The Hurricanes 4-2 win over the Sabers featured a lot of back and-forth action, great goaltending and some pretty spotty defensive play. Put all of that together and you got yourself a pretty exciting hockey game. The Canes had one of their sloppier performances of the year but good special teams, goaltending and a couple of mistakes on Buffalo's end is what helped Carolina win this game. This isn't the type of game I would like to see every night but the Canes managed to come away with the two points and that's what matters the most here.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Buffalo Sabers 1/6/12 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Buffalo's are in white
I won't lie, I was a bit worried that another third period meltdown was going to happen last night because this had all the makings of one. Tie game, chances were relatively even but the Canes weren't doing much at even strength. Fortunately, that did not happen and the Canes also added another four-on-four goal to their total, which is another area that they've been struggling at this year. The Sabers were definitely the better team when playing five-on-five and they only gave up one goal during then. The problem is that their PK got torched in giving up four scoring chances and a goal (not counting the empty netter) and they couldn't get any of their powerplay chances past Ward. This game was a lot more equal than the even strength chances make it out to be, that's for sure. The four-on-four goal from LaRose proved to be huge not only because it gave them the lead, but it also stopped a Buffalo streak of four unanswered scoring chances that could have easily turned things around in the Sabers favor. Carolina responded with five of their own and managed to kill off the late Buffalo powerplay which (along with Sutter's EN goal) salted this one away for the Canes.
Again, not the prettiest of wins but not a bad game overall for Carolina. If anything, I am happy that they took advantage of their powerplay opportunities but their even strength play still needs a lot of work.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Anthony Stewart, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Brett Sutter & Tim Brent +1
Worst EV Forward: Brandon Sutter -4
Best EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -8
My worry about this lineup was that Kirk Muller would roll only two lines if the game was close and while the score was close, the ice times do not look horribly skewed here. The third line (21-37-19) were actually a lot more involved than I thought they would be. Maybe I've been underestimating Timmy Brent all season because he has posted some brutal underlying numbers with not much offense to make up for it but he looks decent when he's given more than 7 minutes of ice time per night. That or playing on a line with a great possession driver like Ponikarovsky rubbed off on him? Could be one or the other but here's hoping that it keeps up.
Remember how I said that Tomas Vanek & Jason Pominville are still dangerous despite their bad possession numbers? They absolutely steamrolled Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison tonight and the table above speaks for itself. Faulk had a good game when it came to working the powerplay but man, he got torched in his own end and didn't make up for it offensively, at least not at even strength. Before we overreact to anything, let's remember that this is a rookie going up against two forwards who have been point-per-game players. Muller noticed this and matched up Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain (and Bryan Allen) against them in the third period. The only scoring chance that line had in the third was Pominville's fluky goal that deflected off McBain's skate.
The 36-12-15 line was not as explosive as I hoped they would be but Staal did get himself a three point night and as long as he's putting up points, I do not care what his underlying numbers look like. I know that sounds ignorant but Staal was putting up great underlying numbers while running into bad luck and going pointless for 5-8 game stretches, so let's consider this him making up for lost time. That sounds like a plan. I was hoping for a better performance from this line, though. It's always a huge gamble when you put all of the team's best scorers on one unit.
Another line I hoped would perform better was Brandon Sutter's line, but their falters came in their own end. Sutter was doubled up in chances and LaRose gave up a lot in his own end too. If we're going to load up the first line, then I was hoping Sutter's line would produce offensively while playing respnsible defense, we got only half of that last night. 4-5 chances created is respectable but not when you give up twice as many in your own end. Then again, they were also assigned against Vanek's line who overpowered everyone. They also had only one of thier shifts start in the defensive zone, so they were climbing an uphill battle from the get-go.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Yeah...this wasn't the best night for Faulk and Harrison. They lost all of their matchups and were beaten badly by the Sabers top unit. Staal, Gleason, McBain and the fourth line were the only players to have a respectable performance against them, though.
- Derek Roy had to leave the game early and Brad Boyes was put on the second line in his place. This definitely had a negative effect on the Sabers as just about every forward outside of their first line didn't play that well.
- For as bad as Faulk/Harrison played against the Vanek line, the other defense pairings seemed to do a much better job at limiting their chances. Gleason/McBain played well against almost everyone and their best performances were against the Sabers top minute players. Looks like they aren't quite ready to give up that top defense pairing spot so easily.
- I had a feeling that one of the Sutter brothers would win all of his matchups but I didn't think it would be Brett.
This win looks a lot uglier on paper than it did in person, doesn't it? They all count, though.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20595
|CAR||2||17:21||Faulk - GOAL||8||12||15||28||30||36||28||30||36||57||81||5v4|
|BUF||2||17:01||Vanek - GOAL||16||21||28||30||44||59||26||29||30||55||57||81||5v5|
|CAR||3||18:49||Staal - GOAL||4||6||12||15||30||36||3||21||22||24||30||42||5v5|
|BUF||3||13:48||Pominville - GOAL||4||6||12||15||30||36||3||24||26||29||30||55||5v5|
|CAR||3||11:50||LaRose - GOAL||4||6||16||30||59||3||24||26||30||55||4v4|