By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes posted a second high-scoring finish over the Tampa Bay Lightning in as many nights, a 6-1 win at PNC Arena on Wednesday.
In order, Janne Kuokkanen, Dougie Hamilton, Martin Necas, Micheal Ferland, Julien Gauthier, and Jaacob Slavin all claimed their first goals of the preseason, while goaltenders Scott Darling and Callum Booth split equal time in net for the win.
Darling played just past 30 minutes stopping all 16 shots he faced while Booth allowed one goal on 11 shots that came his way.
“Just good to get on the ice and get into real game-like situations, facing power plays, some rush chances – just good to be back out there with the guys,” Darling said afterwards.
Following a 4-1 win over the Lightning in the Sunshine State on Tuesday by the Hurricanes’ youthful road squad, the veteran-laden home squad presented a slower-paced game tempo against an opposition that didn’t include snipers like Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov.
The conservative speed level wasn’t intentional by any means according to head coach Rod Brind’Amour.
“We started slow, and the game was not very good, just to put it bluntly,” he said.
“We looked the ones who were tired at the start. I think a lot of it is just rust – guys who haven’t played in a long, long time. They kind of got their legs under them. Conditioning is gonna be a huge thing, and for the way we play, it is gonna be obviously paramount.”
Kuokkanen scored on a redirect of captain Justin Williams’ pass into the crease and put Carolina ahead 1-0 with 6:31 remaining in the first period.
Slavin also earned an assist on the power play marker, one of three scored on six power play opportunities earned throughout the game for the Hurricanes.
Still holding a one-goal lead, the second frame remained scoreless until Carolina blasted two pucks past Lightning goaltender Eddie Pasquale in a span of two-and-a-half minutes.
Hamilton wired a low shot from the left-side boards which rebounded back to him in the faceoff circle from where he changed locations and sniped another shot, this time past Pasquale’s right ear and into the top corner and extended the Hurricanes lead at 17:04.
A point shot from Faulk with 25 seconds remaining in the period made it through with the help of a tip from Necas who was parked in the low slot and put Carolina ahead 3-0 heading into the second intermission.
Tampa Bay didn’t roll over entirely, breaking the Hurricanes’ shutout bid as Boris Katchouk redirected a pass from Adam Earne to cut the difference to two goals.
Penalty trouble challenged the Carolina penalty kill, but the Hurricanes maintained a clean 5-5 finish on the night in that department.
In total, the Lightning netminder, who played the entire game, faced 35 shots, and was worn down by the final period.
Carolina filled the net with three goals in just over six minutes as Ferland and Slavin scored on the power play while an even-strength tally from Gauthier solidified the win for the Hurricanes.
The strong finish was indicative of the message the players have gotten to play until the final horn blows.
Forward Warren Foegele thought the team took advantage of the situation it was presented with.
“I think they just started to give up a bit,” he said.
“We just kept playin’ hard for the rest of that third period. They came out scoring the first goal in the period and we knew we needed to respond. I thought our pace started to get up there, and you can see the goals started to pile up.”
“The goaltending was great, and I like the way our young guys are battling,” Brind’Amour added.
“It’s nice to see those guys contribute.”
Notables: Williams registered three assists in his first preseason game as captain…Hamilton and Ferland each notched their first goals as Hurricanes…Slavin (1g, 1a) and Spencer Smallman (2a) were the other multi-point finishers on the night.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport