The Carolina Hurricanes’ annual Red-White scrimmage Sunday at PNC Arena was missing many of the lineup regulars.
Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Justin Faulk, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner were among the players who put in an early practice at the arena, signed autographs for fans at the Caniac Carnival and had the rest of the day off.
But forwards Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm played. So did forward Andrej Nestrasil, who was on a line with Derek Ryan and Chris Terry and helped the White team emerge with a 4-3 overtime victory.
Several of the players in the scrimmage competed for the Canes in the recent Traverse City (Mich.) prospects tournament. And after the scrimmage, the team announced that eight players had been reassigned to their respective junior teams – their training camp quickly coming to an end.
“I’m actually glad I got to play today,” said Nestrasil, who scored a second-period goal. “The guys who played at Traverse City already have some games in. You can see they had practiced the system a little longer and they were in the right spots.
“I was happy to play at that pace and try a couple of things. It’s a little different when you play a real exhibition game. I’m glad I got to play instead of practicing.”
Defenseman Noah Hanifin, the Canes’ first-round draft pick this year, was forced to miss the Traverse City event because of a wrist injury. But Hanifin, paired with Rasmus Rissanen, displayed some smooth skating and puck-handling in the scrimmage, scoring a first-period goal for the Red team after carrying the puck up ice and into the offensive zone.
“For me, it’s been a while since I played in a fast-paced game like that,” Hanifin said. “Obviously it’s just a few days into camp and guys are trying to figure out the system, but it’s always fun to be out there and compete and play hockey.”
Canes coach Bill Peters noted Saturday he had not seen Hanifin, in person, play a five-on-five game. His wait ended Sunday.
“I liked him a lot,” Peters said. “I thought he made real smart plays, just real smart, subtle plays. Now I get to see him in an NHL exhibition, which is even better.”
The Hurricanes will practice Monday, then fly to Washington to face the Capitals in a preseason game at Verizon Center. On Tuesday, they’ll be in Pittsburgh for an exhibition game against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
Ryan scored in the first minute of the scrimmage, misfiring on a shot in tight but collecting the puck and beating goalie Drew MacIntyre. The center, a free-agent signee who was the MVP last season in the Swedish Hockey League, later had a partial breakaway but was stopped by MacIntrye.
“Ryan was involved a lot,” Peters said. “I thought he had good chances.”
Hanifin’s goal tied it 1-1 for the Red, but forward Lucas Wallmark and Nestrasil scored to push the White ahead 3-1 after two periods. Goals by forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Brody Sutter in the third period tied the score for the Red.
The teams then played five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime. Brendan Woods scored on a Nicholas Roy pass off the rush midway through the OT for the deciding goal.
Rask and Lindholm played on a line with Brad Malone, and like Nestrasil will be in the Canes’ lineup on opening night Oct. 8 against Nashville.
“But you’ve got to prove that you belong here every single day and prove to people you deserve this crest on your chest,” Nestrasil said. “No one is taking anything for granted.”
NOTE: The players returned to junior teams Sunday were forwards Clark Bishop, Steven Lorentz, Niki Petti, Nicolas Roy and Spencer Smallman; defensemen Kyle Jenkins and Josh Wesley; and goaltender Callum Booth. The camp roster was reduced to 49 players.