1. Welcome to the Show
Morgan Geekie didn't have much time to process what was happening.
Maybe it was better that way.
"You go out there and play the game you're used to playing," he said. "I just tried to go out there, keep things simple, adjust to the speed of the game and play hard."
Geekie learned of his first NHL recall from Charlotte Checkers head coach Ryan Warsofsky on Saturday. He figured he was going to the coach's office to work through some pregame video. He left the office phoning his family, sharing the good news.
He hopped on a flight out of Charlotte at 8 p.m. Saturday and landed in Pittsburgh later that night, the Canes having already arrived from Long Island earlier in the evening.
"It was kind of a whirlwind like that," Geekie said. "Came to the rink, and the show happened."
And what a show it was.
"How about him, right?" Justin Williams said. "I talked to him before the game. I said, 'You ready?' He said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'You nervous?' He said, 'Maybe a little bit.' I said, 'Perfect, just do your thing.' He certainly did it."
2. Geek Squad
"I don't want to say anything," Jordan Martinook smiled at Morgan Geekie in the hallway before warm-ups, "but I have been a part of a few first goals. Just sayin'."
Is Martinook psychic?
"We'll chalk it up to that, for sure," Geekie laughed.
Geekie finished the afternoon with a pair of goals and an assist. He joins Brad DeFauw (March 10, 2003) as the only players in franchise history to net two goals in their debuts and Dan Bourbonnais (Dec. 30, 1981) as the only players in franchise history to record three points in their debuts.
"I tried to take everything in that I could. The guys were great. Everyone was on my side and welcoming me in with open arms," Geekie said. "I can't thank the guys and coaching staff enough. Kudos to them. I'll just try to keep things going."
On his third shift in the NHL, Geekie netted his first NHL goal. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Geekie cut across the slot and tuned his blade to redirect a feed from Jake Gardiner past Tristan Jarry, tying the score at one.
Video: CAR@PIT: Geekie nets redirection in NHL debut
"It was a great pass by Gards. I was at the right spot at the right time," Geekie said. "He made a great play to me. It just kind of hit my stick and went in. It was kind of surreal like that."
Nino Niederreiter made sure to scoop up the puck from the goal, and after the game, Craig Geekie handed his son that very puck.
"It was awesome. I can't thank them enough for fitting me in their schedule," Geekie said of his family being in the stands. "It's one of those things that will last forever. I'm glad they could be here for it."
"Special moment. I'm just really happy for him. It's one of those memories he'll have forever," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "His family was here, and they were all going crazy. That's what it's all about."
In the second period, Geekie won another offensive zone draw back to Jaccob Slavin, who walked with the puck and wristed a shot that snuck through Jarry. And who was parked at the front of the net? Geekie, who nearly even got his stick on the shot.
Video: CAR@PIT: Slavin sails one home off the draw
Late in the second, Geekie was once again at the front of the net providing a screen for Gardiner's point shot that smoked past Jarry on the power play.
"He's got some grit to him. He knows how to play, and he's not afraid. I like that he had the courage to make plays. He wasn't just throwing pucks around," Brind'Amour said. "It was an excellent contribution."
Just how much of a factor was Geekie? The Canes scored on three of Geekie's first eight shifts in the NHL.
In the third period, Geekie spun at the front of the net and pounded in a loose puck for his second of the day. The Cane had a commanding lead, and that was the cherry on top of his Sunday sundae.
Video: CAR@PIT: Geekie scores in 3rd period
He finished the afternoon with two goals on two shots, an assist, a plus-3 rating, a hit and four blocked shots in 10:22 of ice time.
That's a game Brind'Amour will smile about.
"He came in and said, 'Play your game. Keep it simple. Play hard. Play fast.' That's kind of his motto," Geekie said of the head coach's pregame message. "I have a lot of respect for Rod. He's a great coach and was a great player, so if he tells you something, you're going to do your best to try to imitate that."
3. The Turning Point
What a roller coaster ride the second period was for the Hurricanes.
The Canes came out in the middle frame buzzing, hanging onto the puck and rolling around in the offensive zone. The Penguins were on their heels, until they were able to draw a penalty, the Canes' fifth of the contest. That ensuing power play swung some momentum in Pittsburgh's direction, and they built on that with another power play shortly after. But, again, the Canes killed it off and survived.
Not even three minutes later, Slavin netted his sixth of the season to tie the game at two, and in the final two minutes of the period, Gardiner's fourth put his team ahead for good.
Video: CAR@PIT: Gardiner rips scorching one-timer for PPG
"Those were really big penalty kills just to stay in the game at 2-1," Williams said. "Very important, and that's certainly not lost on us."
4. Strong Penalty Kill
And how about the penalty kill? The ever-dangerous Penguins' power play had seven cracks, often a recipe for disaster for the opposition. Pittsburgh did strike once late in the first via Evgeni Malkin's blast from the point, but that was scored on a two-man advantage. The other six conventional 5-on-4 advantages were dispatched by the Canes' group of killers.
"Special teams are obviously huge, especially when there are a lot of penalties," Brind'Amour said. "We were able to get to our game."
Then in the third period, the Canes took over, sealing their victory with a trio of goals - and playing the majority of the frame at even strength.
"That third period was as super quiet as I've heard this arena," Williams said. "We definitely did something right. We've got these guys three more times. We got one on them. The next few are going to be just as important."
5. Two for Willy
Early in the third period, Justin Williams had the puck on his blade and an open net in front of him. He pitched the shot high and wide as a couple of desperate Penguins defenders dove to try to save what should have been the Canes' fourth goal of the game.
That wouldn't be the last scoring opportunity of the game for Williams, though.
"That could have put the game away. He just comes back laughing about it. He gets it," Brind'Amour said. "Then he goes and gets another one. He's just consistent, and that's why he's been a great pro."
With 11:30 left in regulation, Williams got his stick on Haydn Fleury's point shot to give the Canes a 4-2 lead and extend his goal scoring streak to four games.
Video: CAR@PIT: Williams tips one through legs to pad lead
About seven minutes later, Jordan Staal centered the puck off a defending skate in front, the puck popping right to Williams, who banged it in.
Video: CAR@PIT: Williams nets second on key bounce down low
"Did you see how when I have empty nets, I don't really shoot them in?" Williams joked. "I just like tipping them in. That's kind of how I like to do it. After I missed that one, I really had to atone."
The Hurricanes head to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Tuesday before finishing up this five-game road trip in New Jersey on Thursday.