The final frame has been Carolina's enemy all season long and tonight's game had recipe for disaster written all over it. The Canes were being outplayed slightly by Pittsburgh for the first two periods but were able to take a 3-0 lead into the third by containing them in the neutral zone, killing penalties well and Ward had to stand on his head a few times, especially in the first period. Then things got really crazy in the third with the Pens finally putting a stranglehold on Carolina and clawing their way back into the game and eventually tie it up at a 3-3. Carolina had to endure seven unanswered chances from the Penguins in that period before the Canes finally established an attack of their own and reclaimed the lead with a goal from Eric Staal. All Staal did was go to the side of the crease and pick up the loose change after Chad LaRose got a shot on net. Sometimes that's all you need to do to break a slump.
After that point, Carolina finally settled things down and allowed only two Pittsburgh scoring chances the rest of the way and snapped a four game losing skid. Ward certainly earned this win with how many times he was forced to stop Evgeni Malkin and James Neal tonight.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes 11/12/11 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Pittsburgh's are in yellow
To get an idea of how crazy that third period was, I'll mention how both teams generated more chances in that period alone (20) than they did in the first two combined (18). That is pretty ridiculous. That is also the period where the Pens really turned on the afterburners and took it right to the Canes and tied the game. Scoring effects play a role here because the Canes had the lead for the first 13 minutes or so, but they still gave up way too many chances. The good news is that the Canes responded and created plenty of chances on there own in the third too, which was key to them winning this game.
The powerplay really stunk tonight. They had four opportunities (although one was negated nine seconds in) and only created two chances total. They also gave up more chances with the man advantage than they created including another shorthanded goal. The penalty kill was the exact opposite as they only allowed one scoring chance and created one (Dwyer's breakaway). At least one part of the special teams has picked it up a little.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu +3
Worst EV Forward: Brandon Sutter -5
Best EV Defenseman: Tomas Kaberle +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -7
Paul Maurice shook up the defense a little bit with Joni Pitkanen out and split-up the Gleason/Allen pairing. Jay Harrison was put with Tim Gleason and they were assigned Evgeni Malkin's line for most of this game. That should tell you why they ended up on the negative end of the spectrum here. They were on ice for a lot of chances but they gave up a TON in their own end, as well. Harrison's been receiving favorable matchups and zone starts for most of the year and he was thrown into a much bigger role this game and the numbers indicate that he struggled. A lot. Then again, Malkin and Neal both had career games tonight so I don't think Harrison will see his numbers look this bad again.
Brandon Sutter was also thrown into a different role this game as he was put on the first line and started nearly all of his shifts in the offensvie zone. I think that's a first for him. Unfortunately, he ended up negative in scoring chances and was a -4 in corsi, as well. However, Maurice elected to fight fire with fire and put his top line against Pittsburgh's so that's probably why. I understand wanting to put Sutter against Malkin and Neal but seeking out a more favorable matchup may have been better. The same goes for Staal but his goal came when Pitt's top line was on the ice so I guess I can't complain.
It should surprise no one that Jokinen, Skinner and Ruutu were the team's best forwards. They were a force tonight and played a huge role in Carolina's first three goals. They were the one line that was effective for the entire 60 minutes. McBain, Kaberle, Allen and Joslin all turned in solid performances at even strength and Allen deserves a lot of credit for his play on the penalty kill. Same goes for Harrison even if he was shelled at even strength. McBain and Allen actually had the toughest zone starts out of all defensemen tonight so big props goes to them for that.
I must say that I'm worried about how the powerplay will be without Pitkanen. Kaberle was just awful at quarterbacking the powerplay tonight and McBain wasn't particuarly good either.
Zach Boychuk returns to the doldrums of the fourth line and only took seven shifts tonight. After how well he's done in the top-six, I hope this changes.
Head-to-Head at even strength
Evgeni Malkin and James Neal played one of the best games I have ever seen in awhile. Neither of them scored but they were on ice for 13 of the Penguins chances. That is unbelievable. Malkin created eight chances at even strength and had 12 shots on goal. It is going to be scary what this team will look like when they are completely healthy. You can see most of the of the work those two did came against our first line and top defense pairing. Jordan Staal was also placed on that line and he had a very good game winning almost all of his matchups. Chris Kunitz did a lot of damage, as well.
The good thing is that Maurice was able to keep Skinner's line away from Pitt's top line and they had a really favorable matchup against Pittsburgh's third line and they took advantage of it big time. They were also able to get a few matchups against Pittsburgh's third defense pairing and they also took advantage of that. Pittsburgh's third line was pretty bad tonight and it really shows the lack of depth this team has in it's forward corps right now. Although, that is mostly due to a ton of injuries.
Bryan Allen quietly had a good game but he didn't play that many minutes (fewest at even strength among defensemen). I'm interested to see how he's used for the rest of the season. McBain won all of his matchups but not by a wide margin, but what he did is impressive given how many shifts he started in the shadow of his own goaltender.
Going by this, you can tell that the Canes got pretty lucky with winning this game but I think a lot of credit goes to Cam Ward and the second line for getting things done. After losing four in a row, I will take any kind of win and was pleased with the outcome tonight.
|CAR||1||18:39||Skinner - GOAL||15||27||30||36||51||53||1||7||12||24||45||58||5v5|
|CAR||2||4:09||Ruutu - GOAL||15||27||30||36||51||53||1||5||12||25||44||45||5v5|
|CAR||2||0:57||Ruutu - GOAL||4||5||15||30||36||53||1||2||24||45||46||54||5v5|
|PIT||3||18:20||Staal - GOAL||6||12||16||30||44||59||1||2||11||18||54||71||5v5|
|PIT||3||15:17||Staal - GOAL||4||12||30||36||51||53||1||7||11||24||44||5v4|
|CAR||3||4:34||Staal - GOAL||5||6||12||30||37||59||1||7||14||18||58||71||5v5|
|CAR||3||2:30||LaRose - GOAL||6||12||16||30||44||59||1||7||11||18||58||71||5v5|