It took 40 games but the Carolina Hurricanes finally were involved in a shootout. They also won it, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 at an empty Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.
Andrei Svechnikov had the only shootout goal as Canes goalie Frederik Andersen stopped all three Ottawa shooters. Andersen had 37 saves in the game as the Canes (29-9-2) got goals from Derek Stepan in the second period and Nino Niederreiter in the third in the comeback win.
▪ It was a grinding game, with more gritty defensive stops than slick offensive plays. It was 0-0 after the first period and 1-1 after 40 minutes with both teams getting sticks on pucks in the defensive zones and minimizing high-danger chances.
The Sens’ goals both came on redirections -- the first by Canes defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who tried to block a Nick Paul shot in the first period. The Sens took a 2-1 lead in the third on a redirect by Alex Formenton with 14:10 left in regulation.
For the Canes, Sebastian Aho’s line was kept in check and had a quiet game. The Canes’ third and fourth lines were the more effective, playing a heavy game, as Stepan scored in the second and Niederreiter’s goal, on a scramble in front of the net, tied it 2-2 with 3:22 left regulation.
Andersen stopped seven Ottawa shots after Formenton’s goal until Niederreiter tied it, and had three saves in the overtime.
▪ Andrei Svechnikov is a strong player who likes a physical style of game and doesn’t avoid collisions. As the Canes forward said Thursday morning, “I don’t ever try to go and just kill somebody, but when I have to do that I will do that.”
That is, hit somebody, hard. Svechnikov did that Thursday and it cost the Sens one of their best players. Svechnikov and Josh Norris collided as they fought for a puck in the opening period, Svechnikov claiming the puck and Norris tumbling into the boards.
Norris, who had the winning goal against Carolina in the Dec. 2 game in Raleigh, left with an upper-body injury and did not return. The Senators lost their leading scorer, forward Drake Batherson, to a high-ankle sprain Tuesday against Buffalo when Batherson was knocked into the ends boards by Sabres goalie Aaron Dell.
▪ The sight of an empty Canadian Tire Centre was a reminder of all that has occurred the past two years with the pandemic. The Ottawa attendance restrictions will be changed later this month but the Sens had no fans in the stands Thursday for the third straight home game.
It was an eerie flashback to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs and the games in the empty arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, or the early season games in 2021 before the pandemic restrictions were eased and the fans finally returned.
▪ Maybe it was the empty house but the Canes didn’t have the same jump or energy much of the game Thursday they did at home Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. While they outshot the Sens 15-7 in the first, they were 0-2 on the power play and generally played at a slower pace than against Vegas.
But the Canes didn’t fall behind in the first, either. In the game in Raleigh, Carolina outshot the Sens 20-3 in the opening period but trailed 1-0. It was scoreless Thursday.
The Canes’ fourth line produced the first goal of the game in the second. Jesperi Kotkaniemi first kept the Sens from clearing the puck from their zone, allowing Brady Skjei to get off a shot that Stepan redirected past goalie Matt Murray for his sixth of the season.
▪ Tony DeAngelo had the right idea but went about it in the wrong way. The Canes defenseman attempted to block an outside shot by the Sens’ Paul but did it by sticking out his left leg.
DeAngelo got a piece of the puck with his leg, only to redirect it past goalie Frederik Andersen on the blocker side for a 1-1 tie. Andersen had 19 saves in the second period as the Sens outshot the Canes 20-6.