RALEIGH — It is often said that the first game home after a long road trip is a trap game.
The Hurricanes, who banked 11 of 12 points on their six-game road trip, returned to PNC Arena against a surprising Kraken team that was ready to pounce on the road-weary home team.
Instead, it was Carolina that jumped on Seattle, getting two goals from the fourth line, jumping out to a three-goal lead and winning 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd Thursday at PNC Arena.
Stefan Noesen’s goal in the second period — the first penalty shot attempt of his NHL career — proved to be the game-winner. And he did it with style.
After drawing the call when Seattle defenseman Adam Larsson slashed him on a breakaway, Noesen skated in on Philipp Grubauer (326 saves) and unleashed a half-windup slap shot that beat the Kraken goalie up high for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-0 lead at 2:08 of the middle frame.
“A couple years ago in Wilkes-Barre (the Penguins’ AHL affiliate) I did that and was 5 for 5,” Noesen said of taking the mini-slapper. “So I felt like if he dropped his glove, it was going there. If he didn’t, maybe five-hole or make a move. But he dropped his glove and I don’t think anyone’s going to stop that one.”
Carolina built its three-goal lead by jumping on the Kraken early, clogging the neutral zone and attacking on the forecheck, and the latter paid off for the game’s first goal.
Seattle center Yanni Gourde received an outlet pass at the Kraken blue line but one-touched it back toward his own net. The puck glanced off Jared McCann’s stick and was then bobbled by Carson Soucy.
Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov pounced, stealing the puck and wristing a shot past Philipp Grubauer for his 16th goal of the season and a 1-0 Carolina lead at 10:10 of the first period.
Carolina doubled its lead later in the first period after a quick reload led to an off-man rush, with Jack Drury feeding Derek Stepan for a quick shot that went bar down for his first goal of the season.
“It’s always nice to score,” said Stepan, who had goals disallowed in consecutive games on Oct. 22 and 24 early in the season, “it definitely builds that momentum a little bit.”
With the fourth line clicking, the Hurricanes were able to bring waves of pressure throughout the game, outshooting the Kraken 39-17 while holding a 55-28 5-on-5 shot attempt advantage.
“You’re always counting on 20 guys, but sometimes you can’t play (the fourth line), that’s just the nature of the game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind}Amour said. “When you get contributions like that, that’s a difference-maker usually every night if that happens that way.”
The Kraken did rally to make it interesting.
Pyotr Kochetkov (15 saves) saw his seven-plus period shutout streak end at 151:26 when Ryan Donato tipped a Soucy shot in the high slot and redirected it in for a 3-1 Carolina lead at 11:26 of the second period.
Then after limiting Seattle to just one shot — which came from outside the blue line — in the first half of the third period, Daniel Sprong trickled one through Kochetkov to cut the lead to one at 9:14 of the third period.
But the Hurricanes — and Kochetkov, who improved to 8-1-4 since being recalled this season — held on for the win, improving to 17-6-6 and just four points behind New Jersey for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.
“I think our team has been playing really well overall,” Noesen said.
Notes: All 18 Carolina skaters recorded a shot on goal, led by Drury and Jordan Martinook with five apiece. … Donato now has four goals in six career games against the Hurricanes. … Drury, still looking for his first goal of the season, was credited with four high-danger chances by NaturalStatTrick.com. … Kotkaniemi leads the team with 24 penalty minutes.