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Steel lifts Ducks to 2-1 overtime win over Hurricanes

The (Raleigh) News & Observer logo The (Raleigh) News & Observer 1/18/2020 By Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Rod Brind'Amour wearing a suit and tie: In a March 2018 file image, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour, left, argues a ruling in action against the Arizona Coyotes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. © Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS In a March 2018 file image, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour, left, argues a ruling in action against the Arizona Coyotes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes’ first game without Dougie Hamilton did not well for the home team.

Sam Steel’s goal at 1:36 of overtime gave the Anaheim Ducks a 2-1 victory at PNC Arena.

Sebastian Aho, back at center, scored for the Canes in the first period, his 24th of the season but his first in eight games. But defenseman Erik Gudbranson countered for the Ducks (19-24-5) late in the opening period and it was 1-1 into overtime.

By then it had become a standoff between the starting goalies, James Reimer of the Canes and Ryan Miller of the Ducks. But Steel finally ended it after the Canes turned over the puck, breaking in on Reimer.

It will take time for the Canes (27-18-3) to fully adjust to playing without Hamilton, who fractured a fibula in Thursday’s road loss against Columbus and had surgery Friday in Raleigh. The Canes will miss the play of the big, versatile defenseman. Emotionally, they also must recover from losing a popular teammate, likely for the rest of the regular season.

Aho was moved to the wing for the Columbus game but was back at center Friday. He played with energy and extra pace, attacking in the offensive zone while making some sound defensive-zone work.

Centering a line with Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele, Aho scored after first winning a faceoff in the offensive zone. He drifted to the low slot, redirecting a shot by defenseman Joel Edmundson for his first score in 2020 — his last goal was in the Dec. 31 game against Montreal.

Aho nearly scored another goal shorthanded in the second, his shot glancing off the pad of Miller and hitting the post.

A defensive breakdown late in the first by the Canes allowed the Ducks to tie the score. Gudbranson was able to sneak in unchecked in the slot, beating Reimer with a low shot through the pads.

With Hamilton sidelined, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he might mix-and-match his defensive pairs and did. Edmundson moved into the top pairing with Jaccob Slavin while Brett Pesce was paired with Jake Gardiner. Haydn Fleury, back in the lineup, and Trevor van Riemsdyk made up the third pairing but Brind’Amour moved the D-men around during the game.

Brind’Amour also tweaked the forward lines again after some wholesale shuffling for the Columbus game.

The key move was moving Aho back to center. Jordan Staal centered a line with Andrei Svechnikov and Brock McGinn, Erik Haula centered Ryan Dzingel and Martin Necas, and Lucas Wallmark was at center with Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Martinook.

Brind’Amour made some in-game changes, moving Niederreiter onto Haula’s line in Necas’ spot, and moving Svechnikov to Aho’s line in the third opposite Teravainen.

The Ducks came into PNC Arena off a 3-1 road win Thursday against the Nashville Predators. Playing their last game before their bye week and the All-Star Game break, they used a heavy forechecking game to try and wear down the Canes’ defense.

The Canes had success against the Blue Jackets, albeit in a 3-2 loss, in quickly getting pucks out of their zone. It was a tougher go against the Ducks, who ended a four-game losing streak with the Nashville victory.

Gardiner made a key play late in the final seconds of the first period. Reimer twice stopped shots by Derek Grant, and Gardiner moved behind his goalie and sealed the post to block a third attempt by Grant.

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©2020 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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