Before getting into the details, I just have to say that the Canes 5-3 win over the Canadiens last night was one of the best Carolina games I've seen this year. We have seen the Canes come back from a deficit before but what made this win feel so good was the play of Eric Staal. Carolina was constantly getting into penalty trouble and was down their leading goal-scorer for most of the night but that didn't seem to phase them even when they blew a 2-0 lead in the second period. Staal took over the game in the third period and it all started with his shorthanded goal where he made former Hurricane Tomas Kaberle look like a traffic cone. After that, he played like a man possessed and ended the game with six shots on goal, 11 shot attempts and a two goal/three point night to boot.
On a night where head coach Kirk Muller was returning to the city where he once led the Habs to many victories, it was only fitting to see Staal do the same for Carolina. I know Staal's been having an off-year by his standards but I don't think you can deny that he's been Carolina's best player ever since the calendar turned 2012. While he has played better than his goal total and plus/minus indicate, Staal's performance last night was exactly what fans were hoping to see out of him all season and more. I hope he can continue to have more games like that down the stretch.
Moving onto the more technical details, last night's game was actually pretty odd. A little over 30% of the game wasn't played at even strength and we saw plenty of 4-on-4 and 4-on-3 situations, so there were bound to be a lot of strange occurrences. Five of the eight goals scored last night were on special teams situations as the Habs struck twice on the powerplay and the Canes scored twice with the man advantage and had a shorthanded tally in addition to that. Like I said, strange things happen when a good chunk of the game isn't played at five-on-five and the Canes won last night because their special teams were slightly better than Montreal's. Want proof of that? The Canes were outchanced 14-13 at even strength but had 21-18 advantage overall because of how good they were on the powerplay. Sometimes goalies steal you games and sometimes the powerplay will. This time it was the latter.
Scoring chances & more after the jumpno comments