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Recap: Canes Come Up Big in Third to Top Panthers

Canes score four unanswered goals in third to win 5-2

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Trailing by one heading into the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals to power past the Florida Panthers, 5-2.

Jordan Staal scored a pair of goals, Vincent Trocheck posted a goal and an assist against his former team and Sebastian Aho recorded a trio of assists in the Canes' comeback win.

"We weren't at our best, but our big guys got going there at the end," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We had key moments. It wasn't a dominant game by any means, but in key moments, they made the difference, really."


The Difference

Jordan Staal is approaching his 1,000th career NHL game in what's been a productive season for the Canes' captain. He had gone 12 games without a goal, but in lucky No. 13, Staal scored two big ones - the game-winning goal and an empty-net tally to seal the victory.

Nearly nine minutes deep in a third period with the score even at two, Staal streaked down the near wing and fired a wrist shot that leaked through Sergei Bobrovsky. Radko Gudas saved the puck from crossing the goal line, until Owen Tippett crashed his own net and knocked the puck in.

Video: FLA@CAR: Staal nets unassisted go-ahead goal off rush

"I'm trying to shoot as hard as I can. I wouldn't say my shot is one of the heavier ones. I always ask Svechy to teach me how to shoot," Staal joked. "I saw my big bro do it the other night coming down the wing. He had a quick wrister. I tried to do the same thing, and I was fortunate it went in."

With 100 seconds left in regulation, Staal shrugged off two defending sticks to find the empty net and give his team a 4-2 advantage. Jesper Fast joined in on the empty-net fun not too long later.

Video: FLA@CAR: Staal scores second of game into empty net

"You know what you're getting out of Jordo every night," Trocheck said. "He's coming to play. He's bringing his work boots. He just leads by example out there. He's the epitome of a captain."

Fist Bumps

Vincent Trocheck

Trocheck's former team can't stop him.

Trocheck has scored a goal in each of the five games against the Panthers this season, and tonight he recorded two power-play points.

A missed call robbed the Canes of the game-tying goal on the power play in the second period (more on that later), but Trocheck got one anyway on a man advantage with less than two minutes to play in the period.

As the Canes worked the puck around the perimeter, Dougie Hamilton fished it off the near wall and swung it over to Andrei Svechnikov. The puck then went down to Sebastian Aho, who tried to center it to Trocheck in the slot. The puck deflected up and off Trocheck's stick as he knifed it past Bobrovsky to tie the game at one - a goal that stood even after Toronto reviewed it to confirm it was legally knocked into the net.

Video: FLA@CAR: Trocheck deposits puck in for PPG in close

"I don't think there's any secret. It's just luck of the draw, I guess," Trocheck shrugged. "I've gotten some greasy ones against them this year."

The official scorers awarded Trocheck with a second power-play goal in the first minute of the third period, but the team seemed pretty adamant on the ice that it was Hamilton's goal. Sure enough, the scoring change was made after the game, and Trocheck was given the primary assist on the tally.

Trocheck has now tallied a least a point in each of his last 11 games played (6g, 9a). He ranks tied for the team lead in goals (15) and is tied for second on the team in points (31).

Power Play

After just one power play in each of their last four games, the Canes went 2-for-4 on the man advantage with two critical game-tying goals. Trocheck had the first late in the second period to tie the game, through Aleksander Barkov quickly answered with his second of the game shortly after to put the Panthers ahead 2-1 heading into the intermission.

The Canes had almost 80 seconds of power play time to begin the third period, and they wanted to make it count.

"These guys know they're never out of a game, and that's what I love about them," Brind'Amour said. "You go up and down our lineup, everybody plays hard."

"The mindset was to get some momentum and get some shots. Hopefully we score on the power play and tie the game, and we did," Aho said. "That gave us a lot of confidence and momentum, and we took off. It was a solid, solid period for us."

Dougie Hamilton's wrist shot from the point had eyes through traffic and the reaching sticks of Trocheck and Staal to beat Bobrovsky and tie the game at two.

Video: FLA@CAR: Trocheck deflects home second PPG of game

"We got a few looks tonight," Brind'Amour said. "We were able to get a couple, and that was the difference in the game."

Petr Mrazek

Lost in the four goals that the Canes scored in the third period was the stout play of Mrazek in net. The Canes' netminder followed up a 28-save shutout in his return to the crease with a 34-save performance, which earned him the third star of the game.

Mrazek helped keep the Canes within striking distance for two periods, and when the game was on the line in the third period, he came up with his best work. Shortly after Hamilton tied the game at two on the power play, Mrazek turned aside Mason Marchment, who snuck in behind the Canes' defense, and then Noel Acciari not just once on his initial breakaway but then again on the rebound.

"I thought Florida was really good. They were on it. We had moments. Our goalie needs to be talked about. That was the difference in the game, no question," Brind'Amour said. "There was a stretch where the game could have gone sideways, and he held us in there."

Mrazek is now 4-1-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage and three shutouts this season.

Stats Pack

5: Coming into tonight, the Canes were 0-4-0 when trailing heading into the third period, but for the first time in five tries this season, they were able to erase a deficit in the final frame and get the win.

135:50: Having now allowed a goal since the 17:18 mark of the third period on Jan. 16 in Detroit, Mrazek's posted a shutout streak of 135:50, the second-longest of his NHL career.

29.8%: The Canes still own the league's top power play with a 29.8% conversion rate (34-for-114).

Tough Bounce of the Night

The Canes thought they had tied the game at one with about five-and-a-half minutes left to play in the second period. And they should have.

A scramble at the top of the crease led to Nino Niederreiter popping the puck free (legally!) and Aho sweeping it in. Referee Wes McCauley, who was positioned behind the net, lost sight of the puck as it appeared that Bobrovsky had it covered. A side-angle replay revealed that the puck was never covered, but McCauley's whistle blew the play dead before the puck went in the net, and that was that.

Trocheck tied the game on another power play about four minutes later. Puck don't lie?

Quote of the Night

"We have a lot of individuals who are very competitive and hate to lose. It might not always be pretty or perfect but we're going to find a way to compete as hard as we can and continue to try to find ways to win games." - Jordan Staal

Up Next

Game two of two between the Panthers and Canes is slated for Thursday night at PNC Arena.

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