Flyers goalie Brian Elliott started for the first time since he was injured in a shootout against the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 10. He wasn’t as busy as he could have been, since the Hurricanes had only 22 shots on net. Given his start, it’s clear that coach Dave Hakstol is looking to make sure Elliott is ready to go by playoffs, should the Flyers secure a berth.
Philadelphia clearly dominated the first period, spending most of it in the offensive zone with 15 shots to Carolina’s seven. However, Klas Dahlbeck’s first goal of the season came in clutch in the second half of the period to open the scoring. This goal came off a beautiful drop pass from Jeff Skinner and a secondary assist from Derek Ryan, which extended Ryan’s point streak to six consecutive games.
Brock McGinn continued to make his presence known, as he’s done all season. He drew a tripping call on Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny (although, he was also called for embellishment on the same play, which is always a your-mileage-may-vary call), and got a breakaway chance right out of the box.
Trevor van Riemsdyk has looked good over the past few games, but tonight he screened his own goalie Scott Darling, which allowed Michael Raffl to tie up the game. Fourteen seconds later, Sebastian Aho scored his 29th goal of the season, allowing the Canes to carry a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
While the second period was far quieter in terms of scoring, it still saw tempers flaring between the two teams. A scrum erupted in front of the Canes bench about halfway through the period with Noah Hanifin at the center. It only broke up after Skinner was penalised for interference on Brandon Manning. Manning was also sent to the box on a slashing call, and we got our second 4-on-4 of the night.
Aho’s influence was seen during this entire 4-on-4, almost getting his 30th goal on a chance that was foiled by the post. He then drew a high-sticking penalty from Jakub Voracek to give the Hurricanes the only power play of the night for either team. This penalty came after a delayed call, during which the Canes set up a proper power play after pulling Darling. It looked good up until Jaccob Slavin took a slap shot, breaking his stick in the process and triggering the penalty call.
The Canes were unable to convert on a power play that was representative of the entire game, creating only one shot on goal during the entire two-minute man advantage. Ivan Provorov tied the game with five minutes left to go in the period, which prevented the Canes from taking their lead into the second intermission.
The third period looked a lot like the first, with back and forth scoring despite Philadelphia’s clear dominance of the ice. Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux scored the go-ahead goal on a bad Hurricanes line change, but Jordan Staal sent the puck ricocheting off Elliott and in to tie the game back up with six minutes left to go in the game. Half a minute later, however, Voracek scored the eventual game-winning goal by waiting in front of Darling.
The Hurricanes had a good push through the rest of the period, but it wasn’t enough to catch up. They failed to score on a sequence when Elliott appeared to have lost a puck that was right in front of him.
Flyers won 4-3 and got within one point of securing a playoff berth. The Hurricanes play their final game of the season on Saturday at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A few thoughts from around the Canes world over the past few days:
- No official word yet, but coach Bill Peters is probably going to coach Team Canada at the World Championships in June. So far, no Hurricane has been confirmed to attend. However, it’ll be interesting to see what Peters does with players like Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mat Barzal. They all provide bona fide star power that we don’t necessarily see here in Raleigh – Aho is the closest we’ve got.
- Speaking of Peters and Aho: when asked about Aho potentially reaching the 30 goal mark earlier today, Peters commented on how faceoffs might be a problem for him tonight.
Asked Hurricanes coach Bill Peters about Sebastian Aho possibly getting to 30 goals. He had some interesting comments about Aho doing well in the middle but needing to get better on faceoffs pic.twitter.com/E3otl1x2rl
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) April 5, 2018
Submissiveness isn’t exactly a trait anyone would attribute to a firebrand like Sebastian Aho, so naturally this raised a lot of eyebrows. For what it’s worth, Aho won four of eleven faceoffs tonight for a FO% of 36 percent, which was a bit lower than his career average of 47 percent. He went 50 percent in the two faceoffs he took against older Finns (Valtteri Filppula and Jori Lehtera). The Hurricanes’ locker room doesn’t seem especially friendly to the Finns, as they aren’t even allowed to speak Finnish to each other in the room. Maybe the team’s scoring leaders should be treated with more respect off the ice.