Until tonight, the Hurricanes had not beaten the Los Angeles Kings since Feburary of 2007 and it looked like that streak would continue after the Canes looked flat in the first period and were trailing 1-0. It marks the third straight game that the team has gotten off to a sluggish start and this one was probably their worst yet, but it was all uphill after that...sort of. Carolina battled back and looked a lot stronger for the rest of the game which resulted in them taking home a 2-1 win.
It was definitely an ugly win and there were a lot of things that went wrong for the Canes (awful powerplay, only one even strength scoring chance in the first period, outshot yet again) but all of that usually gets minimized with a loss. Carolina has a lot of things to feel good about with this win, as well. Jiri Tlusty had one of his better games and scored a goal on what was a fantastic individual effort and the Hurricanes played a solid defensive game so Ward did not need to completely stand on his head for them to win.
Not the full-sixty minute effort that we always look for but a win against a good team and two points to get Carolina out of last place in the conference.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Los Angeles Kings at Carolina Hurricanes 02/04/12 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, LA's are in white
The Canes were awful in the first period but like I said earlier, they picked it up after that and played well in all three zones. That first period, though...man was it awful. They created only one even strength scoring chance and had two powerplays which they did hardly anything with. To add salt to the wound, Anthony Stewart took a bad penalty after the first failed powerplay and the Kings scored less than a minute later with a goal by Anze Kopitar.
It is hard to name an exact turning point for when the Canes began to take control but a lot of people are going to point to Gleason's "fight" with Kyle Clifford. That got the crowd riled up but all it did was get one of our best defenseman off the ice for five minutes and didn't provide much benefit otherwise. My turning point would be somewhere 31 minute mark when the Canes got their third (and only good looking) powerplay. The Kings seemed to be tired out after that and Carolina was able to get the puck into their zone much easier.
The other moment I would point to is Jiri Tlusty's goal and what an excellent one it was. He went to the point to block a slapshot from Alec Martinez, chased after the rebound and was able to get in on a breakaway and then fired a slapshot from the circle past Jonathan Bernier's shoulder to tie the game. Getting that one huge goal can go a long way and Tlusty's sure did for the Canes, especially since it tied the game.
Carolina opened the third period by recording four straight scoring chances which included the game winning goal by Jeff Skinner which was the result of great forechecking from all three members of his line. The rest of the game, the Canes defended well and made things slightly easy on Ward by preventing the Kings from getting too many quality scoring chances. Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis had a few good ones but aside from that, they didn't do much. They also held the Kings big line of Kopitar, Williams and Brown to no scoring chances in the third, which was very important and one of the reasons why the Hurricanes won this game. I would have preferred if the Canes got another goal for insurance but I was happy with the way Carolina closed things out tonight.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Eric Staal +4
Worst EV Forward: Jeff Skinner -3
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +3
Worst EV Defesemen: Jamie McBain & Jaro Spacek -4
Eric Staal quietly had a very strong game and was on ice for over half of Carolina's even strength scoring chances. It is interesting that the data says this because while I thought he played well, I wouldn't call him the best player on the ice. That would have gone to Tuomo Ruutu, who looked like a force even when the team was playing bad. Ruutu had 8 shots on goal tonight, was constantly driving the net and forcing turnovers to try to get something going in favor of Carolina. Now, he was mainly a factor on special teams (all three of our PP chances were from him) but he still did a lot of good work at even strength and I'm not going to discount that just because the data said he gave up a lot of chances.
Tonight's hero, Skinner, ended up as the team's worst rated forward and I can understand that since his goal was a "right place, right time" kind of thing and he got caught on ice both of Clifford & Lewis' chances in the third as well. I don't think he played bad, but I wouldn't say that he was terribly consistent either. I felt that Jussi Jokinen was also quiet tonight aside from the assist he picked up on Skinner's goal while Drayson Bowman was a lot more active.
Tlusty had a solid game overall and that goal he scored was the best of his career. I always get frustrated with Tlusty because there are games where he looks like he can play on the first line with no problem but other times, he is invisible. He certainly was not invisible tonight and I think it is safe to say that he's turned into a solid hockey player this year.
Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison once again had the best night out of the entire defense corps as they held the Penner-Richards-Stoll line in check. That line was held off the scoresheet completely and were held to only five total shots on goal. Tim Gleason & Bryan Allen did a respectful job against the Kopitar line as they only allowed the one powerplay goal and nothing else. They also shutdown that line completely in the third period where it was important. I noted that Trevor Lewis & Kyle Clifford were doing most of LA's damage in the third instead and part of the reason for that was because Jaro Spacek and Jamie McBain were defending them, and they didn't do a very good job at all. That line was constantly getting to the front of the net to create chances and Spacek/McBain were doing little about it.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- The Kings defensive zone coverage was excellent tonight but Doughty/Scuderi actually weren't that impressive against Carolina's top-six. Four players managed to outchance them and these two didn't win any of their battles, which is very surprising.
- Assigning the blame to McBain/Spacek on why the Clifford-Loktionov-Lewis line killed us may have been wrong because no one on the Canes defended them particularly well.
- Nodl-Sutter-Dwyer do it again as they shutdown the Kopitar line and they did it by an impressive margin. Faulk/Harrison played excellent against those three too.
- Matt Greene and Alec Martinez was the defense pairing we had trouble doing anything against, which is strange because that is the Kings' weakest unit by far.
- Eric Staal won all of his matchups. Chalk one up for the captain.
|LAK||1||15:02||Kopitar - GOAL||5||6||16||30||39||3||8||11||14||23||45||4v5|
|CAR||2||4:29||Tlusty - GOAL||4||8||12||15||19||30||2||13||22||27||45||48||5v5|
|CAR||3||16:58||Skinner - GOAL||21||28||30||36||44||53||7||8||11||14||23||45||5v5|