The Carolina Hurricanes still don’t have a blemish on their record.
The Canes, showing off their speed and quickness, topped the New York Islanders 5-2 on Friday to improve their record to 5-0-0. That’s the best start to a season in franchise history and had Canes fans at full throat in the final seconds at PNC Arena.
“I thought from start to finish we were ready to play,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and the guys dug in. All in all it was a good effort by everybody in the group.
“I like the way guys are coming to work every day. The 5-0 is kind of irrelevant. We’re trying to win the day. That’s the mentality these guys have had and that we have to continue.”
The Canes and Islanders last faced each other in the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canes won twice in PNC Arena, finishing up the four-game sweep at home, and there was residual friction between the two teams.
The Canes got goals Friday from the forwards -- Teuvo Teravainen, Erik Haula and then an empty-netter by Andrei Svechnikov. They got goals from their defensemen -- Brett Pesce and Dougie Hamilton, who also made a spectacular assist on Teravainen’s goal. They showed off their team speed while showing enough grittiness when the Isles turned more physical.
Canes goalie Petr Mrazek, making his third start in net, was beaten twice for power-play goals, by Brock Nelson in the first period and Johnny Boychuk early in the second. He faced just 19 shots, two in the third period, in his third win of the season.
Penalty killing has been spotty early in the season for the Canes, who have given up six power-play goals in the first five games. The Islanders’ first power play lasted eight seconds before Nelson scored. Boychuk’s goal came early in the second period, after a delay-of-game call against Carolina with four seconds left in the first period that had Brind’Amour frustrated and irked.
But at even strength, the Canes were at their best. They have balance in their lines and a lot of youthful bounce and energy, a growing trend in the NHL, producing 16 “high-danger” scoring chances against Isles goalie Thomas Greiss, who had won six of his last seven games against Carolina. The D-men are given the freedom to jump into plays, resulting in the Pesce goal off a neat pass in tight quarters by Svechnikov, who has a league-best seven assists.
“Their speed gives everybody trouble,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “They’re all about pressure and their D get up on it, and pressure, pressure, pressure. The Hamilton goal really left a mark on us.”
That was a blast from the point by Hamilton with 59 seconds left in the second, pushing the Canes ahead 4-2. Hamilton, playing as well as any defenseman in the league, has three goals and four assists in the 5-0 start.
Why so good?
“I think it’s his commitment, totally,” Brind’Amour said. “I think he’s more comfortable for sure with our system and how we want to play.”
The Canes, who host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, learned this week that forward Jordan Martinook would need surgery to repair a core muscle injury, sidelining him for six to eight weeks.
Julien Gauthier, a former first-round draft pick by Carolina, was recalled from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers and made his NHL debut. Gauthier was given the traditional first-game honor of being the first player on the ice for the pregame warmups.
Gauthier, a winger on the fourth line, got 7:33 in playing time. He also picked up his first NHL penalty, for high-sticking in the third that the Canes, leading 4-2, killed off without allowing a shot.
With Martinook out, Teravainen wore an “A” as an alternate captain. And his line, with center Sebastian Aho and winger Nino Niederreiter, was flying much of the game, especially Aho. Niederreiter had two assists, his first multi-point game of the season.
Teravainen’s goal, his second in as many games, was a simple tap-in made possible by the scintillating pass from Hamilton. The defenseman held on to the puck on the rush, causing Isles defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock to go down attempting to block a pass or shot. But Hamilton, on one leg, curled the puck to Teravainen.
“I was shooting the whole way but you’ve got to pass when it’s that easy,” Hamilton said, smiling.
Haula continues to impress. He scored his fourth of the season with a power move from behind the goal line, taking the puck to the net, getting off a shot, then punching the rebound past Greiss. That was the game-winner, his first with the Canes.
“We’ve just got to stay in the moment, not get too high or too low,” Hamilton said. “It’s going good for us. We can’t get too high. We just have to keep focusing on day by day.”