RALEIGH, N.C. – There was reason to celebrate the end of 2018 at PNC Arena on Monday night.
Yes, it was New Year’s Eve, so everyone was screaming and shouting anyway, but even more so following a 3-1 Carolina Hurricanes win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The volume level of the 16,644 in attendance increased as each period of play progressed, and particularly following well-placed shots and resultant goals.
No softies were recorded on this night.
Lucas Wallmark, Jordan Martinook, and Andrei Svechnikov all bulged the twine as Carolina posted its first win its last three games since a 5-3 win over Boston on Dec. 23.
A 22-save performance from goalkeeper Curtis McElhinney gave him his eighth win of the season as only Jakub Voracek ruined a near-flawless performance.
“I think the game didn’t feel much different from the games we have been playing all year,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We have had good goaltending all year and that was the same tonight – we just got a couple of goals.”
Both teams came into the first matchup of four they’ll play this season with identical 15-17-5 records, and a desire to create a spark to begin the New Year with.
All three Canes tallies were exceptional shots that overwhelmed Flyers starting netminder Carter Hart who made seven stops on 10 shots before being replaced by Michal Neuvirth at the 2:19 mark of the second period.
Wallmark lit the fuse midway during the opening period as his wrist shot from the high slot handcuffed Hart as he watched the puck snap the nylon back over his glove hand.
“That was a great shot,” Brind’Amour said.
“Nobody expected that. He doesn’t usually rip ‘em like that. It was obviously a perfect shot, bar down.”
The Hurricanes quickly added to their lead right off the opening faceoff in the second as Martinook and Svechnikov scored goals just over two minutes apart.
Martinook’s solo drive off the draw from the neutral zone split the Flyers D before beating Hart just six seconds in – a franchise record.
“I just wanted to get a jump off the draw,” Martinook said in describing the lead-up to his ninth goal of the season.
“I’d seen their D-men move up and got by ‘em and got a shot on net. I think it went off his glove, but I’ll take that.”
“That’s probably the goal of the game,” Brind’Amour added.
“They’re starting a period four seconds on the power play, they’re not thinking that’s gonna happen – nobody is. Maybe caught ‘em sleepin’ a little bit. That was huge. He’s ready to play. He jumped through and made a play. That was a big turning point in the game.”
After Svechnikov claimed his 11th of the season and gave Carolina a 3-0 advantage at the 2:19 mark, Neuvirth came in to stop the bleeding in the Philadelphia net.
He did his part in stopping all 23 shots he faced for the remainder of the game.
Voracek’s 10th of the season at 2:38 into the third gave many wearing orange, black and white some hope of a comeback and really increased the noise level in the building.
Both teams floundered on the power play, each finishing 0-for-2 with the man-advantage, but that didn’t diminish any exuberant behavior in the stands which included some being escorted to the exits early.
Even as the Flyers pressed a few more times to pull closer, the Hurricanes finalized the win as part of captain Justin Williams’ 1200th NHL game played as well as McElhinney’s 200th career contest.
“It was a big win for us and hopefully we can build on that,” Wallmark concluded.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport