Mid-October was fairly rough to the Canes.
After starting the season 5-0-0, the Canes hit a bit of a rough patch. After losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time, the Canes then rebounded to beat the Los Angeles Kings, but that was before losing three straight games between Wednesday, October 16 and Thursday, October 24.
Between the second loss of the season to the Blue Jackets, which occurred on Thursday, October 24, and the home contest against the Chicago Blackhawks, which was on Saturday, October 26, the Canes had a much-needed off day. The Canes regrouped, recovered from a long road trip, and got ready to play in front of the best fans in the NHL on Saturday night.
That off day has proven to be exactly what the Canes needed, as they have won their past two games: first, a 4-0 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks that saw the Canes re-discover their power play with two man-advantage goals, and second, a 2-1 Andrei Svechnikov-led victory over a Calgary Flames team that has a few former Canes players and former head coach Bill Peters leading the way.
In the Blackhawks game, the Canes were firing on all cylinders. Svechnikov put two goals in the back of the net in this game: his first on a wrist shot only five seconds into a power play that was rocketed past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (which made the game 1-0), and his second late in the third period that went off Crawford, a Blackhawks defender, then into the goal to make it 4-0.
In between Svechnikov goals, Nino Niederreiter got his first goal of the season late in the second period off a beautiful wrist shot, Jordan Staal scored on a one-timer for the Canes’ second power play goal of the game, and Petr Mrazek made multiple great saves, locking down the net with 32 saves (and a shutout) on the night.
The Canes were back in the win column. They would stay home for a Tuesday night contest against the Calgary Flames, who were the top overall seed in last year’s Western Conference playoffs. The Flames came in featuring Elias Lindholm, Derek Ryan, and Noah Hanifin, all former Canes players, and Bill Peters, the last man to coach the Canes before Rod Brind’Amour.
It was Lindholm, the former Cane, who opened the scoring in this game with a one-timer off a pass from Johnny Gaudreau for a 1-0 lead. It looked like the Flames would take a 2-0 off a goal from Mikael Backlund, but that goal was called off, much to the delight of the PNC Arena crowd.
In the second period, the excitement was generated from the defense, highlighted by saves from Mrazek and Flames goalie David Rittich. No goals were scored in this 20-minute timeframe.
The offense returned in the third period, as the Canes would put away this game to the tune of two goals. The first one, scored by Svech, was featured on SportsCenter Top 10 the next day. Svech picked the puck up with his stick and slung it past the right shoulder of Rittich, which sent the Caniacs into a cheering frenzy. The second goal, also scored by Svech, was on a power play. New Canes center Erik Haula screened Rittich, and Svech snuck a puck into the net.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Canes locked down, especially late in the third period, and combined with a couple of outstanding saves from Mrezek, were able to hold off the Flames, 2-1.
As the Canes have regained momentum with a brief two-game winning streak, they take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7:30 P.M. within the friendly confines of PNC Arena. The Red Wings are currently riding a two-game point streak, as they dropped a 5-4 contest in overtime to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, and emerged victorious in a 3-1 contest against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, October 29.
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