New Year, Same Results for the Hurricanes

By Rockin Reese

The Carolina Hurricanes started 2024 the same way they ended 2023…winning. Right now, they’re on a 4-game winning streak. As they prepare for back-to-back games (tonight in Washington DC against the Washington Capitals & tomorrow at home against the St. Louis Blues), let’s relive how they ended 2023 against the Toronto Maple Leafs & started 2024 against the New York Rangers.

Last Saturday night, they went to Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to play the Maple Leafs. Just 1:47 into the game, (Maple Leafs left winger) Matthew Knies was called for hooking. The Hurricanes only needed 37 seconds to make Knies pay for that penalty. As (Maple Leafs defenseman) Mark Giordano tried to pass to (right winger) Calle Järnkrok, the puck was poke checked by (Hurricanes center) Seth Jarvis.

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After (right winger) Andrei Svechnikov deflected the puck to (center/alternate captain) Sebastian Aho, he set up (left winger) Michael Bunting to score a power play goal against (Maple Leafs goalie) Martin Jones. The Hurricanes ended the first period, leading 1-0.

In the second period, the Maple Leafs committed another penalty, as (left winger) Max Domi was called for holding. The Hurricanes made him pay, even faster than they made Knies pay. As (Maple Leafs defenseman) Jake McCabe tried to clear the puck, (Hurricanes defenseman) Brent Burns was was near center ice to prevent the puck from entering Toronto’s offensive zone.

Burns passed to Aho, who passed to Svechnikov. Only 12 seconds after Domi was sent to the penalty box, Svechnikov would pass to Jarvis, who would score a power play goal. The period ended with a 2-0 Hurricanes lead.

In the third period, the Maple Leafs finally got on the scoreboard, just 4:16 into the period. After the Hurricanes cleared the puck, Giordano retrieved it. He passed it to Domi, who flew through center ice into the offensive zone. Domi passed to (defenseman) Timothy Liljegren, who fired a heater past (Hurricanes goalie) Pyotr Kochetkov. With less than a minute remaining in regulation, the Maple Leafs  pulled Jones for an extra attacker.

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As (right winger/alternate captain) Mitch Marner tried to set up (right winger) William Nylander for the tying goal, Aho took the puck away & sprinted for an empty net goal for the Hurricanes. Though the Maple Leafs got a late goal from (left winger) Nicolas Robertson, the Hurricanes ended the game with a 3-2 victory.

On Tuesday night, they went to Madison Square Garden in New York, NY to play the Rangers. Only 30 seconds into the game, (Rangers left winger) Alexis Lafrenière was called for interference. Just they like they did with the Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes made Lafrenière pay for his early penalty. After a shot by (center) Martin Nečas was saved by (Rangers goalie) Igor Shesterkin, (Hurricanes defenseman) Brady Skjei retrieved the puck.

Skjei passed to (right winger) Stefan Noesen, who set up (center) Jack Drury with a power play goal. With 56 seconds remaining in the first period, (Rangers captain) Jacob Trouba was called for holding. It would take just 25 seconds for Trouba to pay. After Aho won a face-off, he had a quick puck exchange with Burns. Aho delivered a perfect pass to Svechnikov, who scored a power play goal. The Hurricanes led 2-0, after the period ended.

In the second period, the Rangers scored a hard-fought goal at the 4:30 mark. After a puck battle between (left winger/alternate captain) Chris Kreider & (Hurricanes left winger) Brendan Lemieux, (Rangers center/alternate captain) Mika Zibanejad was able to get the puck to (left winger/alternate captain) Artemi Panarin. He backhanded a pass to Trouba, who shot. Kreider redirected it to score the goal against Kochetkov.

About 2 minutes later, the Hurricanes would score, after a puck clear. At center ice, (Hurricanes left winger/alternate captain) Jordan Martinook sent the puck into Carolina’s offensive zone. The puck was played by (Rangers defenseman) Erik Gustafsson. It came by Shesterkin, but (defenseman) Braden Schneider overskated the puck. Unfortunately for Shesterkin, he played it to (Hurricanes center/captain) Jordan Staal, who set up Martinook for a goal. With 39 seconds remaining in the period, Nečas was called for holding.

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The Hurricanes had a 3-1 lead, at the end of 2 periods, but the Rangers would start the next period with 1:21 of power play time.

In the third period, it was all Hurricanes. As the power play for the Rangers was expiring, (defenseman) K’Andre Miller had the puck taken from him by Drury. Martinook controlled it so Drury could skate ahead & pass it to Nečas, who had just left the penalty box. Nečas passed to Drury, who tipped the puck to (defenseman) Jalen Chatfield. With Martinook screening Shesterkin, Chatfield unloaded & scored just 1:33 into the period.

Just 1:23 later, (Hurricanes defenseman) Brett Pesce blocked a shot by Lafrenière. After a puck battle, Skjei launched a pass to Svechnikov, who was being chased down by (Rangers defenseman) Ryan Lindgren. Svechnikov would score his 2nd goal of the game. With less than 4 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation, Kochetkov saved a shot against Lindgren. Skjei deflected the rebound to Lemieux who skated into Carolina’s offensive zone. Lemieux made a pass to Bunting, who scored a goal.

The Hurricanes were a giant worm in the Big Apple, as they earned a 6-1 victory over the Rangers.

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