The Canes moved to 3-0 Thursday night with a win in Montreal, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi silenced the boos with a strong performance.
Highlighted by Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s first goal as a Hurricane, the team’s offense was explosive and goalie Frederik Andersen remained strong behind them, saving 28 of 29 shots.
With the win, the Hurricanes remained unbeaten and improve to 3-0-0.
KK feeling A-OK after first goal
In his first appearance back at Centre Bell, Montreal fans showed their displeasure with Canes recent offer-sheet acquisition, Kotkaniemi. He was greeted with a sea of boos as he came onto the ice, and it continued throughout the entirety of the game. However, Kotkaniemi just laughed it off.
“That’s tough for anybody, whether you’re a young kid or not, but I think he was expecting that reaction,” said Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour after the win. “That’s just the way it is, so he answered that the best way he could.”
Kotkaniemi buried his first goal as a Hurricane back in his former team’s arena, and it was an important one. The redirect was scored off a feed from Brady Skjei back at the blue line and extended the Canes lead to 3-1 with 10:37 remaining in regulation.
“I just think it was meant to be. It felt really good,” Kotkaniemi said.
It was all smiles both on the ice and on the bench for KK’s first goal with the team. He ended the game with a goal on three shots and finished with three hits.
The Canes took two penalties early in the first period which were partially balanced by a Canadiens hooking call in the middle, making it 4-on-3. The Canes penalty kill thrived early, but with just under 30 seconds remaining in Andrei Svechnikov’s slashing penalty at 5-on-4, Brendan Gallagher appeared to have scored.
After a challenge by Carolina, however, the goal was overturned due to goaltender interference, as Gallagher initiated contact and was in the crease at the time of the tip-in.
“With goalie interference, it’s always been a crap-shoot,” Brind’Amour said. “You just don’t know. But by the letter of the law, he’s in the crease and he bumps the goalie.”
Aho put on a show
Just 23 seconds into the second period and with five seconds remaining on a Canes power play, Sebastian Aho netted his first goal of the season. It was a slap shot off of a phenomenal feed from Teuvo Teravainen, with Tony DeAngelo picking up the secondary assist.
The goal put the Canes on the board for a 1-0 lead. It was Aho’s 146th of his career, passing Sami Kapanen for the most goals by a Finnish-born player in franchise history.
Aho scored his second goal of the night, an empty netter, with 35 seconds remaining. This gave the Canes a 4-1 lead. He ended the game with two goals on five shots.
Svechnikov’s name has been all over the score sheet thus far this season, and that trend continued Thursday night. Less than two minutes after Aho’s opening goal of the night, Svechnikov roofed a feed from Martin Necas and extended the lead to 2-0.
“It’s got to be one of the hardest wrist shots in the league,” Aho commented on Svechnikov’s shot.
The goal made Svechnikov just the fourth skater in the last 35 years to record consecutive season-opening goal streaks of at least three games, putting him in good company with Filip Forsberg, Auston Matthews and Michel Goulet, per NHL Public Relations.
Svechnikov ended the game with one goal on seven shots.
Canes had some very special teams
The Canes scored during their lone chance on the power play, with Aho capitalizing on a backdoor play. Although we didn’t see much of the man-advantage last night, what we did see was impressive.
The penalty kill was more of the same, with Carolina killing off five of six penalties last night. Although they shouldn’t have taken as many penalties as they did, they handled it with ease for the most part. The Hurricanes did a great job not only clearing the puck, but also forming short-handed opportunities.
Jordan Staal was the recipient of two short-handed chances, one coming in the first period and a near-goal sighting in the third. Overall, the penalty kill performed well last night, and the lone goal-against that came shorthanded was not the result of poor play from Carolina.
“We gave up one, but when you’re in the box that much, that’s not good, so we did a heck of a job there. Our killers came out big and our goalie was great tonight again,” Brind’Amour said.
Andersen continues to shine in net
Frederik Andersen has now begun his Carolina career with three straight victories and also had a stellar .964 SV%, saving all but one shot last night.
He saved 28 of 29 shots against the Canadiens. In his first three starts, his GAA is 2.00 and his overall SV% is .938.
The Great Dane has proven to be a reliable, crafty and capable starting goalie despite early pressure, stopping seemingly impossible shots on even-strength and shorthanded shifts.
He’s silenced some of the skeptics that have questioned Don Waddell’s moves to let Petr Mrazek, Alex Nedeljkovic and James Reimer go and replace the goalie pool with Andersen and Antti Rantta.
Carolina continues its road trip on Saturday, traveling to Columbus to face the 3-1-0 Blue Jackets at 7 p.m.
With Andersen making all three of the Canes first starts, we may see backup netminder Raanta get his first start in a Canes uniform on Friday.