Jakub Voracek is 5th in the NHL in points. He and the Philadelphia Flyers
paid the Carolina Hurricanes a visit Saturday afternoon. After the ‘Canes got hammered 6-1 by the Florida Panthers Thursday night, many wondered if they would come to play, or had essentially hung up the skates for the final two weeks.
The Flyers were fresh off a 4-1 victory over the injury-laden Pittsburgh Penguins. Would Voracek go off and have a huge game? The hate Flyers fans have for the Penguins is evident in this – one of many Tweets that filled up the #NHLFlyers feed.
— Jake W. (@JWise39) April 4, 2015
Flyers fans could care less that they lost to the Hurricanes Saturday, just that the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Pens. Rivalries are awesome.
Is there “bad hockey?”
In a game that highlighted both teams’ distance from the playoffs, the expression, “bad hockey is better than no hockey” initially came to mind. The game started with both teams playing rather sloppily, and chasing the puck often. This went on for nearly half of the first period.
Then Elias Lindholm scored for the Hurricanes at the 11:00 mark of the first period.
He was assisted by the Staals – Jordan and Eric. Flyers goalie Ray Emery had slid to his right and Lindholm lifted the puck into the area left open as he slid back to his left. It was a relief to see the Staal brothers get involved in the game early. The top line for the ‘Canes has not been living up to their expectations all year-long.
Hurricanes Head Coach Bill Peters liked what he saw out of his top line. After the game Peters said,
“That line was good, eh? They got us on the board early and had other good looks.”
Even with the early lead. the play was not crisp. Two Hurricanes power play opportunities were essentially squandered by glaringly poor passing and puck possession.
The pace picked up for both teams at the start of the second period. At 16.33, Jordan Staal made a nice steal and drove it in on Ray Emery who could do nothing but watch the puck go into the net.
As Emery fell slowly backwards, the goal served to fuel the Hurricanes’ intensity, as they were playing noticeably with more energy.
At 7:56 the Flyers got their first power play opportunity of the game, on a hooking penalty by Alexander Semin. More often than not, it seems that the only time Semin’s name is called is for a penalty. Goals are not in the picture.
Big mo and a nap
The Flyers’ passing was much better than was that of the ‘Canes on their previous two attempts with the man advantage, and it let to a power play goal at 9:46. Sean Couturier launched the puck and Michael Raffl’s net-front deflection slipped past Cam Ward.
The Flyers were now playing with an energy that had eluded them previously in the game. Momentum had shifted. Ray Emery had seemed a bit cautious after getting scored on twice, but the Flyers goal seemed to helped him focus. Still no Voracek, however.
The period ended with no further scoring or penalties. With the exception of the three goals, the game was pretty much a back and forth affair, with the temptation to doze off quite prevalent.
The third period was by far the most entertaining, at least the last few minutes were anyway. Sean Couturier, who had initially been credited with the Flyers’ first goal, did get on the board at with 1:50 left in the game.
Michal Jordan whiffed on a bouncing puck, and Couturier whipped it past Cam Ward to tie the game. It felt eerily like so many games where the ‘Canes just could not finish.
The extra point
The game went into overtime where the Flyers peppered goalie Cam Ward several times, but he held firm. In the shootout that followed the scoreless overtime, Voracek was shut down by Ward.
Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry scored in the shootout for the ‘Canes and Nick Cousins made one for the Flyers and Carolina got the extra point.
It was very nice to see Jordan Staal with a goal and an assist in this game. He was the game’s first star:
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 4, 2015
If Bill Peters can figure out how to get consistent production out of his top line next season, the Hurricanes might have a chance at making the playoffs. If everybody is back, if he can get them to play consistently, if if if…
Jakub Voracek and the Flyers face the Penguins again Sunday. Nothing would thrill the fans of the Flyers more than to somehow spoil the Penguins’ playoff hopes. It will definitely be a game worth watching.
The Hurricanes have a three-game roadie next week, including a game against the Flyers. They wind their season up Saturday at home against the Detroit Red Wings. It will be an exciting week as the season winds down. Playoff hockey is upon us, and there is nothing like it in all of sports.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.