Hurricanes’ Mrazek posts 1-0 shutout in return

Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek watches the puck while defenseman Brady Skjei defends against Stars forwards Denis Gurianovvand Justin Dowling during Carolina’s 1-0 Sunday in Raleigh. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook scored the only goal of the game and Petr Mrazek had a 28-save shutout in his first game in over nine weeks in Carolina’s 1-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday at PNC Arena.

Three Thoughts

1. The last time we saw Mrazek on the ice with the Hurricanes, the goalie was exiting a game against the Stars with an injured thumb after starting the season with two shutouts in three games.

He picked up where he left off from when he was hurt.

The Hurricanes dominated play and limited chances, and Mrazek made stops when he needed in earning his third shutout in four decisions this season.

“That’s just what (Mrazek) does, he’s a gamer,” Martinook said. “It was good to see him back in there, and the results speak for themselves. He played phenomenal, big saves when we needed them, and just great game by (him).”

2. The two games against the Stars featured six goals on 134 shots, 153 hits and enough grit to fill a seven-game playoff series.

“It gets tough, as we know,” Brind’Amour said. “Playoff hockey, it’s kind of that way. You got to grind, and that certainly was the feel of these two games.”

And for all the big hits, post-whistle scrums and tight play, you could tell both teams came away respecting each other after two hard-fought games.

“It felt like some playoff games,” Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck said. “It’s a good team over there. They went all the way last year (to the Stanley Cup Final), and they know how to how to win and how to get all the way.

“So playing against them, playing hard like we did, it shows that we got what it takes.”

3. Dallas coach Rick Bowness left the game after the second period due to COVID protocols and Stars assistant John Stevens took over the Stars bench the rest of the way.

The Stars players and coaches are tested 2-3 hours before the game, Dallas GM Jim Nill said in a postgame availability, and the entire traveling party receives a PCR test in the morning. Those second results normally don’t come until early the following morning. On Sunday, however, the results came in early, and Bowness showed a positive.

Nill said Bowness is fully vaccinated, the levels in the test were low, and the team believes the result is a false positive. The Stars consulted with the league, and those factors led to the decision to pull Bowness but complete the game. Stars goalie Anton Khudobin had a similar result Saturday and has now been cleared after two negative tests.

Nill said much of the team has either already had COVID-19 — the Stars’ start to the season was delayed with a team-wide outbreak — or been vaccinated.

The Hurricanes’ players and coaching staff, however, were seemingly unaware of the situation during the game. Both Martinook and Brind’Amour said they weren’t told what was happening.

“I did notice that he wasn’t there,” Brind’Amour said. “You know, wasn’t 100% sure what for, so we weren’t obviously told anything.”

The NHL’s transparency should start with its teams, and it’s surprising the league wouldn’t at least relay the situation into the opposing locker room, even if the Stars and NHL believe the end result will prove to be a false positive.

Number To Know

29 — Times in Hurricanes franchise history that the team has won 1-0, according the Hockey-Reference.com. Sunday’s win was the second such victory this season, with the other also coming with Mrazek in net in a 1-0 overtime win against Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.

Before that, the Hurricanes hadn’t won a game 1-0 since 2016-17, when they did it twice (both won by Cam Ward). Arturs Irbe won two 1-0 games in 2000-01 a year after winning three in 1999-2000. No Whalers goalie won two 1-0 games in a season in the team’s time in Hartford, though Mike Liut and Peter Sidorkiewicz each earned one in 1989-90.

They Said It

“There’s one guy, I can tell you, that if he comes out of the game, he’s hurt. … There’s nobody I’ve been around since I’ve been done playing that is tougher than that kid.”

— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on Brock McGinn, who left the game with an upper body injury. Brind’Amour said McGinn would be evaluated Monday but that the injury “doesn’t look good.”

Plus

Jordan Martinook, Hurricanes forward — Martinook has bounced from center to wing all season, moving around on lines to wherever Brind’Amour needed him. On Sunday, that meant playing on Trocheck’s left wing opposite Martin Necas.

The moved paid off.

The Hurricanes caught Dallas in a line change early in the second period and pounced, with Brett Pesce getting the puck up ice to Trocheck to start the play. Trocheck flipped a pass past Dallas’ Andrew Cogliano to spring Martinook, who went in alone on Jake Oettinger (37 saves) and shot blocker side high from the hashmarks for the game’s only goal — only his second of the season and first Feb. 13.

“I’ve been close and kind of fighting it, a little frustrated I guess,” Martinook said. “I actually got to give some credit to my dad because he just said, ‘Just quit gripping your stick so tight and have fun. … You’ve scored goals before, just go out and shoot.’ So, we’ll chalk that up to Sparky Marty for the assist on that one.”

Minus

Brock McGinn, Hurricanes forward — Just when the Hurricanes start to get back players, it looks like they’ve lost another one when McGinn left the game in the second period. As Brind’Amour said, McGinn is a warrior who plays through just about anything, so for him to concede he couldn’t go on means something is definitely wrong.

McGinn’s six-goal, 10-point February has given way to just two points in his last 17 games. But McGinn has value beyond the score sheet, particularly on the penalty kill, and a long-term absence would rob Carolina of another of its top defensive wingers while Teuvo Teravainen is still recovering from a concussion.