LOS ANGELES - Backed by Petr Mrazek's 31-save shutout, the Carolina Hurricanes grinded out a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Martin Necas scored the game-deciding goal, while his countryman recorded his first shutout of the season and first in four career games against Los Angeles.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday night in LA.
1. Grinding One Out
Of the Hurricanes' first six wins of the season, each has felt somewhat distinct. File this one under a grind, as the Canes broke a scoreless deadlock in the second period and then sat on that lead for virtually the remainder of regulation. A win's a win, and the Canes were able to collect a pair of points to begin this three-game trek through California.
"We're finding ways to win, and we've done it different ways, which is good," Jordan Staal said. "A night like tonight wasn't a free-for-all back and forth; it was a dig in kind of thing. We didn't do that against Columbus, and I thought tonight we did a better job of sticking with that game and style."
"We had a great second period. That was really what got us going," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That got us the lead. They came with a nice push at the end, but we didn't really give up a ton in the third. It was just hunkering down, and we had to kill some penalties. It was a good road win."
2. Commanding the Second Period
The second period was indeed the Hurricanes' most complete 20-minute segment of the evening. They were quick and tenacious on the puck, possessing it with a purpose and dictating play.
"We started to play our game of controlling the puck, playing in their end and using our forecheck to our advantage.," Staal said. "We started to wear them out a little bit in the second, and then got a big goal."
Martin Necas ensured the Canes had something to show on the scoreboard for their dominance in the second. Ryan Dzingel dusted the puck off behind the net before sliding a deft backhand pass into the slot, where Necas sprung into frame and rifled a shot past Jack Campbell for his second goal of the season.
Video: CAR@LAK: Dzingel sets up Necas with pretty feed
"The puck went behind the net, and I saw a spot in the slot there," Necas said. "Zinger found me perfectly."
As it turned out, that would be all the offense the Canes would need, giving Necas his first career game-winning goal.
"Really happy for him. Game-winning goal for him in the lights, nice," Mrazek smiled. "Brought us two points home tonight."
3. Holding On in the Third
As was to be expected, the Kings came with a push in the third period, and the Hurricanes were content to simply play smart with the puck.
"I think we managed the puck really well when we were up 1-0, even in the third period," Mrazek said. "The penalty kill was great. We didn't give them much."
The Canes were whistled for two late penalties, and both sent key killers in Brett Pesce and Staal to the box. And both times, the penalty kill got the job done. Sebastian Aho got credit for redirecting a Teuvo Teravainen shot into the empty net in the last 10 seconds of the game while the Canes were down two skaters (shorthanded, and Campbell was pulled).
Video: CAR@LAK: Aho pots empty-netter for SHG
"We kind of grinded that third period," Staal said. "It wasn't pretty, but we found a way to win."
4. Getting Through the First
The Hurricanes didn't have their best first period, but they escaped the first 20 minutes with a 0-0 score thanks to the stellar work of Mrazek, who turned away all 17 shots he saw.
"They were shooting lots, and we didn't really have control of that first period," Staal said. "Raz bailed us out to start, and we got our game back in the second."
The Kings had a sizeable advantage in shots on goal early - it was 9-1 in the first seven minutes - and both teams were unable to convert on a pair of power-play opportunities. Nino Niederreiter had the best chance on the Canes' first power play, but he continues to be snake-bitten as he searches for his first goal of the season. Aho had the best chance of the second power play off a gorgeous seam pass from Necas, but Aho put the one-timer into the side of the net.
Perhaps the slow start was the result of a long travel day on Monday in which the team was confined to a plane for around seven hours. Perhaps it was just a matter of rebooting the legs.
"Every game is tough. Every game is a little different," Necas said. "We just try to keep playing our game."
5. Mrazzle Dazzle
From the drop of the puck to the final horn, Petr Mrazek was arguably the best player on the ice.
He was dialed in, and he had to be early with how frequently he was being tested by the Kings, even if a bulk of the scoring chances weren't exactly grade-A opportunities.
Video: CAR@LAK: Mrazek records 31 saves in shutout victory
"It's always great to see a lot of pucks early in the game," Mrazek said. "It helps confidence early."
Conversely, Mrazek then had to remain sharp in the second period while the action was predominantly located at the opposite end of the ice. After giving up 17 shots in the first period, the Canes held the Kings without a shot for nearly the first 12 minutes of the second and finished the period with a 9-3 edge.
"You try to watch the puck and be focused," he said. "You try to see the puck as much as you can."
In total, Mrazek made 31 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.
"First of many this year, for sure," Staal smiled. "Raz has been steady for us since he's come to Carolina. The boys feel confident in front of him, and he looks good right now."
"[Shutouts] are nice, but you don't look at them like that. You care about the team," Mrazek said. "You try to get as many wins as you can in the season so you can make the playoffs. That's all that matters."
It's off to San Jose, where the Canes will face off with the Sharks on Wednesday.