When you take a look at the roster the Hurricanes dressed tonight, you will see that they had three forwards who have never played a full-season in the NHL before, two of whom would likely be playing top-six minutes and their 7th/8th defenseman was being used as a forward. To the casual fan, this looked like an easy win for the 5th place Nashville Predators but that wasn't the case as the Hurricanes took home a 4-3 victory. The best part about it was that they outplayed Nashville for most of the game but a main reason for that was due to the Preds constantly digging their own grave with penalties.
Carolina had six powerplay opportunities tonight and scored twice, two of which were goals that either tied the game or gave them the lead. The Canes ended up outshooting and outchancing the Preds overall but they ended up trailing them at even strength. That's largely because Carolina was playing with a lead in the third period and elected not to play too aggressive. It wasn't exactly a pretty finish but it's another win. Besides, special teams is what help decide the last game when the Preds scored four PPGs so it only made sense for the roles to be switched this game, right? I'll go with that.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Nashville's are in white
Here you can see the big role that special teams played. Nashville actually had a 16-14 advantage over Carolina when it came to even strength scoring chances but their inability to stay out of the box and the Canes eventually burning them on the powerplay proved to be a big difference. Score effects also played a role late in the game because the Canes were nursing a 4-2 (quickly became 4-3) lead for the entire third period and were not attacking the Nashville zone much. Still, the powerplay is what made the difference tonight and anyone who watched the game could probably tell you that.
Still, Carolina played a pretty good game overall even if Nashville kept handing them powerplay opportunities. The way they closed out the game was pretty spotty, too and I would have preferred to see them create more offense but I was satisfied with the win, overall.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jerome Samson +6
Worst EV Forwards: Foruth line -4
Best EV Defensemen: Jay Harrison & Justin Faulk +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -4
Justin Faulk was, without a doubt, Carolina's best player tonight. Both him and Jay Harrison completely shut down the Kostitsyn-Fisher-Erat line holding them to only one shot on goal and they pitched in offensively, too. Faulk didn't have any points but he had five shots on goal and was on ice for all of Carolina's powerplay scoring chances. Faulk also led the team in ice time yet again with about 24 minutes played.
The lines were jumbled a bit tonight and Muller put Jerome Samson on the third line with Brandon Sutter & Drayson Bowman. These three were terrific at driving play in the right direction and Bowman had a couple of good chances and also drew a penalty on one of them. I'm not sure if I like this unit as a permanent fixture because Sutter's defensive play is so important to Carolina but while Patrick Dwyer is out, it might be time to test Sutter's offensive strengths with some younger linemates.
Andreas Nodl was placed on the first line with Eric Staal sometime during the second period and I honestly didn't notice him at all. Staal wasn't terribly effective at even strength but he kept his point streak alive with a goal and he tore it up on the powerplay so there's that.
Bryan Allen has been long overdue for his first goal as a Carolina Hurricane and he got it tonight. Granted, it took some perfect timing because Eric Staal hit him with a beautiful pass right as he got out of the penalty box, but it was great to see Allen finally score. Now, if there was anyone due for an even strength goal, it was Jamie McBain and he got his tonight, as well. He was on ice for about 20 consecutive even strength scoring chances without a goal coming into tonight so he was long overdue for a goal. Unfortunately, him and Spacek played very poor in their own zone tonight and McBain made a horrible turnover on the Colin Smith goal. After playing so well for the past week, I guess these two were also due for an off game.
Jeff Skinner's line couldn't seem to do much at even strength and I guess this is what happens when you have two small wingers matched up against the mountain of a man known as Hal Gill. That's a pretty big mismatch based on size alone even if Gill has the mobility of a tortoise. Still, he did his job at even strength in limiting Skinner and Jokinen. Skinner played much better on the powerplay, though and played a key role in both goals.
The fourth line was very poor tonight at preventing chances and they seemed to get pinned in their own zone more often than others. Stewart had an assist, but these three were also on ice for all three of Nashville's goals. They were unable to clear the puck on multiple occasions and that ended upr really hurting the team. Brent was at least great on the powerplay, though.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Faulk and Harrison did a fantastic job tonight at outplaying anything Nashville put up against them. They were particularly good against Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, which is pretty damn impressive.
- When matching up power with power, Staal's line managed to out-duel Nashville's first unit at even strength and they weren't beaten by Weber/Suter, either.
- Brandon Sutter's main matchup tonght was Mike Fisher's line. You tell me how he did.
- Rough night for Tim Gleason, who lost all of his matchups and wasn't exactly active at the other end, either. He did make a good play to deny a scoring chance in the last few minutes of the game but that's all I can remember from my recollection