|@ Hurricanes (0-2-0)||0||1||3||4|
The Panthers got off to a quick start in the 1st period after Reilly Smith got in on the forecheck in the offensive zone and caused a turnover. After the puck settled down, it found Brandon Pirri who then fed it to Brian Campbell at the point. Campbell made a quick pass to Nick Bjugstad in the slot, he sniped the puck top-shelf while falling down to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Nathan Gerbe got a quality chance for the Hurricanes after he broke in on a breakaway while shorthanded, but put the puck wide of the net. Quinton Howden just missed scoring in his season debut shortly after as the Panthers’ 4th-line put some pressure on in the offensive zone, but his shot just trickled wide right of Eddie Lack. The Hurricanes got their first power play of the night after a questionable interference call, and although they got some good shots towards the net, all were stopped by Al Montoya who looked sharp throughout the first period.
The Panthers went back on the power play a bit later, but were kept to the perimeter for most of the man-advantage. The final 5 minutes of the period were mostly back and forth aside from Reilly Smith and Brandon Pirri breaking in on a 2-on-1 which was stopped by Lack. The Panthers controlled the play in the first period and got their forecheck going early. They were getting their shots on goal which they weren’t doing last night. The trio of Howden, MacKenzie, and Brickley was working incredibly hard for space on the ice and they were cycling the puck well in the offensive zone.
The Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr line picked up where they left off from last season and dominated possession during their first shift of the period. On the very next shift, Reilly Smith got in on another 2-on-1 with Nick Bjugstad, but Lack was able to stop Smith who toe-dragged the puck around the defender. Shortly after, Connor Brickley received a Derek MacKenzie pass, skating in over the blue-line, and ripped a wrist shot top-left behind Eddie Lack, but just before the puck left Brickley’s stick, the referee whistled for a penalty on the Hurricanes even though they never touched puck. The goal was disallowed and Brickley would go on to get a called for tripping after his stick inadvertently got caught in the skates of Kris Versteeg as he worked down low for the puck. Barkov then got in on a mini-breakaway and attempted his patented backhand move after some good work by Brickley and Huberdeau, but was denied by Eddie Lack. Elias Lindholm tied things up at 1 soon after following a failed clearing attempt by the Panthers. The puck was fed to Lindholm in the high-slot and he one-timed it past Al Montoya.
The Hurricanes got a handful of chances towards the end of the period as Brickley and Bolland found themselves in the box less than 4 minutes apart. Montoya made a timely save with about 20 seconds left in the period on a Jeff Skinner wrist shot after he skated in wide and got past the Panthers defensemen. All things considered, the Hurricanes tied all the knots they left loose in the 1st period and made this a game heading into the 3rd period.
The beginning of the third period was filled with continuous, back-and-forth play. Reilly Smith found Vincent Trocheck skating up the left wing and he made a cross-ice pass to Dave Bolland who was handcuffed and couldn’t get a full shot on net before falling into the boards. Al Montoya faced a few slapshots from the blue-line and gloved them all with ease. Soon after, the puck was bouncing in front of the net and Montoya somehow darted his right leg out to stop Jeff Skinner from scoring. The Panthers came alive with just under 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd period after Connor Brickley scored his first NHL goal thanks to a Dmitry Kulikov backhander that rebounded to the front of the crease. Fifty seconds later, Jaromir Jagr entered the offensive zone, shot the puck at Eddie Lack, and Aleksander Barkov was there to tap the puck into the net after it trickled through. Jussi Jokinen sealed the deal with an empty-netter at 19:13 of the 3rd period, giving the Panthers 3 goals in 5 minutes of play.
Overall, the Panthers did a lot of things right tonight. They put more pucks on net, forcing Eddie Lack to make saves, and their forecheck was alive and well after a rough game in Philadelphia. They didn’t give up after the Hurricanes tied things up either, but rather continued to fight and put pucks towards the net, and that’s exactly how Connor Brickley scored in the 3rd. The defense was strong as well, including Alex Petrovic, Erik Gudbranson, and Dmitry Kulikov. All three were physical, blocked shots on the penalty kill, and broke up scoring chances throughout the game.
Nick Bjugstad scored his 2nd goal of the season, and Connor Brickley continued his strong physical play and he was rewarded with his first NHL goal after working hard in front of the Hurricanes’ net. Reilly Smith has been very engaged in the offensive zone and showed that with his 1st assist (3rd point), while his line-mate Brandon Pirri tallied his 3rd assist in as many games. Aleksander Barkov tallied his 3rd point in as many nights after scoring tonight in the 3rd period and Jaromir Jagr matched the 20-year-old’s point total with an assist. Al Montoya was strong in net stopping 22 of 23 shots, and Jussi Jokinen’s goal was his 2nd of the year. The Panthers have allowed just 1 goal in each of their first 3 games of the season while scoring a total of 11.
The Panthers will be heading home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at 7:00pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of the game.