RALEIGH, N.C. – If you ask Rod Brind’Amour, the power play has been a difference-maker in vaulting the Carolina Hurricanes to an impressive three-game start.
While it was Jaccob Slavin’s one-timer into the top corner that finished off the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime at PNC Arena on Sunday, it was the Hurricanes’ man-up unit that put them into a position to succeed.
Trailing 3-1 after the first period, subsequent power play goals from Eric Haula and Dougie Hamilton pulled the teams even with 7:12 remaining in regulation time.
A turnover caused by captain Jordan Staal eventually delivered the assist that won the game in extra time.
“That might be the difference in the game right now, is we’re gettin’ a special teams goal here and there,” Brind’Amour said.
“It gets you back in the game, right? That’s the right time. Special teams can be huge. Kill a penalty at the right time – they had a chance to go up 4-1 and we killed that penalty and keeps you in the game. Obviously, gettin’ the power play goal gets you right back in the game.”
Haula on fire
Since recovering from a knee injury and missing 67 games last season, newly acquired forward Eric Haula has fit in nicely and ignited Carolina’s offense, scoring in each of the team’s first three games.
He was asked what it was about the attitude of this team that’s gotten it off to such a good start.
“Resiliency – a lot of belief in the locker room,” was how Haula described the Hurricanes ability to come from behind and claim a shootout win and back-to-back overtime wins.
“We know we’re good. We just gotta put it together. When we play well, we’re a good team.”
Mrazek continues to shut it down
While not looking sharp on sniped goals from Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Steven Stamkos on 11 shots to start the game, goaltender Petr Mrazek and the Canes defense shut the Lightning out in the second period and allowed only two more, 13 shots total for the game.
How did they do it?
“It starts with everybody battling in the faceoff dot, getting the puck and going from there,” Haula stated.
“It’s going good, we just gotta keep on grinding.”
Defense wins games – at both ends
Usually keeping the puck out of your net leads to opportunity to score goals.
Against former Hurricanes keeper Curtis McElhinney who faced 44 shots, it was the defense that also scored as Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, and Slavin all tallied markers on the night.
It made up for falling behind early.
“We gotta learn not to put ourselves in those holes,” Slavin said.
“Play a stronger first two periods, so we don’t have to rely on the third period to always be coming from behind. Definitely a confidence builder for our group and hopefully we continue on that path.”
As much as remaining undefeated and getting off to a good start is exhilarating, there are 79 games to go.
A sold out crowd on Thursday and 14,125 in attendance on Sunday have really enjoyed the enhanced game experience and seeing such closely contested match-ups only heightens expectations.
A word of caution.
“It’s only three games – there’s a lot of hockey left,” Haula pointed out.
“I think the take out of this is that we’ve got a good team. We know how we should play and set that standard for each other, hold each other accountable up to that standard, and we’ll be fine.”
Notables: Carolina finished 2-5 on the power play, 4-23 (33.3%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 3-4, 11-13 (84.6%) overall…The Hurricanes have scored a power play goal in all three games so far and forward Teuvo Teravainen has assisted on all four extra-man markers…Haula is the sixth player in franchise history to score in each of the team’s first three games and first to do so in his first year with the club.
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