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The Carolina Hurricanes earned their 11th straight win this afternoon, defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in a shootout.
The teams had last met just in Carolina before the holiday break, where the Hurricanes were outplayed through a lot of the matchup, but Pyotr Kochetkov led the team to a 4-1 win.
The Hurricanes were under siege a bit in the first few minutes, taking a penalty and surrendering some chances on the ensuing power play, forcing Antti Raanta to make some good saves. Then after Carolina had a power play of their own where they couldn’t get a ton going, Brady Skjei got called for interference and once again, Raanta had to be sturdy to hold off New Jersey another power play. The Hurricanes did a better job forechecking and causing some turnovers in the back half of the period to build a bit of momentum, but neither team was giving up much at even strength.
Then after outshooting New Jersey through much of the first 10 minutes of the second period, the Hurricanes managed to open the scoring near the midway mark. Stefan Noesen picked the puck up off the boards in his own end and came down ice on a 2-on-1 with Derek Stepan, then made a great play to wait for Ryan Graves to go down before sliding it to Stepan, who scored on the open net. However, despite Carolina outshooting New Jersey 19-11 in the frame, Jack Hughes was able to use his speed to head to the net later on, cutting around Raanta and scoring to tie the game. The Devils then had a couple really good chances to try to quickly take the lead afterwards, and with New Jersey swinging all the momentum in their favour late, Brett Pesce was forced to take a penalty, and things weren’t looking good. However, on the ensuing New Jersey power play, the puck ended up getting to Mackenzie Blackwood who went to play it and completely whiffed, putting it right to Sebastian Aho on an absolutely disastrous giveaway, with Aho scoring to put Carolina back ahead.
We then saw an eventful, back-and-forth third period. New Jersey ended up taking an early penalty and while Carolina couldn’t capitalize, they built a bit of pressure, and Blackwood did notably come up with a huge glove save on Derek Stepan about five minutes into the period. Soon after though, Jesper Bratt ended up beating Brady Skjei with his speed down the wing and slid the puck through Raanta to tie the game. However, only a few minutes later, Stefan Noesen tipped Calvin de Haan’s point shot and it got right to Stepan, who converted in-close to put the Hurricanes back ahead. The scoring kept coming though, and only 34 seconds later, Nico Hischier managed to beat Raanta with a wraparound, making it a 3-3 game.
Later in the frame, New Jersey then had a great opportunity to take the lead off a shot from Dougie Hamilton which hit the post, but it stayed out. Only shortly after though, the teams ended up at 4-on-4 and Jesper Bratt made an entry and managed to squeak a puck through Raanta on a bit of a weak goal, putting New Jersey ahead for the first time in the game.
However, New Jersey ended up taking a penalty and then almost right after, Ryan Graves put the puck over the glass. Despite it remaining as a 4-on-3 based on the situation of Carolina having a player in the box beforehand, Martin Necas managed to capitalize on the opportunity, beating a screened Blackwood to tie the game, as the wild third period continued.
As a result of the Graves penalty, the Hurricanes then had a full two-minute power play after that but despite some opportunities, they couldn’t convert and the game continued to overtime.
In the extra frame, we saw some great chances at both ends, but the best one came from Jaccob Slavin, who had a breakaway but just couldn’t beat Blackwood. Soon after though, Seth Jarvis ended up with a breakaway of his own, and he too was stopped by Blackwood. It was one of the more entertaining overtimes of the season with back-and-forth action, but a shootout was needed.
In the first round, Tomas Tatar was stopped with a big save by Raanta, but Brent Burns couldn’t convert either. Raanta then stopped Jesper Bratt, and Andrei Svechnikov managed to put Carolina ahead, making a nice move to beat Blackwood. Jack Hughes had to score to keep it going but he was stopped by Raanta, as Carolina picked up the hard-fought win and extra point.
It’s a big win for the Hurricanes, after outshooting the Devils by a 47-28 margin. Carolina put together a great effort here and once again, the power play came up big, this time with the tying goal late in the third period.
With the victory, Carolina extends their winning streak into 2023, now reaching 11 games. Their point streak also remains alive, hitting 17 games today. They also put a tiny bit more distance between themselves and the Devils for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, as the Hurricanes look to continue pulling away.
They also notably got some big contributions from the fourth line in the win, with Derek Stepan scoring two goals. Stepan almost had another early in the third period as well, being stopped off the glove save by Blackwood (all while playing under 10 minutes today). It showcases the Hurricanes’ forward depth, in that even when they may not have a fully contributing top-six outside of their top few forwards, the third and fourth lines are able to provide enough offense to keep them going.
The quality of chances against Raanta were certainly higher than previous games, but the Hurricanes did have to overcome a couple soft goals against. Each of the last three goals against (but especially the final two) were pretty stoppable. At the other end, while Mackenzie Blackwood had the horrible giveaway on the Aho goal, he also made 43 saves for New Jersey. That said, Raanta did make some key stops when it mattered, both in overtime and the shootout, on route to the win.
Speaking of goalies, Pyotr Kochetkov was also named as the NHL’s rookie of the month for December. He posted a .939 save percentage and 7-0-1 record through eight games last month.
It's a great way to kick off the new year - Carolina will be back in action on Tuesday, when they defend their winning streak against the New York Rangers.