The Carolina Hurricanes began a five-game road trip Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets. Five takeaways from the game at Canada Life Centre:
-- There’s a lot to be said about winning -- or losing -- the first game of a lengthy road trip. A winning start can set the tone for the trip. Lose, and the pressure builds.
The Canes got off to winning start Tuesday, beating the Jets 4-2. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and assist, and Martin Necas and Vincent Trocheck each scored on the power play for the Canes (17-6-1) while goalie Frederik Andersen earned his 12th win.
The Canes’ Ian Cole was called for a five-minute major and a game misconduct with 12:21 left in regulation after a knee-to-knee open-ice hit on the Jets’ Mark Scheifele. Carolina, protecting a 4-2 lead, efficiently killed off the five minutes and that was that -- a winning start.
-- The Canes scored the first goal of the game, always important, and led 1-0 after the first period on Slavin’s first goal of the season. But the Canes would have liked to squeeze more out of the period. They had a 15-5 edge in shots but led 16-3 in scoring chances and 10-1 in high-danger chances according to Naturalsttatrick.com. It was that dominant.
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made several high-quality stops to keep it a one-goal game in the opening period as Winnipeg seemed to be showing some lingering effects from their last game -- an emotional, ultra-physical game against the Toronto Maple Leafs that the Jets won.
-- Seated somewhere in Canada Life Centre were Igor and Elena Svechnikov, who were able to see their two sons play in an NHL game together for the first time. Andrei Svechnikov faced off against his brother, Evgeny, five times last season as both realized a long-held dream -- Evgeny then with the Detroit Red Wings. But not with their dad in the stands.
While Elena has spent considerable time in North America with her sons, Igor has been in Russia. Andrei said Tuesday that because of COVID-19, Igor had not been with Evgeny for about three years while Andrei has been to Russia in the off-season to spend some time at home.
Both Andrei and Evgeny played with a little extra bounce in their step. And maybe with a tear or two.
-- Nothing makes an NHL coach hold his breath any longer, or chew his gum more furiously, than a review for goaltender interference, especially when an unsuccessful coach’s challenge results in a penalty. So it was for the Jets’ Paul Maurice, who challenged Aho’s goal early in the second period that gave the Canes a 2-0 lead.
Aho was nudged into Hellebuyck before scoring his 11th of the season, but was it enough for goaltender interference? The ruling: no interference, goal for Aho, penalty on Winnipeg. The Jets got out of that jam well as Trocheck was called for hooking and Winnipeg’s Nik Ehlers scored during four-on-four play in transition.
-- The Canes took three penalties in the second period and likely would argue a couple of the calls. The third, a tripping penalty on Cole, was costly. The Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois scored on the power play for a 2-2 tie.
But the Canes also struck on the power play before the period ended. After Trocheck drew a cross-checking call, the Canes got the puck to the net and kept whacking it until they had it in the net. Jordan Staal missed, then Nino Niederreiter, then rookie Seth Jarvis, who was looking at an open net and all but salivating.
But Martin Necas didn’t miss with 20 seconds left in the period, knocking in a shot from the slot for his sixth.