The main thing I talked about in the preview was how Cam Ward is showing signs of his usual self and that the Canes should see more wins as a result even if they continue to be outshot night in and night out. Tonight's game seemed to fit that prediction well as the Canes were outshot 37-22 at even strength and outchanced 20-13, but were able to pick up a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Penguins thanks to a marvelous 40 save performance by Ward. He may have actually needed to do more if it wasn't for the 24 blocked shots and 21 misses. It is safe to say that the Pens controlled this game after the first period but it was good to see the Canes steal a point and continue to work their way out of the cellar.
However, the result of the game isn't terribly important to Canes fans at the moment as we are all wondering about the status of Jeff Skinner, who took a huge hit in the neutral zone from Brooks Orpik and had to leave the game with what looked like another head injury. He returned later in the third period but he could have suffered another concussion for all we know since he was clearly woozy after taking that hit. One would hope that the team doctors wouldn't let him back into the game if he had a head injury so we are all hoping for the best right now.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes 1/17/12 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Pittsburgh's chances are in white
Carolina played great in the first period and it looked like this game would be a lot more even in terms of shots and possession but for whatever reason, the wheels fell off for the Canes after the first 20 minutes. The main problem was that the Canes couldn't create too many chances and they had some serious issues with their zone entries, especially in the third period where they had a grand total of one scoring chance. The 4-on-4 play in overtime really helped them in regards to both of those issues and nearly stole two points. Definitely shows you how much luck is involved in overtime and the shootout.
The only thing I was really disappointed in was how poor the the Canes played with the man advantage. They had three powerplay opportunities and their one scoring chance came on a desperation play at the end of the second period. Their powerplay looked just plain awful tonight but they were going up against a great penalty killing team so that's worth taking into account. Still, one scoring chance with six minutes of 5-on-4 time is pretty bad no matter which way you slice it.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jussi Jokinen +1
Worst EV Forward: Brandon Sutter & Andreas Nodl -5
Best EV Defenseman: Bryan Allen & Jusitn Faulk -1
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain -4
When you're taking on one of the league's elite players who is currently on a hot streak, you're gonna need more than one pairing to shut him down and that's what Carolina did against Evgeni Malkin last night. Gleason/Allen and Harrison/Faulk were both used against the Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line and the latter appeared to play better against them according to the head-to-head report. Allen and Gleason had a better night defensively as they gave up less chances but Faulk did better against tougher competition. The issue with Faulk and Harrison was that they gave up a lot in their own end, especially Harrison. Starting to feel like a broken record with this, am I? Nodl-Sutter-Dwyer didn't exactly have a great night defensively either and that's disappointing after how well they've been playing lately.
Eric Staal also played a considerable amount of time against Malkin & started six draws in his own zone, so he definitely had some defensive responsibilities in this game and was on ice for eight scoring chances against. He was one of the few players who had a good night offensively but with the Penguins giving Malkin a boatload of ice time (over 24 minutes), someone had to take on the other tough assignments and that ended up being Staal's line. Almost like a flashback to last season, eh? Ruutu also had a decent game offensively but Tlusty struggled a lot. I wouldn't be surprised to see his tenure on the first line come to an end.
With Staal handling the tough assignments, Jeff Skinner's line got the offensive zone draws and the most effective member appeared to be Jokinen. When Skinner was injured, Jokinen and Ponikarovsky were mixed and matched with other forwards and the scoring chances only went in the Canes favor when Jokinen was on the ice. Poni-Skinner-Jokinen could have done better when you consider the amount of protection they got but they were on ice for the Canes only goal.
The guy who scored that goal, Jamie McBain, had a pretty rough night and that was with him being used in easier situations compared to Faulk/Harrison and Gleason/Allen. I said on Twitter that he should be fine in offensive situations but this was not one of those cases but no blue-liner on the team had a positive rating so it's not like he was alone with his struggles.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Nodl-Sutter-Dwyer didn't exactly defend the Malkin line that well but I guess these three were due for an off-night soon. Thankfully they weren't on ice for a goal against, at least.
- I said earlier that Gleason/Allen were good against weaker competition and this proves it as they were able outchance players like Richard Park, Craig Adams and Matt Cooke but their performance against the Malkin line wasn't that good. Harrison and Faulk on the other hand were much better against those three. Faulk in particular had a great showing agianst those three as he neutralized them at even strength.
- Matt Niskanen and Ben Lovejoy outchanced everyone the Canes matched up agianst them. I think that's the sixteenth time this year that a third pairing has done that to us.
- One good thing about the Staal line's performance was that they did play well against Pittsburgh's main defensive units and that should hopefully lead to good things going forward.
- Aside from Tim Brent's fight with Joe Vitale, the fourth line was completely invisible and neither three played that many minutes.
|CAR||1||17:49||McBain - GOAL||4||23||27||30||36||53||4||7||12||26||29||48||5v5|