June 25, 2024

Just In: New star’s debut in front of Hurricane fans, what every fan have been waiting.

The Carolina Hurricanes have a different look from the last time their fans saw them on the ice just a few days ago. The trade deadline brought changes for the Hurricanes, who will take on the Calgary Flames on Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The Hurricanes have a game under their belt with their new look. Carolina won its second game in a row and for the fourth in five games with Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 victory over the Devils in New Jersey.

The Hurricanes had forward Evgeny Kuznetsov in the lineup in New Jersey barely 24 hours after he was acquired in a trade from the Washington Capitals for a third-round selection in the 2025 NHL Draft. “I’m just so happy to be here,” said Kuznetsov, 31. “I don’t take anything for granted anymore.” Kuznetsov joined a line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jesper Fast. The newcomer said it’s his job to fit in with all of his Carolina teammates. “A lot of young guys, which is exciting,” Kuznetsov said. “They all compete hard. They have skill. They combine it. My job is just to fill in and do whatever is best for the team.”

Kotkaniemi said even with Kuznetsov joining the group, it’s important that the Hurricanes are attentive to the defensive end. “That’s what we try and lean on every night,” Kotkaniemi said. “We try and get a couple of goals on the power play, and if we get the chance, we take it. But defense is our thing. We try to be tight in our own end, and that’s been key for our wins lately.” The Hurricanes had enough to win Saturday, even though there were clunky moments. “I thought we got off of our game a little. Not a whole bunch, nothing that cost us the game,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “But we definitely were just kind of hanging on there for a bit.”

With goalie Pyotr Kochetkov playing for Carolina on Saturday, the Hurricanes figure to go back to Frederik Andersen for Sunday’s game. Andersen was in action Thursday night for the first time in more than four months after an absence stemming from a blood clotting issue. The Flames went the distance Saturday with goalie Jacob Markstrom, who has had a heavy workload.

The Flames had won six of their past seven games until falling 5-1 on Saturday at Florida. Sunday’s game will mark the end of a three-game trip for Calgary. “We liked our first period,” Flames coach Ryan Huska said of Saturday’s game. “But you give up one early in the second period and we allowed their transition game to get more into play than we would have liked.”

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Calgary is trying to sort out defensive pairings after recent trades uprooted some of the core at the blueline. “That’s going to be the next little bit,” Huska said of experimenting. “We have to find some chemistry. It’s just something that we’ll have to keep working.” Calgary won 3-2 at home against the Hurricanes on Dec. 7 in the teams’ first meeting of the season, scoring three goals in the third period to wipe out a two-goal deficit. Michael Bunting scored one of the Carolina goals in that game, but he’s off the roster now as part of the trade to obtain forward Jake Guentzel on Thursday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

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