EDMONTON - The Carolina Hurricanes' offense exploded for six goals in a 6-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers in the first of two match-ups between the teams this week.
Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen each scored two goals for the Canes, who remain perfect on the road in the preseason, and Janne Kuokkanen had a three-point night (1g, 2a).
Here are five takeaways from tonight's match.
It's still just the preseason, yes, but it's hard not to be excited about what the Hurricanes have accomplished thus far.
Tonight was perhaps the team's biggest test so far, facing an NHL-caliber Oilers lineup, and the Canes looked to be in midseason form.
"It's never a bad thing winning. It's a lot of good things that we've tried to build on," Staal said. "It's always been the process with these games, and the process has been really good and we're getting results. Those are all good things that you want to see."
One thing noticeable about the Hurricanes tonight was their speed. It's no secret that this team is built on quickness; Noah Hanifin told me this morning that a big part of the team identity is speed. But tonight, especially in the first period, these Canes were flying.
About that first period: it was probably the best 20 minutes we've seen from the Canes this preseason. They were hungry on pucks, quick in all areas of the ice and sturdy in the defensive zone save for one lapse that resulted in one of the two Oilers' goals.
"I liked our start. I liked the way we were able to roll four lines," head coach Bill Peters said. "Our D were moving the puck and gave us the ability to play fast."
Teravainen scored each of the Canes' goals in the first period, and both were power-play tallies. On an early 5-on-3 advantage, Teravainen accepted a pass from Justin Faulk, who held the far blue line nicely, walked in and fired the puck past Cam Talbot.
Late in the period, Teravainen cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Staal in the slot to put the Canes back on top, 2-1.
That goal was especially big, as it came after Ryan Strome evened the score despite the Hurricanes dominating the flow of play.
"I thought we did a great job responding with another power-play goal quick to kind of nullify that," Staal said. "Then we continued to build a game."
For the Hurricanes to be a playoff team in the 2017-18 season, they are going to have to consistently score more goals. Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho figure squarely into that. Justin Williams will likely finish around the 20-goal mark.
And then there's Teuvo Teravainen, who scored a career-high 15 goals last season. Coming into year two with the Hurricanes, he could be one to spark the Canes' offense on a nightly basis - he certainly has the skill to do so and become a 20-goal scorer.
"You've got to learn a new system. New city, new surroundings," Peters said of Teravainen's adjustment last season. "He'll be much more comfortable this year. He's gotten off to a good start in training camp. We've added to our overall skill, and he's a skilled guy. When you have skilled guys playing with skilled guys, you're able to do a few things."
Scott Darling made his long-awaited Hurricanes debut in net tonight and he didn't have much work through the first 20 minutes. The Canes held a 10-1 shot advantage through the first 10 minutes and allowed just four shots in the frame.
"I was waiting for that first shot," Darling said. "It's nerve-racking your first game, but the guys were playing great. They were winning every battle."
While Darling stood tall in the crease - literally, the man is large and towering - during the first, what did he see in front of him?
"They were positionally great," Darling said. "Skating so hard, picking off passes, stripping guys, doing everything perfect. It's hard for the other team to play offense when your team is doing that."
Darling finished the night with 19 saves on 21 shots. He is expected to return to the net on Friday in the team's preseason finale against Washington.
"The big man in net played well and made some key saves when it was still close," Staal said.
"He was good. Could have had a box-out on the first one and the second one was a good tip up high by their man in the middle there, so I don't think he had much chance on either of those," Peters said. "He made some big saves. He's going to be good for us. We're excited about our goaltending."
"It feels great. I've been looking to this for a long time," Darling said of his first start. "I had the butterflies in the stomach beforehand, but I'm thrilled to get it out of the way and move forward. New team, new season, keep it rolling."
The young talent on this team is quite impressive. There's organizational depth, and it's incredibly skilled. Martin Necas was flying around the ice again tonight. Kuokkanen scored a power-play goal - a quick snipe from the slot off a pass from Justin Williams - and registered two primary assists on Staal's goals. Lucas Wallmark tallied a shorthanded goal in the second period.
These last 10 roster cuts aren't going to be easy.
"Good, young players. Great hands and great skill. It makes it fun. They're excited to be here playing these games," Staal said. "It's something that brings you back to the memories of yourself going through that, too. It's really cool."
The Hurricanes will take on the Oilers again on Wednesday night in Saskatoon.