The Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes take a four-game winning streak into a key weekend back-to-back beginning with a Saturday night contest against the Pacific Division co-leading Vegas Golden Knights in Raleigh, N.C.
Carolina holds a four-point lead in the Metro over the New Jersey Devils with a game in hand. The Devils play at Montreal on Saturday and then return to host the Hurricanes in a Sunday night showdown and the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.
The Hurricanes are coming off a 1-0 victory over visiting Philadelphia on Thursday. Rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov made 19 saves, including one on a breakaway by Joel Farabee.
The 23-year-old Russian was making his first NHL start since Jan. 15 following an emergency recall from AHL Chicago after Antti Raanta suffered a groin injury in a 4-3 shootout win over Montreal on Tuesday. It was Kochetkov’s fourth shutout in 19 starts this season.
It’s been quite a week for Kochetkov, who made national headlines on March 3 when he scored a 200-foot goalie goal for the Wolves at Manitoba. He also was later involved in a scrum with Moose captain Jimmy Oligny, who didn’t appreciate his fist-pumping goal celebration.
“He made a couple of really great saves,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
Andrei Svechnikov scored on a one-timer from the high slot on a power play off a Martin Necas pass on Carolina’s first shot of the game for the Hurricanes lone goal of the contest.
“It was a huge game for us,” Svechnikov said. “Not so many goals there … but we got the one goal and that’s enough.”
Carolina has outscored its opponents 16-4 during its four-game win streak, which began following a 3-2 loss against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas on March 1. Reilly Smith scored the game-winner in that one with 3:42 left and Jack Eichel also scored twice for Vegas.
The Golden Knights will be playing the third game of a five-game eastern road trip that began with a 2-1 loss to Florida on Tuesday. Vegas, despite blowing a 3-1 lead in the final 2:07 of regulation, bounced back to defeat Tampa Bay 4-3 in overtime on Thursday.
Defenseman Alec Martinez dove and poked in a rebound of an Eichel shot at 3:09 of overtime to give the Golden Knights their fourth win in the last five games. It also kept Vegas tied with Los Angeles in the top spot in the Pacific with 84 points. Ex-King Jonathan Quick made 34 saves in his second start since being acquired at the trade deadline.
Vegas set a franchise record for most penalties in a game (15), penalty minutes (75), penalties in a period (11) and penalties in a period (62) against the Lightning. A third-period melee at the 12:16 mark that featured Keegan Kolesar getting into it with Pat Maroon, and Nicolas Hague and Corey Perry also mixing it up, resulted in 122 penalty minutes and 10 game misconducts.
“We basically had no one on our bench,” Martinez said. “(Assistant coach John Stevens) was calling out D pairings, but he didn’t really have to because there’s only two of us left to go.”
–Field Level Media