Tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs had the makings of being one of those old fashioned, high scoring run-and-gun style contests where the winner would be determined by who had the last shot on net. The Hurricanes, who haven't been good defensively this year, were missing two top-four defensemen in Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason while the Leafs have injuries all across the board and are currently icing two AHL-ers in their top-four. It ended up being somewhat of a low-scoring affair with the Hurricanes putting together one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
The Canes gave up only 18 shots at even strength and 23 overall, which is pretty amazing when you consider who they were dressing in their defense corps. They managed to do this by employing the same strategy as they had in the New Jersey game, which was forecheck hard, force turnovers and trap the Leafs in their own zone for most of the game. I thought it would be difficult for the Canes to do this with a depleted defense, but they really suffocated the Leafs tonight and did everything they could to keep the puck out of their own zone. A large part of this was due to the excellent play fo the top-line, who forced a lot of turnovers to disrupt Toronto's breakout attempts, and the makeshift #2 defense pairing of Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo. If you told anyone that this particular d-corps gave the Hurricanes their best defensive effort of the season, they would think that you were lying but that's what happened tonight.
Some people say that the first game home after a long road trip is tough because there is a lot of pressure on the home team to perform well in front of their fans. Even if that is true, it didn't look like that affected the Canes tonight as they took home a very impressive win against a hot Toronto team and now have a well-deserved few days off. Let's hope that they don't lose much steam when they hit the road again for Monday's game against the Montreal Canadiens.no comments