Shuffled lines, defensive plan against Oilers’ McDavid key to Canes’ win over Edmonton

Observations from the Carolina Hurricanes’ 7-4 win Sunday over the Edmonton Oilers:

-- Good move by Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour to reconfigure the lines at Saturday’s practice in Raleigh, then stick with them in the game. Nino Niederreiter, in his second game since the trade with Minnesota, was on Sebastian Aho’s line with Justin Williams. The left wing, in his 500th career game, scored 28 seconds into the game and then had another first-period goal with some determined forechecking for a 3-0 lead.

-- Another good move was splitting up defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, looking to have at least one matched against Oilers megastar Connor McDavid. McDavid had two assists but was generally neutralized, finishing with a minus-3 night.

-- Andrei Svechnikov, with a goal and two assists, now is on the score sheet in 2019. The rookie forward had been point-less in nine straight games, his last goal coming Dec. 31 against Philadelphia and his last assist Dec. 14 against Washington. But he was strong with or without the puck Sunday, his impact felt during his first career three-point game.

-- Edmonton’s Zack Kassian sending the Canes’ Jordan Martinook tumbling into the Oilers bench came on a legal hit. But Kassian then leaning over the boards to continue to whack Martinook with his stick was a thuggish move that should have had Kassian penalized for roughing.

-- Martinook had the last say. His second-period goal, off the rush and set up by a Warren Foegele pass, gave the Canes the 6-1 lead. Martinook, who had family and friends at the game, was moved to fourth-line center in the Saturday practice. He won seven of nine draws as Brind’Amour challenged the centers to be more focused and stronger on faceoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook (48) steps out of the the Edmonton Oilers bench after getting hit during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Edmonton, Alberta, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP) Jason Franson AP

-- One blemish to the Canes win was allowing late goals in the first and second periods. In an otherwise dominant first by the Canes, the Oilers’ Brandon Manning scored with 51 seconds left. The Canes then led 6-1 in the second before the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl scored with 19 seconds left, and Edmonton then made a push in the third to make it a two-goal game.

-- Canes forward Micheal Ferland was a late scratch with an upper-body injury after Brind’Amour said Ferland “didn’t feel right” during pregame warmups. Brind’Amour used the same words when Ferland missed some games in December with concussion symptoms, but this could be another injury issue.

-- Next up for the Canes on the road trip: the Calgary Flames and some familiar faces -- namely coach Bill Peters, forwards Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan, and defenseman Noah Hanifin. It also marks the return to Calgary for Ferland and defenseman Dougie Hamilton, traded to the Canes in exchange for Lindholm and Hanifin during the 2018 NHL Draft. Should be an intense game.

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In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.