RALEIGH, N.C. – The word stressful was mentioned in Rod Brind’Amour’s scrum following the pregame skate on Friday.
The Carolina Hurricanes coach more-or-less alluded to the fact that expectations are high to qualify for the postseason.
Sitting four points out of an NHL Eastern Conference wildcard spot, the concern justified and the response was swift.
The Hurricanes put together an impressive effort against the New Jersey Devils, a 5-2 finish that included timely saves in net and hard-working and well-orchestrated goal scoring.
Birthday boy Petr Mrazek was a wall in net as described by Brind’Amour, complimenting his goalie’s 36-save performance in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena.
Led by Nino Niederreiter’s game-opening marker, four other Hurricanes – Warren Foegele, Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, and Joel Edmundson – contributed to the cause at the other end.
“It was a better game for us; not great, but we came up big at the right times,” Brind’Amour said.
“When the game was tight, the start wasn’t great and then all of a sudden we get a big goal to kinda get us moving in the right direction.”
The line of Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen put together one of the cleanest and efficient passing and scoring displays of the season to put Carolina ahead 3-1 at the 13:46 mark of the second period.
Not a surprise that line continued to produce as it has in recent games, but more significant was the Canes’ first two goals from Niederreiter and Foegele.
Scoring has been spotty and/or MIA for long stretches from those two.
Niederreiter’s eighth goal of the season was only his second in his last 10 games played.
Foegele hadn’t scored in 12 games, so his 11th marker ended that drought while establishing a new career high.
Contributions from bother players will be critical during this playoff push.
“It was a big game for myself and our team,” Niederreiter said.
“We know we have 25 games left in the season. We have to do whatever it takes to get there and make the playoffs.”
Keeping it simple, complete
Devils netminder Louis Domingue faced 31 shots but couldn’t deny opportunities Carolina created with the traffic in front of him.
Even while being outshot by the Devils, the Hurricanes tried to keep it simple according to Niederreiter.
“I think that’s exactly what we did early on,” he said.
“We got pucks in deep and we made plays when we were there and got pucks to the net most of the time. Petr made some ginormous saves for us.”
Defenseman Brett Pesce who tallied two points on the night thought it was as complete a game that Carolina has played in a while.
“Probably was from what I can remember in long time,” Pesce noted.
“We needed that one for sure.”
Even while earning a critical two points, Pesce pointed out that the stress of the situation his team is in wasn’t entirely relieved.
“It’s still there to be honest,” he concluded.
“It’s just one game. We gotta find ways to play like that every night”
Notables: Carolina finished 0-2 on the power play, 37-171 (21.6%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 4-4, 167-202 (82.7%) overall… With his goal and assist, Necas reached 31 points (15g, 16a) through 53 games played this season. Among all NHL rookies he now ranks fourth in goals, seventh in assists and sixth in points…In addition to establishing a new career high in goals, Foegele also established career marks in assists (15) and points (26) in 2019-20.
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