Jussi Jokinen (2 goals, 1 assist), Riley Nash (1 goal, 2 assists), and Alexander Semin (3 assists) helped generate the team’s scoring production, assisting Eric Staal in finishing with two goals along with linemate Jiri Tlusty, who netted another to earn the win over the Panthers.
With the victory, the Hurricanes kept sole possession of first place in the NHL’s Southeast Division, but the team had little time to celebrate as they packed their bags and were ready to travel to Florida for a return engagement with the Panthers on Sunday.
“We came out with good intensity and we carried it through,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said.
“We’re pretty pleased with our effort and our performance tonight.”
After scoring three goals during the second period in an energetic 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, the Hurricanes filled the net with three goals in one period again, the sixth time they’ve done it this season, getting two from Jokinen and one from Jiri Tlusty.
Scoring that many goals during the opening period has been a rare occurrence for Carolina this season since they had only tallied only eight coming into the game against Florida.
“We wanted to come out strong,” Jokinen said.
“Anytime you can get the lead, it’s a little bit easier to play and take some risks as the game goes on.”
New linemates connect
With Muller recently making adjustments to his lineup to support his scoring lines, matching up Jokinen with Nash paid off as the youngster scored his first NHL goal while helping Jokinen double up on his current production with his first multi-point game of the season.
“When you’re a guy like Juice, you have a different identity,” Muller said.
“The message this morning was ‘just play a good solid wing on the third line’. The breaks will come and the offense will come. “I didn’t think they would happen that quick,” Muller added quickly with a smile.
“He was solid there. He seems to have some chemistry with Nash right now. That’s big to get him goin’. Gettin’ support from the third and fourth lines is going to take pressure off the top two.”
Adjusting to the game
Nash pointed out that he had become more comfortable with his game and playing the role asked of him, and that maybe the opportunity to score would come at some point sooner than later.
“Yeah, definitely more comfortable,” Nash continued.
“As you play more with the guys, it’s one of those things where you’re trying to adjust as fast as possible. I played six games and had one assist. I wasn’t entirely happy with that – I know I had a few chances to score and I just wanted to try and contribute.”
Rest and recovery
The Hurricanes held a limited practice on Friday in which Nash took part in along with a handful of others, while Jokinen and the rest of the team took some time to rest.
When asked if the extra time to recover allowed his players to prepare for a productive and physical game against Florida, Muller agreed wholeheartedly.
“Absolutely,” Muller said.
“We’ve got another tough week. We’ve got a lot of games right now. We’re gonna’ keep giving the guys days off when we can. The young guys, they show up and we keep them on the ice and keep working on some things for their game. For the guys that are playin’ a lot of minutes, it’s important to get their rest and focus on stuff in the morning skate.”
After having a day to recover between games, Nash, Jokinen and the rest of the team will not have that luxury before taking to the ice again in attempt to extend their current win streak to three games, a feat they’ve already accomplished once this season.