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Recap: Canes Top Canadiens in Shootout on Opening Night

Haula ties game in third, Hamilton & Mrazek shine in shootout

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

One game. One win.

The Carolina Hurricanes opened the 2019-20 season with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena on Thursday night.

Dougie Hamilton tallied the lone goal for the Hurricanes in the shootout, while Petr Mrazek stopped all three shots he faced.

Here are five takeaways from Opening Night.

1. Rediscovering Their Identity

After the Hurricanes took hold of a 2-0 advantage early in the second period, the Canadiens roared back with three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead into the intermission.

Between periods, the Hurricanes realized they needed to rediscover their identity.

"It was pretty clear. It wasn't good enough. I think we all knew it. We just needed a little bit of a spark," Erik Haula said. "We looked like the team we want to be in the third."

"We didn't really play our game for two periods. I give the other team a ton of credit because they were forcing us to do things that's just not how we play," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "In the third period, the guys made a commitment to just get back to doing it how we draw it up."

And that's what made the two-point difference.

"I liked everything in the third for the most part. We had a couple tough shifts, but we just got to our game. That was it," Brind'Amour said. "I don't know if it was shaking up the lines or guys, in between periods, coming to realize that the way we were playing wasn't going to work. I give them a lot of credit for digging in and figuring it out."

2. Haula Back

Erik Haula last played a regular-season NHL game on Nov. 6, 2018 with the Vegas Golden Knights. That night - a game after he recorded a pair of assists against the Hurricanes - Haula played 13 minutes and seven seconds in Toronto before suffering a knee injury that ended his season.

Fast forward 11 months, and Haula is living in a new city and playing for a new team. In his regular-season debut with the Hurricanes, he scored a pivotal goal that equalized the score in the third period.

Seconds after punching a puck through the crease along the goal line and looking up to the rafters in disbelief, Haula had another whack at the puck alongside the net - and this time, he didn't miss.

Video: MTL@CAR: Haula slams in loose puck for go-ahead goal

"I feel like I was a little bit rusty, but the third time was the charm. I had a couple good looks," he said. "It feels good to get on the board right away, and it feels good to get a big win with the new team."

"He works hard. It's nice to see a newcomer contribute right away," Brind'Amour said. "I think that's going to help him feel good about where his game is."

Ryan Dzingel, another one of four skaters to make his regular-season debut with the Canes, tallied the secondary assist on Haula's goal for his first point with his new team.

Haula's goal helped force overtime, the Canes' fourth straight season opener that progressed to extra hockey.

3. A Shootout & A Surge

After a frenzied 3-on-3 overtime, a shootout was required to settle the score on Opening Night.

Hamilton's number was called first. He skated out wide left before cutting back to the middle of the ice, going forehand-backhand a couple times over and then once more to open up Carey Price and sliding the puck through his five-hole.

Video: MTL@CAR: Hamilton slides home only goal of SO

"Obviously he can score, and he's not afraid to make some moves. Tonight, he made a great one," Brind'Amour said. "I didn't think he was going to score. Price had him, I thought, but he made that extra deke to open him up. That's impressive."

Impressive, indeed, but Hamilton was at a loss to explain his thought process.

"I haven't been scoring a lot in practice lately, so I wasn't really sure what to do," he said. "You're going against the best goalie in the world, so I just kind of did whatever and was happy to see it go in."

Just kind of did whatever, eh?

"The brain just shuts off, and that's what happens," he smiled.

"Do it again, then," Brind'Amour laughed.

At the other end of the ice, Mrazek was a perfect three-for-three against the Canadiens' shootout troika of Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Nick Suzuki (Ryan's brother). As passionate as ever, Mrazek pumped his fist and was mobbed by his teammates in celebration of the team's first win of the season.

Video: MTL@CAR: Mrazek ends shootout with poke check

"You don't want to go to the shootout. It's great for fans," Mrazek said. "Two points, a win. First game, first win. I don't know what else we could ask for."

Then, with the Canes lined up along their blue line, Hamilton led the clap at center ice before the team skated down to the far end and leapt into the boards - the original Storm Surge returned.

Video: MTL@CAR: Hurricanes celebrate in front of home crowd

"I love when the crowd is going. I feel like everybody feeds off that," Haula said. "Tying the game, you could feel the crowd, and we could feed off their energy."

4. Necas Converts on the Power Play

Martin Necas is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch as he develops his game in the National Hockey League. He was flying each and every time he touched the puck, and his skillset is going to be an asset for the Hurricanes power play.

Look no further than the team's first man advantage of the season, in which Necas got a stick on a Hamilton one-timer to deflect it past Price to put his team up 2-0.

Video: MTL@CAR: Necas redirects home power-play goal

"He's got a lot of skill. We know that. Captain Obvious," Brind'Amour said. "He's got a lot of talent."

5. Welcome to Wallmark

The Hurricanes' first goal of the 2019-20 season belongs to Lucas Wallmark, who tipped a shot off the stick of Brett Pesce and then tapped in his own rebound to give the Canes a 1-0 lead with two minutes and change left in the first period.

Video: MTL@CAR: Wallmark cleans up juicy rebound in tight

Wallmark has scored three game-opening goals in his career, and last year, the Canes were 8-1-0 when he scored a goal.

"Seeing the fans over the summer and building up to the season and how excited they've been, we know how important it is for our team to have a good start and keep them engaged," Hamilton said. "That's a pretty good way to start."

Up Next

In a rematch of their thrilling First Round series, the Hurricanes face off with the Capitals in their home opener on Saturday in DC.

"The first win is always the hardest one," Mrazek said. "I'm really happy we got one today. The fans were great."

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