The Carolina Hurricanes are still riding the wave.
That’s what forward Nino Niederreiter said the plan was for their Thursday game against the Boston Bruins. Play hard, play smart, do all the little things right and “ride the wave” to another victory.
The Canes, with goaltender Frederik Andersen still standing in front of the net and making 33 saves, pushed the Bruins back 3-0 at PNC Arena to take their record to 6-0, the best start in franchise history.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour had labeled it “the big game,” given that it was the Bruins, who owned the series of the season before the pandemic and who knocked the Canes out of the playoffs. Stanley Cup 2019 and 2020.
How did the Canes react? If Brind’Amour had an optimistic scenario in mind before the game, it was played out.
It starts with Andersen, called “the rock for sure” by Canes captain Jordan Staal. He won a sixth consecutive game, his 20th career shutout, was once again unfazed in front of the net and added an assist, the 10th of his career.
Defender Tony DeAngelo evenly scored in the first period and Niederreiter found the net on a power play in the second period. Andrei Svechnikov’s scoring into an empty net in the last minute of regulation has allowed him to score six goals this season and extend his points streak to six games with Sebastian Aho assisting on goal.
The Canes penalty killers were in their place. The Bruins had 5-on-3 advantages twice, but Carolina’s hustle and bustle – and Andersen’s calm play at the net – kept Boston at bay as Canes fans in the crowd of 16,093 roared with each victory.
“It’s the game,” Brind’Amour told the media. “It was a really pivotal moment and we got a lot of effort from the guys who were there. And obviously Freddie was great.
The Bruins (3-3-0), who tormented the Canes on the power play in their Stanley Cup playoff wins, went 0-5 on the power play on Thursday.
“Our penalty was unreal,” DeAngelo told media. “They have been great all year. We’ve seen guys win face-offs, block shots, good sticks. They are doing a great job.
Andersen was named the game’s first star, lowering his goals against average to 1.33 and improving his save percentage to .956 for the season.
Andersen became the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win each of a team’s first six games at the start of the season and Canes fans chanted aloud “Fred-die, Fred-die” after the match. Another piece of history: he is the second to join a new team and win the first six of a season, tying the record set by Frank McCool with Toronto in 1944-1945.
“I don’t really care about that stuff,” Andersen said. “I’m just happy to win. That’s our goal every night and that’s what matters.
Canes defenseman Ethan Bear hit Boston’s Brad Marchand in the neutral zone four seconds into the game. This set the tone for the night, signaling that it would be a big boy’s game.
It was a game where hits came often – 42 in the opening period, 75 overall – and open ice was hard to come by. The team pushed and probed, looking for openings.
DeAngelo found one. He bombarded a left point shot that Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman couldn’t keep up, netting his first goal with the Canes and the first by a Carolina defenseman this season at 3:16 pm to the first.
On the power play in the second period, Niederreiter attempted a cross pass to Martin Necas but the puck slipped through Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort in the pocket and passed Swayman.
It was a busy night for Niederreiter. Playing on the Staal trio with Jesper Fast, he helped muzzle the dangerous Bruins’ top trio centered by Patrice Bergeron.
Andersen was put to the test early when Boston’s Jake DeBrusk broke in alone in the first period. There were a few offensive bursts from the Bruins in front of the net in the second, but Andersen kept his composure and position and pushed the puck away, and continued his regular play in the third.
Prior to Thursday, the Bruins had taken points in 18 of the last 19 games against Carolina, going 13-1-5. The Canes ‘last regular season win over the Bruins a 5-3 win at PNC Arena on December 23, 2018 and not in Carolina shirts – it was the Hartford Whalers’ first retro night at PNC Arena and Canes donned the whale.
Andersen became the first Canes goaltender to start six straight games since Cam Ward was in goal for 11 straight in October 2009. With Carolina facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday to complete their first straight game of the season, Does Brind ‘Amour stay with Andersen?
“Maybe. We’ll see,” Brind’Amour said with a hint of a smile.
This story was originally published October 28, 2021 9:42 pm.