The Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to five games with a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Sunday evening in Raleigh.
Sebastian Aho's shorthanded goal in the third period proved to be the game winner, while Vincent Trocheck scored against his former team for the fourth time in as many games this season.
"It was a good effort all the way. We didn't really have any lulls in the game. There wasn't a lot going on for large stretches, but it was because there was no room," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I like the fact that we hung in there, didn't get frustrated and just kept playing. Then, we made some big plays when we had to."
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
Trocheck loves scoring against his former team.
"I think it's just luck of the draw on that one," Trocheck shrugged. "Obviously it's nice to get one against the former team, but there's motivation every night, so I don't think it's any different."
Eight seconds into the Canes' second power play of the game, Trocheck struck to open the scoring on just the Canes' second shot of the evening. Like most early power-play goal sequences begin, this started with a faceoff win by Jordan Staal in the offensive zone. Trocheck helped the puck back to Aho, who then dropped it off for Dougie Hamilton at the point. Hamilton walked the blue line toward the middle of the ice and swung the puck over to Andrei Svechnikov on the near side. Svechnikov stepped up with the puck, but instead of firing off a wrist shot, he dished down low to Trocheck, who accepted the pass, turned towards the net and fired a shot in far side past Chris Driedger.
Video: FLA@CAR: Trocheck puts home opening PPG
The goal was Trocheck's team-leading 13th of the season and fourth in as many games against the Panthers, and he now has points in five straight games (4g, 2a).
"He's got a lot of confidence. He's a good player, you know?" Brind'Amour said. "I think he's found a home. When you feel really good - it's no different than any job - when you're feeling good about yourself and where you fit, you have success."
Though the Canes began the third period shorthanded, it took them just 38 seconds to restore a two-goal advantage. From behind his own goal line, Jaccob Slavin head faked as if he was going to simply clear the puck down the ice. Instead, he put a stretch pass on the tape of Jordan Martinook, springing a 2-on-1 rush. Martinook fed Aho, who beat Driedger to his blocker side with a wrist shot.
Video: FLA@CAR: Aho buries SHG on the feed from Martinook
"Great heads-up play by Slavo, and Marty, that was a nice pass on his backhand," Aho said. "That shows how good of a player Slavo is."
The goal was the Canes' second shorthanded marker of the season and the 10th of Aho's career, which equals Brind'Amour for third-most in franchise history.
Nino Niederreiter & Warren Foegele
It's really fun watching Martin Necas put the pedal down as he motors through the neutral zone. He revved it up in the second period and attracted a swell of Panthers' defensemen as he crossed the blue line. That opened up space for Niederreiter on the left wing, and he wristed his 11th goal of the season glove side on Driedger.
Video: FLA@CAR: Niederreiter buries a wrister past Driedger
Just about two minutes after Aho scored shorthanded to put the Canes up 3-1 in the third period, Foegele stretched his team's lead to three goals when he shrugged off Alex Wennberg on a breakaway to sneak a five-hole goal through Driedger.
Video: FLA@CAR: Foegele goes five-hole on Driedger
Plus: James Reimer
Reimer made 21 saves to improve to 3-0-0 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in three games against his old team. Between him and Trocheck, there must be something to that, huh?
Of Reimer's 21 saves, perhaps none was bigger than his patient pad stop on Jonathan Huberdeau in the waning seconds of the second period. The puck hopped over Brady Skjei's stick on the choppy ice, leaving Huberdeau all alone in front. Reimer's stop preserved his team's 2-1 lead heading into the intermission, a momentum-saver for the Canes.
In the third period, Reimer came up big again on former Hurricane Gustav Forsling, as Reimer flashed the leather on the defenseman who snuck in undetected from the point.
Video: FLA@CAR: Reimer flashes the leather on Forsling
Minus: Teuvo Teravainen
Teravainen returned to action on Thursday after missing the previous seven games with a concussion, but on Friday, he experienced concussion-like symptoms. Out of caution, the Canes held him out of the lineup on Sunday.
"We always err on caution," Brind'Amour said.
1: Since the NHL began tracking trades in 1991-92, Trocheck is the first player to score in his first four games against his former team.
5: Hamilton recorded the secondary helper on Trocheck's goal to extend his assist streak to five games, the longest by a Canes player this season. Hamilton leads the team in both assists (16) and power-play assists (10).
895:20: Before his delay-of-game minor in the second period, Slavin had not been assessed a penalty in his last 895:20 of ice time, dating back to Feb. 2, 2020.
Sunday Night Slam?
Emotions boiled over late in regulation, and Reimer looked ready to be tagged in.
"Every game means so much," Foegele said. "You could see at the end, the emotions are up. That's part of the reason you love the game, playing with some emotion and fire. It's nice to see the guys stick up for each other out there."
Quote of the Night
"We have a really good team." - Vincent Trocheck
The Canes host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and Thursday to round out their four-game homestand.