Former Flyer Brendan Lemieux tallied the game-winning goal in the second period on Tuesday, as the Hurricanes downed the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1.
Lemieux gathered the rebound following his own shot attempt after Stefan Noesen earned a win along the boards and found the back of the net. His score gave Carolina the 2-1 advantage and marked his second of the season.
With Andrei Svechnikov ruled out shortly before game time due to illness, Lemieux was a late add to the Carolina lineup. Tuesday marked his first action since Nov. 4 against the Islanders.
“It was just another game, and I’ve played plenty of them,” said Lemieux. “We’ve got a really good group and I’m happy to be here, so any time I get a chance to play and a chance to contribute, I’m excited about it.”
The Hurricanes never trailed in the Metro Division showdown, holding the lead for over 48 minutes.
Michael Bunting opened up the scoring just under six minutes into the contest, putting back a rebound on a Sebastian Aho shot attempt and beating Carter Hart.
With the absence of Svechnikov, Bunting slid up to the first line alongside Aho and Seth Jarvis.
“I thought we played well together. Obviously, they’re two good players and I thought we connected well, and were able to produce a couple of times,” said Bunting. “That’s my game. I can play anywhere in the lineup and I’m very confident wherever I am.”
Carolina maintained the lead for over 20 minutes, until Travis Konecny secured a breakaway from the neutral zone, where he beat Pyotr Kochetkov glove-side to tie the game at one.
With a 2-1 advantage and just over three minutes remaining in the contest, Seth Jarvis provided the Hurricanes with some insurance. Jarvis won a race to the puck down the left side, and after Hart appeared to stop the initial shot attempt, earned the score as the puck trickled under his left pad and into the net.
Less than a minute later, Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s empty net goal from the half-wall put any doubt to rest.
Sebastian Aho and Bunting led the way for Carolina, as Aho tallied two assists and Bunting recorded both a goal and an assist.
In net for the Hurricanes, Pyotr Kochetkov earned his second consecutive win, stopping 28 of Philadelphia’s 29 shot attempts. Kochetkov’s .966 save percentage was his second-highest on the season and his one goal allowed marked his second-lowest on the year.
While the likes of Aho, Bunting, and Kochetkov filled up the box score, performances on the blue line by Dmitry Orlov and Jalen Chatfield cannot be overlooked.
Chatfield was a +3 in 16:05 of ice time, the second-highest mark of his career. He amassed a +4 rating on Jan. 21 against the Islanders.
His line mate in Orlov has come into his own as of late and certainly benefitted from the defensive and physical approach of Chatfield.
Orlov was also a +3 despite seeing just 15:33 of action, the lowest of the six Carolina defenders. The 32-year old also secured an assist on Bunting’s game-opening goal.
The duo of Chatfield and Orlov have not allowed a goal over the last four games in 57:13 of ice time, and have been a +4, according to Canes Stats.
Tuesday’s victory felt like a signature Hurricanes victory, never letting the foot off of the gas, and minimizing the number of miscues.
“We didn’t have too many lulls,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “We had a few shifts that weren’t really good, but for the most part, we stuck to the gameplan and what we needed to do.”
With the win, Carolina moves into second place in the Metro Division at 13-8-0 overall (26 points), five points behind the New York Rangers.
The Hurricanes return to action on Thursday, as they welcome the Islanders to PNC Arena.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm.