two periods, but finally in the third period we decided to protect it a little bit better and be stronger on it," head coach Mike Vellucci said. "I thought we played really well from an offensive standpoint. There is a lot of skill and speed, and we made some really nice plays."
Video: Traverse City Tournament: CAR vs. DET Highlights
Goaltender Callum Booth posted 34 saves, 16 of which came in the first period alone.
"It was definitely fun. I think the team did a great job of letting me see it," Booth said. "It's great starting the tournament with a win, and hopefully we can continue that through the next couple of games."
"We have to thank him for holding us in there for two periods, especially early on in the first period when we were a little scrambly," Vellucci said. "He played really well."
Video: Mike Vellucci: "It's a benefit to have skill"
"I thought we had a bit of a slow start," said defenseman Jake Bean, who tallied a pair of assists. "Boother helped us out at the start, and credit to him because he had a really good game."
Despite the slow start, the Hurricanes still skated to the locker room with a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Officially credited with just four shots on goal, the Canes were an opportunistic bunch.
On their first power play opportunity of the game, Bean slid the puck over to Janne Kuokkanen for the one-time blast that opened the scoring.
"We've got five good players on that unit," Bean said. "Kuokks is a really talented player. That was a good goal."
Video: Jake Bean: "We started to figure things out"
Later, Martin Necas and Nick Schilkey played a game of back-and-forth on a 2-on-1 before Necas finished off the rush with the Canes' second goal.
Detroit's Dominik Shine netted two second-period goals - one of which he gloved and then batted the puck out of mid-air and in - to tie the score, as the Hurricanes regularly found themselves hemmed in. But, they continued to be opportunistic. With not much going offensively, Nicolas Roy made a steal in the neutral zone, skated in alone and went forehand-backhand-twine to put the Hurricanes back on top, 3-2.
"He made a strong play in the neutral zone, and he was strong on the puck," Vellucci said of Roy's goal. "When you have skill, it's a good thing to have because when the game is close you can make a nice play real quick. You only need one scoring chance."
The Canes capped their first game of the tournament with a dominant 20 minutes that started with strong plays on the puck.
"I think we started to figure things out in the third," Bean said. "We were a bit more responsible with the puck and guys started to click a bit more."
"We talked about protecting the puck and using the boards," Vellucci said. "If we were being soft on it, we were going to be in our own end all night."
The Canes regained their two-goal lead when Warren Foegele cashed in on a rebound from a Bean point shot. Julien Gauthier banged home a pass from Kuokkanen to make it 5-2, and Schilkey took a feed from Necas to find the empty net to seal the 6-2 win.
"It was a pretty good match," Necas said. "The third period from us was good."
"It was a huge game-changer the way we came out in the third and played simpler hockey," Booth said. "We were able to outwork them, and it brought us the W."
Video: Callum Booth: "I can't complain"
It's a quick turnaround for the Hurricanes, who get back at it on Saturday afternoon with a 3:30 p.m. tilt against the New York Rangers.
"We have to play like we did in the third period tomorrow," Necas said.
"Get some rest, make sure we get a lot of water and have a good stretch in the morning to come out ready," Vellucci said.
2017 NHL Prospects Tournament
|DATE ||VISITOR ||HOME ||TIME (ET) / RESULT |
|Friday, Sept. 8 ||Hurricanes ||Red Wings ||6-2 |
|Saturday, Sept. 9 ||Rangers ||Hurricanes ||3:30 p.m. |
|Monday, Sept. 11 ||Blackhawks ||Hurricanes ||6:30 p.m. |
|Tuesday, Sept. 12 ||TBD ||TBD ||TBD |