Carolina Hurricanes center Lucas Wallmark (71) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period of a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, on October 3, 2019. (Spencer Lee/ Inside Hockey)
RALEIGH NC- The Carolina Hurricanes were back on the ice for their season opener against the Montreal Canadians in front of a sellout crowd in PNC Arena. Carolina is looking to duplicate their success from last year, having reached the Eastern Conference Finals with a 46-29-7 record. The rowdy Caniacs were in for a wild night as both teams went to war in their opening game of the season.
In the first period, the Canes came out red hot on both sides of the puck. They accumulated 10 shots on goal with one hitting the back of the net, while holding Montreal to zero scores on 13 attempts. Lucas Wallmark would secure the first goal of the season for the Canes in a scrummage near the net. He would be assisted by Brett Pesce. Pesce is looking to increase his assist total from last year after a career-high 22 assists in the 2018-2019 season. The Canes would end the period 1-0 with all of the momentum on their side.
However, it would be a different story in the second period as Montreal would take advantage of Carolina’s defensive struggles. Tomas Tatar would secure Montreal’s first goal of the game off the power-play. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jordan Weal would also score for the Canadiens, shifting the momentum of the game. Carolina however, scored one goal on the power-play in the period by Martin Necas. He would be assisted by Dougie Hamilton and Teuvo Teravainen. The period would end with Montreal up 3-2 with one period remaining.
The final period brought the best out of both defenses, specifically on Carolina’s side of the ice. Petr Mrazek, starting goalie for the Canes, would play perfect after his poor performance in the second, allowing Carolina to tie the game. Erik Haula, formally from the Las Vegas Knights, would obtain the game tying goal off of a wrist shot to go 3-3 with 13:00 minutes left in the third. Even with momentum back on the home team, the Canes nor the Canadiens could pick up the game winning goal, leaving the teams to battle in overtime.
The five minute overtime would produce high drama but no goals to go along with both teams. After going 65 minutes in play, the season opener would be decided in a shootout, prompting the 18,680 in attendance to be in a frenzy. On the very first attempt for Carolina, Hamilton would secure the only score in the entire shootout. Mrazek would play lights out, redeeming himself from earlier in the game.The score would read 4-3 as the Canes rallied to beat the Canadiens in front of a sellout crowd in Raleigh.
As the Canes start their season off with a win, they face the Washington Capitals away on Saturday the fifth and the Tampa Bay Lighting in Raleigh the very next day. As for now, Carolina looked impressive in victory, however mistakes linger as a new NHL season begins for the Raleigh club.