James Reimer turned aside all 41 shots he saw to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to their second straight shutout and a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Whalers Night.
Nino Niederreiter scored the deciding goal in the first period, as the Canes finished off their season-long, seven-game homestand with their third straight victory.
Here are five takeaways from Whalers Night.
1. Finishing Off the Homestand
The Hurricanes' third win in a row and fifth in their last seven games put an exclamation point on the team's longest homestand of the season. The Canes are now 15-8-0 at home this season, another five in a row at PNC Arena coming up after a brief two-game road interlude.
"It's a great way to finish it off," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
The Canes grinded out their homestand finale. They came out with a strong first 20 minutes, and before the game was even five minutes old, they had a 1-0 lead. Though the Kings pushed back in the final 40 minutes of regulation, the Canes, aided by Reimer's brick-wall performance in net, staved off their cross-conference opponent.
Video: LAK@CAR: Hurricanes celebrate Whalers style
"We survived, there's no doubt, the last probably almost two periods. The first period was fine. I thought it was really good," Brind'Amour said. "We came out with good jump, and it looked like we knew what we were doing. We just took our foot off the gas a little. I give their team a lot of credit. They worked really hard."
"When you see more pucks and the key part is they don't go in, you start to get in a rhythm and feel better," Reimer said. "[The Kings] worked hard. We just had that little extra in here tonight. We were able to squeak that one in early and then just grind."
2. Optimus Reim
On Friday night, the chants at PNC Arena were "Petr! Petr!"
On Saturday, "Reim-er! Reim-er!"
With a 41-save performance, Reimer backstopped the Hurricanes to their second consecutive shutout and his third of the season.
"He was absolutely terrific for us tonight. He deserved that one," Niederreiter said. "He definitely won the game for us."
Video: LAK@CAR: Reimer stops all 41 shots faced in 2-0 win
The Canes registered shutouts on back-to-back nights for the second time in franchise history and the first time with two different goaltenders.
"He was obviously the difference," Brind'Amour said. "It's nice to have a couple of games like that where our goalies have been solid, especially tonight. He's the reason we got the win."
Twice Reimer turned away a grade-A opportunity off the stick of Adrian Kempe. In the first period, Reimer went into the splits to make a tremendous left pad stop on Kempe to preserve the Canes' newfound 1-0 lead. In the second, he again turned away Kempe's opportunity right on the doorstep, and the sellout crowd responded with chants of Reimer's name.
"My other starts here haven't been the greatest," Reimer said. "It was nice to have a good performance here at home and have some funs with the fans. They're what makes the game exciting."
3. One-Two Punch
Reimer has three shutouts to his name this season. Petr Mrazek also earned his third shutout on Friday night. The two are the first pair of goaltenders to record at least three shutouts in the same season in franchise history.
That's a one-two punch in net, which is going to be critical to the Hurricanes' continued success in the second half of the season.
"It's the game. If you don't have the goaltending, you're not going to go very far," Brind'Amour said. "Captain obvious that that was the difference, but just in general, you need to have the goaltending and saves at the right time. You've seen that lately."
4. Nino Gets One
Nino Niederreiter needed one.
He had gone eight games without a goal, the frustration visibly evident on Friday night when, after his odd-man rush scoring opportunity was denied, he slammed his stick on the glass, breaking the twig in two.
His stick survived on Saturday.
Sebastian Aho chased down a dump-in along the near wall and laid the puck off on his backhand to Teuvo Teravainen in the slot. Teravainen then one-touched it over to Niederreiter, who had a wide-open net to shoot at. Instead, he gave the puck back to Teravainen, whose shot was stopped by Jack Campbell. But, the rebound was available for the taking, and Niederreiter tapped it in.
Video: LAK@CAR: Niederreiter cleans up Teravainen's rebound
"It was nice the puck came back to me even though I should have shot it first," Niederreiter laughed. "The last two or three games, I definitely had more chances than the last five or six. It's definitely going in the right direction. I just have to stay on it and try to shoot more puck on net."
"He's working so hard. He's a great guy, and he plays the game the right way," Reimer said. "When you're snake bit, you're snake bit. It was good to see him get one tonight. With a guy like that, it was only a matter of time."
"He's had a bunch of opportunities this year, and even the last couple of games. He's been frustrated," Brind'Amour said. "That was nice to see him get on the scoresheet."
5. Make Some Noise
The Canes finished with a 5-2-0 record in their longest homestand of the season, and the crowd support at PNC Arena in that stretch made for a festive atmosphere and helped ring in the new year (and the second half of the season) with exuberance.
Video: James Reimer first star interview.
A sellout crowd of 18,680 was on hand for Whalers Night, marking the Canes' seventh sellout of the season and fourth of the homestand. The Canes averaged 17,755 fans per game during the homestand and are averaging 16,402 fans per game through 23 home games this season, an increase of over 20% from a season ago.
"They're a loud bunch," Reimer said. "They give us a big boost."
The Hurricanes hit the road to close out their four-game, regular-season series against the Washington Capitals on Monday night.