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Recap: Canes Hold Lead, Top Flames 4-2

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Analysis from Calgary

→ For the third time in four games this season, the Carolina Hurricanes grabbed a three-goal lead, the second time that advantage was a 3-0 score.

And for the first time this season, the Hurricanes held on to that lead and came away with two points, holding off the Calgary Flames, 4-2.

Third time's a charm, right?

"I thought we were better. Obviously we're going to get better as the season goes along," head coach Bill Peters said. "I was happy with the start and happy with the game overall."

"We haven't really had our luck with three-goal leads so far this year, so I'm really, really happy to get it done there at the end," said Eddie Lack, who made 24 saves. "It's a good feeling."

Video: Hurricanes edge Flames 4-2 for first win of season

→ The Hurricanes got offensive contributions up and down their lineup and were able to stretch the lead to 4-2 late on the power play.

"We were rolling four lines all the way through the end of the game," Jeff Skinner said. "It's a good feeling when everyone can contribute like that."

The fun began nearly eight minutes into the first period. Sebastian Aho rushed the puck up the ice, curled back in the offensive zone and threw it over to Noah Hanifin. The sophomore defender then threaded the needle to Teuvo Teravainen, who was crashing the net, and Teravainen's second effort willed the puck in, his second tally as a Hurricane.

"This is Aho's fourth game in the National Hockey League, and he made a hell of a play on the first goal. He pulled up, delayed, and Noah was in the rush," Peters said.

"We had a great rush out there. I just tried to go forward to the net," Teravainen said. "Aho made a good play to Noah, and he made an even better play to me. I just shot it, and it didn't go in the net right away but I found the rebound and put it in."

Carolina then extended their lead when Victor Rask scored his third of the season at the very tail end of a 5-on-3 advantage.

Making it 3-0 in the second period was the play of two guys who were healthy scratches two nights ago in Edmonton. Klas Dahlbeck made a stretch pass through the neutral zone to Viktor Stalberg, who broke in uncontested and finished for his first goal with the Canes. That ended up being the difference in tonight's contest, and Stalberg was rewarded with new postgame hardware: an ax that reads, "Chop wood, carry water."

"He was real good tonight," Peters said of Stalberg. "His speed was prevalent tonight. He was real good on the penalty kill. It was obviously his best game as a Carolina Hurricane."

→ As has been the case in the first week of the season, things got interesting for the Hurricanes after they snagged their three-goal advantage. Calgary made it a 3-1 game in the second period when Troy Brouwer walked in and roofed a shot following a Canes' turnover just beyond the blue line. Then, after the Hurricanes failed to convert on a power-play opportunity and stretch their lead, it became a 3-2 game when Johnny Gaudreau broke in with speed and beat Lack in front.

"It's just part of the process of learning how to win and close out games. They got one late in the second, and you don't really want to give those up. Then they get one there to make it 3-2," Skinner said. "You just have to keep your composure and stay tough mentally. We had some big plays by guys in key moments, and we were able to keep our composure and get the job done. It's a good feeling."

So, how was tonight's third period different than the third periods of the first two games?

"I kind of felt a different mentality. We stuck to it," Lack said. "No one panicked. We were poised on the bench and on the ice. Calm, cool and collected."

"We've been struggling a little bit with leads, but tonight we maybe learned from our mistakes in past games and got a huge win," Teravainen said. "We were a little calmer. We knew we didn't want to miss this chance again. We wanted to win."

"Probably more poise and confidence in each other and in the system. I thought guys did a real good job staying poised," Peters said. "It comes with being familiar with each other and trusting each other. I thought we got real good contributions throughout the lineup."

→ The Hurricanes' penalty kill continued to be perhaps the most consistent facet of the Canes' game. The man disadvantage was a perfect 6-for-6 tonight, and they are 15-for-16 through the first four games of the season.

The penalty kill was called upon early and came up huge, as the Canes killed off six minutes worth of penalties in just over six minutes' time.

"Our penalty kill has been good for three years now, knock on wood," Peters said. "They take a lot of pride in it. The team within the team does a good job. You need a save when you do break down, and we got those tonight."

→ Some miscellaneous notes: Noah Hanifin had his best game of the season. He was dynamic with the puck, and he tallied three assists.

"He's going to be a star," Peters said. "People forget how young he is. He's a 19-year-old kind, and he's got great experience. … He's just coming. He skates well, he sees the ice and he's got a lot of hockey sense. We're real happy with him."

Tonight's win snapped a seven-game winless streak in Calgary for the Hurricanes, who had not won at the Saddledome since December of 2002.

→ That does it for Western Canada. From here, the Hurricanes will head to Philadelphia, where they face off with the Flyers on Saturday. Then it's home to Raleigh for a brief layover before the team heads back out to Detroit for the final game in this six-game segment.

"I think we've got a lot of confidence," Teravainen said. "We can build on this and get some momentum going. It's always more fun to win."

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