Sometimes, you have to just sit back and enjoy the ride, even if there are some bumps along the way.
So it was Tuesday for Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters during an 8-6 win over the Vancouver Canucks, in a game at PNC Arena that was wildly entertaining if stressful for a coach.
Did Peters like seeing this team give up six goals? Never, and not the way the Canucks scored them, all too easily getting to the front of the net.
Did Peters like seeing a barrage of six goals by the Canes in the third period and a comeback win? You know the answer to that. As most coaches would say, there are no bad victories.
Peters was hard-pressed to remember a game quite like it. Not in the NHL, he said. Not in his days coaching in the American Hockey League.
After another beat, Peters said, “It was 1987, a 9-8 game against the Czechs in the Viking Cup. That’s the last time I’ve seen it.”
Peters may have been off by a year. The Viking Cup, an international tournament of junior and university teams once held in Camrose, Alberta, was played in 1986 and ’88 and Peters’ old team, the Red Deer College Kings, were in the ’88 tournament.
But Peters’ point was well-taken. It’s not the kind of hockey game often seen and not the kind hockey coaches particularly enjoy, not to mention the goalies and defensemen left singed.
As Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said, “It’s a lot of goals to give up.”
The Canes gave up four in the second period. The Canucks went to the locker room with a 5-2 lead and the Canes to their room brooding a bit but also knowing they would start the third period on a power play after a careless holding penalty by Vancouver’s Alex Burrows as the second period was ending.
Jeff Skinner scored on that power play, his second power-play goal of the game. The fuse was lit for Carolina. Canes defenseman Ron Hainsey winged a shot from outside, the puck seemingly going through and around every skater on the ice before landing in the Canucks’ net.
Suddenly, 11,721 fans sounded like 21,721 fans and the hits kept on coming for the Canucks.
“I don’t know if we got rattled,” Desjardins said. “I think they have a pretty good power play. You don’t want to give up that early one, though, to get them excited and get them going.
“And then the next one was just a shot from the point that found its way in and then all of a sudden they got lots of momentum.”
Canes center Jordan Staal called it “blood in the water” at that point. The Canes could smell it, sense it – a comeback in the making.
Victor Rask scored. Justin Faulk scored. Staal scored. Finally, Lee Stempniak with an empty netter.
Carolina’s six goals in the third were the Canes’ most in a period since March 7, 2009, when they had six in the second period in a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay. The Canes’ eight goals were the most since an 8-5 win over the Lightning on April 6, 2010.
“We can score,” Peters said. “Now we have to get back to defending properly.”
After sitting out the past seven games with a concussion, Staal returned to play almost 17 minutes and finished with a goal and assist. His first shift was a strong one and long one, with a good forecheck followed by a race down to the defensive zone. Staal was out 1:32 on the shift before making it back to the bench.
“That killed him,” Peters said, smiling. “I was hoping they would get a puck to the net and there would be a whistle, because that’s tough. There were a couple of times he was looking at the bench. He changed one time when they had the puck. You don’t see that very often.”
Or a game like Tuesday’s game. In an 8-6 win, at least for a night, all is forgiven by the coach, who enjoyed the ride.