History was made last night at the PNC Arena as the Hurricanes on their first shootout of the 2011-12 season. It only took them 81 games and seven attempts but they finally came out on the winning side of the skills competition and it was nice to finally get the monkey off their back there. Sure, the odds of winning a shootout is the equivalent of flipping a coin, but when you've witnessed 16 overtime overtime losses, six of which coming in the shootout, over the course of one season, it makes you want to pull your hair out so it was nice to see a win in that situation.
Last night's game wasn't exactly the perfect way to close out the PNC Arena since the Hurricanes had a stretch of about 20 minutes where the Canes looked flat and it didn't help that the refs were calling anything and everything. There were approximately 28 penalty minutes between both teams, which meant that this game would likely be decided by special teams and that was almost the case. The Hurricanes only goal came on the powerplay and the Canadiens were given a 5-on-3 late in the third period which very well could have decided the game, too. Both teams were relatively even in shots and scoring chances (19-18 Carolina overall) so it was fitting that this game needed to be decided by extra time and a shootout. It was also nice for Carolina to finally catch a break in the shootout and end the season's home stand on a winning note.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Montreal's are in white
Carolina was slightly outchanced at even strength but they made much more use out of their powperlay opportunities than Montreal did. Six scoring chances in approximately 11 minutes of powerplay time isn't spectacular but it grossly outperformed the four chances that Montreal produced in nearly 12 minutes. The Habs also squandered their best opportunity to take the lead, which came towards the end of the 3rd period. Jaro Spacek, Chad LaRose and Tim Gleason took consecutive penalties and gave the Habs a powerplay for the last four minutes of the third period and they could only create two scoring chances then, which is equal to the amount Carolina created shorthanded.
I would point to that as what gave Carolina the best chance to win, but I think the main turning point came in the second period after the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead. Carolina got a powerplay and Chad LaRose was able to score by doing what he is best at; crashing the crease and banging in loose pucks. Carolina played noticably better after that goal and outplayed the Canadiens for the remainder of the second and most of the third period. Both goalies played good enough to earn the win but thanks to some luck and the invention of three point games, Carolina ended up getting the W. I think the Canes played well enough to win this game but I can't say that the Habs deserved to lose either.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Tuomo Ruutu +4
Worst EV Forward: Anthony Stewart, Tim Brent & Derek Joslin -3
Best EV Defenseman: Joni Pitkanen +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -2
With Andreas Nodl still out and Drayson Bowman sent to Charlotte, the Canes were stuck rolling 8 defensemen and 10 forwards for last night's game and it resulted in the top-six being heavily leaned on throughout the game. Staal played about 26 minutes and was one of our best players last night. He didn't dominate in even strength play but he was tied with Ruutu and Skinner for the lead in five-on-five scoring chances and played terrific on special teams. As for the team's best player, I think Ruutu had the strongest game overall and the scoring chance numbers agree with that. Him, Jokinen and Skinner had yet another good game and I see no reason why this line should not play together to start next season.
Chad LaRose, the team's lone goal-scroer, was on ice for as many of Montreal's scoring chances as his own team and was underwhelming on special teams. He certainly came up big when he needed to, though. Scored a goal and nearly had a second on a breakaway out of the penalty box towards the end of the game. As for his linemate, Jiri Tlusty, he had a solid game and was stoned by Budaj on a grade A chance in the third period.
Brandon Sutter played over seven minutes on the penalty kill and was on ice for only one Montreal scoring chance. That's why he is loved in Carolina. He also held Tomas Plekanec's line quiet for most of the game and was on ice for only three MTL scoring chances at even strength.
The "fourth line" wasn't used much and when they were on the ice, Montreal had the puck in our zone and created three scoring chances. I think that alone explains why neither Stewart or Joslin played that much. Tim Brent did get some time on the third line with Sutter & Dwyer and he seemed to be more effective there.
Gleason and Faulk's second game as a defense pairing didn't go as well as Tuesday's game against Ottawa but I didn't think either played poorly. Although, it's hard to say that they played terrific defensively when you look at how often Montreal had the puck in Carolina's zone when they were on the ice. They seemed to make up for it with their play on the penalty kill and I was especially impressed with Faulk's play there.
Matchups are an important thing to remember when you look at scoring chance numbers. Gleason/Faulk were playing against David Desharnais' line with Cole & Pacioretty for most of the game while Pitkanen & McBain were against Blake Geoffrion, Mike Blunden and Lars Eller. That definitely factored into them leading the way in scoring chances but it's hard to hold it against them considering that they did their jobs. They even started a little more in the defensive zone than they usually do, which was nice to see. It's a good thing that there is only one game left in the season because I'm not sure how Muller can continue to hide Pitkanen from first line competition while giving him the most minutes at even strength.
Jay Harrison played with the tag team of Jaro Spacek and Bryan Allen as his defense partners and neither were anything to write home about aside from Allen's spectacular play on the penalty kill. The fact that he only got around 10 minutes of even strength ice time tells me a little bit about his future on the club, though. At least from Muller's standpoint.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Pitkanen and McBain played the majority of their ice time against Montreal's third line but they did a pretty good job against everyone who they were matched up against. That's nice to see.
- The Habs switched up their defensemen a little bit so that Josh Gorges was on ice whenever one of Carolina's top two lines were and it worked well against Staal's line. Jokinen's line, however, not so much.
- Tomas Kaberle lost all but one of his matchups. Anyone else surprised? Anyone? No? Okay. Just checking.
- Interesting to see that Brandon Sutter won his matchup against the Habs first line but was outchanced by the third line instead. He was also on ice for Montreal's only goal of the game against that same line.
|MTL||2||15:29||Geoffrion - GOAL||5||16||30||39||44||53||26||30||45||57||76||81||5v5|
|CAR||2||9:58||LaRose - GOAL||4||12||19||25||30||59||14||26||27||30||76||5v4|
For the Montreal perspective, check out En Attendant Les Nordiques