The Carolina Hurricanes avoided disaster on Tuesday night as they were able to get a key 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in overtime after seeing their early 2-0 lead disappear. Hurricanes forward Martin Necas got an opening late in the overtime and took full advantage, finding the net to give Carolina a crucial two points. The Hurricanes came out firing on all cylinders early to grab a 2-0 first-period lead thanks to goals from center Jesperi Kotkaniemi and defenceman Brady Skjei. However, the Senators were able to fight back and eventually tie it up early in the third period, and neither team was able to take advantage of good looks late in the contest leading to overtime.
The Hurricanes need every point they can get right now as they continue to battle the New Jersey Devils for the Metropolitan Division crown. With the win over the Senators, the Hurricanes currently hold a three-point lead (109-106) over the Devils with five games left in the regular season (four for the Devils). Let’s take a look at the three biggest takeaways from the Hurricanes’ 3-2 win.
Kotkaniemi Continues To Impress
Kotkaniemi has continued to play well down the stretch for the Hurricanes after a slow start to the season. His career year continued against the Senators as he was able to find the net early in the contest and also added an assist late in the first period. He now has a career-high 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists) with five games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season. In addition to his much-needed offensive production, he has brought a lot of physicality to the ice over the past few weeks since the loss of forward Andrei Svechnikov.
It was obvious that the Hurricanes would miss Svechnikov’s offense down the stretch, but another possible weakness that was exposed in his absence was the need for a big physical forward in the top six. The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Kotkaniemi has shown the ability to fill this void over the past few weeks, flying around the ice with a strong physical presence at both ends of the ice. This is a welcome sight for Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour with the postseason on the horizon.
Hurricanes Defencemen Continue Producing
After the losses of forwards Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov, the discussions quickly moved to which players would step up to fill these voids, the names that were brought up most were Necas, Kotkaniemi, Teuvo Teravainen, among other forwards. However, the Hurricanes have continued to receive consistent production from several of their defencemen during this period most notably from Brent Burns and Brady Skjei.
Burns leads the team with 43 assists and is third with 57 points on the season, while Skjei is fourth in goals with a career-high 18. The offensive outburst from these two has helped ease the tension left by the absences of Svechnikov and Pacioretty. It will be important for the Hurricanes’ postseason success that the defencemen, led by Burns and Skjei, continue to produce at a high level.
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Metropolitan Division Title Within Reach
This win over the Senators puts the Hurricanes in a prime position to clinch first in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve used a three-game win streak to expand their lead over the Devils to three points, while also holding a game in hand. That winning streak could not have come at a better time as the Hurricanes were on the heels of a three-game losing streak and New Jersey had closed the gap to one point.
Four of the Hurricanes’ remaining five games will be away from PNC Arena against teams that are in desperation mode fighting for the wild card. It will be important for Carolina to not take their foot off the gas down the stretch as they attempt to grab back-to-back Metropolitan Division titles for the first time in franchise history.
|Hurricanes||@ Nashville Predators, @ Buffalo Sabres, @ Senators, vs. Detroit Red Wings, @ Florida Panthers|
|Devils||vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, @ Boston Bruins, vs. Buffalo Sabres, @ Washington Capitals|