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Hurricanes overcoming adversity to stay atop Metropolitan Division

March 22, 2023, 11:43 PM ET [1 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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With under a month left in the regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes are in a battle to stay atop the Metropolitan Division.

However, the team’s hopes to do so took a major hit last week, following the news that Andrei Svechnikov will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. Starting from the game in which Svechikov was injured, the Hurricanes dropped three of four games that week and were starting to lose ground in the division.

Sunday may have marked a bit of a turning point, however. Despite pulling ahead early against the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina blew a two-goal lead and it looked like their slump was destined to continue. But just when it seemed as though the Hurricanes would drop a winnable contest, Martin Necas tied the game with under a second to go, sending the game to overtime. From there, Sebastian Aho more or less went end to end, deking Tony DeAngelo in the process to score the game winner for Carolina.

While it wasn’t necessarily the most complete game for Carolina, it was just the kind of jumpstart they needed. They had outshot the Toronto Maple Leafs in the game prior and beat the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the week before that, but things weren’t necessarily trending in the right direction and a loss to the Flyers would’ve only continued that.

It would’n’t have meant much though if the Hurricanes ended up coming out flat against the New York Rangers last night, though. While the Hurricanes did fall behind in the first period, they completely took over in the second frame. Despite outshooting New York by a massive 15-5 margin in the middle period, however, they just couldn’t convert and their trend of outplaying an opponent but not being able to finish seemed to be surfacing yet again.

The Hurricanes kept pressing though and were finally rewarded midway through the third period, evening the game off a goal from Jalen Chatfield. It was great to see them finally draw even, but that excitement quickly vanished when Kaapo Kakko reinstated the Rangers’ lead under a minute later. Despite the deflating turn of events, Carolina bounced back right away, as Stefan Noesen scored only 18 seconds later, to tie the game yet again.

Then with under three minutes to go, Brent Burns found Teuvo Teravainen in front with a great pass, and Teravainen beat Igor Shesterkin to put Carolina ahead for the first time, as the Hurricanes held on for a 3-2 win.

Following a stretch which included several losses, it would be pretty easy for the Hurricanes to use being short-staffed after a season-ending injury to yet another top player as an excuse after not initially getting the results they wanted in either game. After giving up a multi-goal lead against the Flyers though, they kept pressing and battle back to even the game, then take the win.

With the Rangers, they were the better team through much of the first two and a half periods but just couldn’t seem to get on the board. Again though, they kept pressing and even after going right back down after tying it, the team’s intensity never vanished and the Hurricanes eventually ended up pushing through. Especially when facing a very good opponent who’s mostly healthy on the road, it’s a huge win and hopefully the Hurricanes can build a bit of momentum from it.

Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas have been counted on as expected, combining for four goals against the Flyers in particular. That said, I touched on this in the last article, but offense from the blue line is going to need to continue to be a factor from Carolina. Brady Skjei scored his 15th goal of the season against Philadelphia, while Brent Burns set up Teravainen’s game winner against the Rangers. With a weakened forward group, Carolina’s high-end blue line will need to continue helping out.

Another key point: the New Jersey Devils suffered an overtime loss at home against the Minnesota Wild yesterday, further extending Carolina’s lead in the Metropolitan Division. As of now, the Hurricanes sit two points up on the Devils for top spot, but also have two games in hand.

The Hurricanes will face the Rangers once again tomorrow, as they kick off a very difficult four-game homestand. After the Rangers, they’ll face the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, with the four games coming over just six days.

It’s going to be a really good test for the Hurricanes. We can bet that if the Hurricanes make a deep playoff run, they’re going to encounter at least one of these teams along the way, so there’s some intrigue in whether the team can prove they’re still truly able to compete against other top teams in the East without Svechnikov.



Can the Hurricanes overcome Andrei Svechnikov’s season-ending injury?
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