RALEIGH, N.C. – Dougie Hamilton provided the answer to a burning question heading into the 2019-2020 NHL season-opener for the Carolina Hurricanes – will the Storm Surge return?
Following the defenseman’s lone goal in a shootout that gave the Hurricanes a 4-3 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens in front of a sold-out crowd at PNC Arena on Thursday night, Dougie and his teammates raised their hands and began to clap before taking a glide and jump into the opposite end boards.
Yes – the Storm Surge was back.
Led by goals in regulation from Lucas Wallmark, Martin Necas and Erik Haula, Carolina pushed the Canadiens into an exhausting overtime period.
Then it was goalie Petr Mrazek who stoned all three Montreal shooters – Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, and Nick Suzuki – and capped off a 33-save night to send everyone home happy.
“We didn’t really play our game for two periods,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“I give credit to the other team because they were forcing us to do things – that’s just now how we play.”
Speed to burn
Until Wallmark scored the Hurricanes’ first goal of the season late in the first period, both teams were maneuvering all over the ice, gaining and relinquishing puck possession and trading finishing checks.
The Habs maintained puck control for a majority of the period, but Carolina offset that with feisty puck battle tips, pokes, and short passes that led to shots on netminder Carey Price.
Price ended the game with 40 saves in the extra-time losing effort.
“I think it was a hard-fought game,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
“For the first game of the season, I thought the pace was extraordinary with both teams. They also play a fast game, and they attack aggressively.”
Shifting into cruise too soon
Following Necas’ first goal of the season, at the 2:19 mark of the second, it looked as though the Hurricanes slipped into a comfort zone that Montreal took advantage of.
Three straight goals in a span of 12 minutes from Tomas Tatar, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Jordan Weal gave the Habs their first lead of the game, carrying a 3-2 advantage into the final period in regulation.
With the crowd keeping up its energy, Haula’s first goal since Nov. 1, 2018 marked his successful return from injury (missing 67 games) and tied the game at three goals apiece.
Time to Surge
While the Canadiens controlled possession for much of the five-minute overtime period, Mrazek’s ability to turn away point-blanks shots, three during that span, allowed Carolina the opportunity to queue the eventual shootout finish with Hamilton’s lone goal.
“We looked like the team we wanted to be in the third,” Haula said.
“It was pretty clear, it (second period) wasn’t good enough. I think we all knew it; we just needed a spark. It’s the start of the year. It’s obvious there’s gonna be a little rust and mistakes are going to be made, but you gotta learn and keep goin’ every shift and try to get a little better.”
Notables: Carolina finished 1-3 on the power play…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 2-3…Wallmark’s goal was his third game-opening marker of his career. Last season, Carolina posted an 8-1-0 record when Wallmark scored a goal…The Canes’ overtime record in season-openers extended to four straight, having lost three previously (2-1 OT – NYI 2018, 5-4 SO – MIN 2017, 5-4 OT – WPG 2016).
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