The Carolina Hurricanes returned home from a four-game road trip and scored a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Valentine's Day.
Andrei Svechnikov finished a highlight-reel play for what would be the game-winning goal, while Nino Niederreiter recorded two points (1g, 1a) in his first-star performance.
Here are five takeaways from Friday night in Raleigh.
1. Home Sweet Home
Sitting just outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture following a road trip in which some concerning trends manifested, the Hurricanes were cognizant of the importance of establishing their game at home against a divisional opponent.
The main points of emphasis: Get everyone to dig in and come out with a better start in order to play with the lead.
Check and check.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Niederreiter said. "We have 25 games left in the season, and we have to do whatever it takes to get there and make the playoffs."
"We're in the final stretch here," Brett Pesce said. "We've got to put together a bunch of wins, and that's the start we needed."
The Canes last scored the first goal of the game on Jan. 21. Since then, the team posted a 3-3-0 record when surrendering the first goal.
But, how's this? With their victory tonight, the Canes improved to 23-3-1 this season when scoring first.
After the Canes killed off an early penalty, Niederreiter let go of a bomb from the point for his eighth goal of the season, giving the Canes a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Video: NJD@CAR: Niederreiter buries heavy slap shot
"We could get to our game and not chase the game," Pesce said. "It was a good feeling. The boys responded well from that."
"It was a better game for us," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We came up big at the right times."
2. Save the Tape
The Hurricanes' top line of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen was buzzing, a dominant trio all night, and it culminated when they connected for a highlight-reel goal in the second period.
Svechnikov laid the puck off for Aho along the far wall. Aho whipped the puck across the ice to Teravainen, who one-touched it to Svechnikov for the backdoor tap-in. Tic-tac-goal, a thing of beauty.
Video: NJD@CAR: Svechnikov finishes off Teravainen's pass
With the assist, Aho extended his point streak to a season-long eight games (7g, 5a). Svechnikov is currently riding a six-game point streak (3g, 5a).
"We know the Aho line - it seems to be going pretty good," Brind'Amour smiled. "They made a couple nice plays."
Yep, but perhaps more importantly …
3. Getting Everyone Involved
… the Hurricanes got contributions up and down their lineup.
Niederreiter finished the night with a goal and an assist and could have perhaps had a second goal, had a Devils' defenseman not swept the puck into his own net. Instead, that tally went to Martin Necas, his 15th of the season. Among all NHL rookies, Necas ranks fourth in goals, seventh in assists (16) and sixth in points (31).
Video: NJD@CAR: Necas credited with goal after deflection
"I thought Nino, that line was pretty effective all night," Brind'Amour said. "We need that."
Warren Foegele put the Canes back on top in the first period when he corralled a loose puck in the slot off an offensive zone faceoff win and beat Louis Domingue with a quick shot.
Video: NJD@CAR: Foegele puts home wrist shot in the slot
In the third period, Joel Edmundson, straight out of the box, took a stretch pass from Niederreiter and skated in alone. Domingue denied Edmundson's initial shot, but the Canes' defenseman popped in his own rebound.
Video: NJD@CAR: Edmundson cleans up own rebound
That's getting everyone involved.
"Willy might need to watch out in the shootouts," joked Pesce, who finished the night with a pair of assists and a game-high plus-4 rating.
4. Happy Birthday!
Birthday boy Petr Mrazek presented a gift of a performance in net. He finished with 35 saves on 37 shots, none better than his sequence in the third period when he made a series of acrobatic saves and got some help from Edmundson's hand-eye coordination on the goal line. That hat trick of saves brought the crowd to its feet.
Video: NJD@CAR: Mrazek robs Hughes, Simmonds in the 3rd
"It's just a confidence booster. It's just that trust factor," Pesce said of his goaltender's performance. "He was awesome tonight. He really kind of kept us int here for a bit when they were pressuring hard. Awesome game by him."
"When we needed the saves, that's the difference in the game, I think," Brind'Amour said. "They had a lot of chances, and Petr was a wall back there for us."
5. Dougie Wheels In
Dougie Hamilton missed his 10th game after having surgery to repair a broken leg, but that didn't keep him from jumping in on the action.
Hamilton wheeled in and cranked the Canes warning siren prior to the team taking the ice, a delightful surprise for the ninth sellout crowd of the season at PNC Arena. Hamilton pumped up the fans and gave a thumbs up before wheeling away.
"It's awesome to see him … rolling around on that scooter," Pesce smiled. "It got the crowd going and got us going."
It was good to see No. 19 in sweater again, even if he wasn't suiting up to play.
"It's good to see him around. I hate it for him, this injury. I've been there," Brind'Amour said. "It's great to see him around. We miss him. It's obvious."
The Edmonton Oilers make their only appearance of the season in Raleigh on Sunday afternoon.