RALEIGH, N.C. – There was reason for celebration at PNC Arena on New Year’s Eve.
In front of another sell out crowd, their second against the Montreal Canadiens this season, the Carolina Hurricanes posted a 3-1 win, their second in as many games, to end the 2019 calendar year.
Led by goals from Sebastian Aho, Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel, Carolina kept pace against a tenacious Montreal squad that put goaltender Charlie Lindgren in net to face 35 shots in his first start of the season.
Hurricanes starter Petr Mrazek made 29 saves in the winning effort.
It only took the Hurricanes a few minutes for Aho to bat in a rebound off Lingren’s pad to take a 1-0 lead on the power play.
Coming off Haula’s shot attempt in-close, the play finished with a quick stick swipe and the puck denting the twine for Aho’s 23rd goal of the season which was confirmed following a video review.
With the crowd ignited, the Habs quieted it down quickly as Max Domi tallied his 12th goal, unassisted, at the 3:48 mark.
The forward picked the puck off Teuvo Teravainen’s stick in the Canes zone and sniped the puck high over Mrazek’s trapper to even the score at 1-1.
“Things happen, the game’s quick, I made a little mistake,” Teravainen explained afterwards.
“I didn’t have much time to make a play. They scored, but I gotta focus on the next shift and I played better after.”
While outshot 13-8 in the second period, Carolina managed to escape without any goals against thanks to Mrazek’s acrobatic work in the crease.
Teravainen soon made up for his earlier miscue and put together an impressive set-up to Haula that gave the Hurricanes the lead at 7:34.
Playing in his 400th career NHL game, the shifty Finn found the open ice in the Montreal zone and skated through the slot before sliding the puck forward to pinching defenseman Brett Pesce.
A backhand pass from left to right through Lindgren’s crease found Haula open to finish the play.
“Turbo made a great play at the blue line,” Haula noted.
“Good patience – waited for guys to come and then that led to me to be so open.”
“If he’s not one of our most valuable players, I don’t know who is,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour added in describing Teravainen’s value to the Hurricanes.
“He’s a special player for us.”
Haula doing what he can
Scoring his 11th goal and second game-winner in just 21 games played this season, as an aggravated knee injury continues to limit his practice time, Haula’s presence was and has been critical to the team’s success so far.
“Yeah, it feels good. That’s the goal every night, to show up and play at your best,” Haula said.
“I think in general my line’s been playing better and creating chances.”
“He’s done an incredible job all year,” Brind’Amour added.
“He missed a month there. He really solidifies our lineup. That line has been really effective all year and especially now that he’s back. He’s banged up a little bit, but I think he’ll get better and better as he gets his speed up. He’s missed so much time. He’s a big part of what we’re doin’.”
Almost evened up, but no
Carolina carried the 2-1 lead into the third period until the 11:52 mark when Ryan Poehling evened it up for the Canadiens.
However, with Phillip Danault in the crease on the play, a challenge by Brind’Amour was successful in denying the score due to goaltender interference.
“To me it’s clear we didn’t push him in,” he said.
“That was the whole key of it. I figure we had to challenge it. To me that’s the right call – their guy didn’t slow down going to the net.”
The Hurricanes survived any remaining attempts by Montreal to push the game to overtime, killing off their third penalty of the game.
Dzingel capped off the win with an empty-netter after serving the penalty.
As the current home stand continues, Carolina is taking it all “one day at a time” according to Haula.
“Just understanding what we need to do to win. It’s a very fine line like we’ve seen lately. When we bring it, we’re tough to beat and when we’re off, it’s tough for us to get some points. That’s the mentality in the locker room and how we have to play.”
Notables: Carolina finished 1-2 on the power play, 30-126 (23.8%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 3-3, 120-146 (82.2%) overall… Aho’s goal marked the first time this season Carolina’s three Finns (along with Haula and Teravainen) all factored into the scoring on the same goal. Aho and Teravainen have combined on the same goal 17 times this season, and either Aho or Teravainen have recorded a point on 59 of the Hurricanes’ 134 goals in 2019-20 (44.0%)… In tallying a goal and assist, Haula has registered six points (3g, 3a) in five games since returning from injury.
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