With many eyes trained on the second line before the game with the NHL debut of Nick Ritchie, it was the third line that proved critical for the Anaheim Ducks.
Carl Hagelin had a goal and two assists while Anton Khudobin made 24 saves against his former team to lead the Ducks to a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday at PNC Arena.
"It's the best third period we've had, being up and goal and we kept pushing. We still have some work to do in our second periods," Hagelin said to Julie Stewart-Binks on Prime Ticket.
With Hagelin skating on the left wing with Shawn Horcoff in the middle and Andrew Cogliano on the right wing, the trio was one of the most consistently dangerous lines for Anaheim. Horcoff scored the game's opening goal in the first period and had an additional assist, while Cogliano bagged a pair of helpers.
"All three of them were instrumental in the win. Every time Carolina was having pressure on us in our zone, that line would go out there and retake the momentum back for us," head coach Bruce Boudreau said to Stewart-Binks on Prime Ticket.
Horcoff put the Ducks on the board just past the midway point of what was a cautious first period that saw the teams combine for just eight shots. Cogliano chipped the puck down the near sideboards to Hagelin, who threw a centering feed to the front of the net that deflected off Horcoff's right skate past Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack for the 1-0 advantage Anaheim would enjoy at intermission.
The second period sluggishness that has dogged the Ducks in recent seasons continued, as it took nearly seven minutes for Anaheim to attempt their first shot and until around 12 minutes had been played to put the puck on net for the first time. In the intermediary Noah Hanifin scored his first NHL goal with a slap shot from the far point that beat Khudobin to the stick side at the 3:38 mark.
Carolina pushed with the game tied 1-1, but the Ducks took the wind out of the host's sails with their second shot of the period. Ryan Getzlaf found Sami Vatanen at the far point, who faked a shot and deked around the prone Carolina defender before unleashing a slapper that deflected off a stick and beat Lack far post.
"Even though there were pockets where we didn't do much, when push came to shove we were pretty good defensively and Khudobin was there when we needed him," Boudreau said to Stewart-Binks.
After the Vatanen goal Anaheim assumed control offensively through the end of the second period, and held a solid back and forth for the third period. Hagelin's insurance marker came with 3:49 remaining, taking a drop pass from Horcoff behind the net and circling around to the near post. He wrapped the puck in front, which deflected off Lack's stick between his legs to make it 3-1.
"Cogs and Horcs really helped me out tonight, we played very north-south and that fits my game," said Hagelin to Stewart-Binks.
Getzlaf scored his first goal of the season into an empty net assisted by Ryan Kesler in the final minute. The Ducks ended up creating more scoring chances than Carolina by a 21-15 margin (20-12 at even strength) despite killing off three penalties, and had a 7-6 advantage in high danger chances.
"A lot of the lines were feeling good about themselves, especially playing well defensively. That's what you need to do when you play a good team like Nashville tomorrow" Hagelin said to Stewart-Binks.
Anaheim continues the road trip with the second half of a back-to-back against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena for a 5 PM PT puck drop.