For what I feel like is the twentieth time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes played a solid game for about 40 minutes, took a lead into the third period only to give it up and lose the game in overtime. That might be a bit of an exgerration, but I feel like I've seen this script way too many times this season and seeing this team constantly blow leads eventually grates on you.
Tonight's 4-3 loss to the Jets was especially frustrating because it seemed like Carolina had control of this game for the first two periods but let things slip away by playing poorly in the third period. While Carolina did have a huge advantage in shots, they were not winning the battle at even strength at all. Both teams were tied with 10 even strength chances through two periods of play and what gave Carolina the advantage was the excellent play of their penalty kill and their powerplay producing seven scoring chances.
Those helped the Canes out on the shot and chance chart, but not on the scoreboard. It's not too often you see a team create that many powerplay chances and not get rewarded for it, but that was the case tonight. Had they scored on one of those chances, then this could have been a different game but it's hard to fault the failed powerplay for the other things that went wrong in the third period.
There's a lot of things to breakdown but I think this stat sums things up well. The Hurricanes held the Jets to 16 shots on goal through the first two periods. They allowed 18 in the third alone. Protecting a lead. How does it work?
Scoring chances & more after the jump
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Winnipeg's are in white
Had Carolina scored on one of their powerplays, it would have made up for the lackluster performance at even strength. The chances were certainly there and they were moving the puck very well, but they just couldn't score. It's pretty disappointing because on most of their powerplays, they were doing everything right besides getting the puck in the back of the net. Part of the reason was Chris Mason and part of it was just poor luck. Conversely, Winnipeg had two double minors to work with and they weren't impressive on any of them, but the difference was that they actually scored on one of their opportunities and it ended up making a big difference.
If you couple the powerplay's poor fortunes with Carolina's inability to take control of the game at even strength and Winnipeg outplaying them in the third period, you have a recipe for a very frustrating loss. It's hard to pin the blame on one person in general because there were mistakes all-around tonight and ultimately, the Canes took the loss and are now officially eliminated from playoff contention (which I thought happened last week).
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jussi Jokinen +4
Worst EV Forwards: Patrick Dwyer, Eric Staal, Drayson Bowman, Anthony Stewart -3
Best EV Defensemen: Bryan Allen & Tim Gleason +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -5
Yet another strong game for the "Skinn & Finns" line as they outchanced everything the Jets threw their way by a wide margin. Jokinen was the highest rated player on this line but Skinner was the driving force. He had five shots on goal, made more than a few great plays in the offensive zone and probably could have scored a goal had it not been for Mason. He also set-up Derek Joslin's goa with a beautiful back-handedl when he was being double-shifted on the fourth line. It's too bad the Canes are now out of the race because this line is starting to produce like they were last season.
Eric Staal had a weak game at even strength but he did a lot of damage at special teams. The top powerplay unit with him, LaRose, Faulk, Tlusty and Brent produced a lot of scoring chances and Staal was extremley effective at killing penalties too. His shorthanded goal tonight was one of the best goals he has scored in his career, and he made a lot of great efforts to keep Winnipeg out of the offensive zone. Penalty killing hasn't been one of Staal's better attributes this season, but it was tonight.
Both Justin Faulk & Jay Harrison had very forgettable nights at even strength and Faulk made quite a few bad plays. I'm not sure what he was thinking on Jim Slater's goal, but his decision to lay a hit on Zach Bogosian led to the Jets getting a two-on-one and eventually a goal. He didn't exacty look great on Nik Antropov's goal, either and he was also on ice for the game-winning goal for the Jets. That one I can't fault him too much, because he was in the right position and tried to deflect the puck out of play. Unfortunately, it took a bad bounce and went right into the slot where Andrew Ladd was able to easily score the OT winner. Needless to say, he had a rough game.
The team's main defensive units weren't exactly spectacular tonight when defending Winnipeg's top line of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler & Bryan Little. The trio produced half of the Jets' even strength scoring chances and they seemed to do some damage against everyone, but the Sutter line was hit the hardest. They did produce a goal and managed to keep Wheeler's line off the scoresheet, but Cam Ward and the goalpost helped them out a little there. Gleason & Allen had a good game overall but they recorded most of their chances against Antropov's line. They didn't fare so well when going up against Winnipeg's top-six. On the opposite end, Pitkanen & McBain got the most offensvie zone starts and were even in chances. I'm going to assume that isn't very good.
Earleir today, I wrote an article about how we could improve the fourth line and tonight's game is a perfect example of why I wouldn't mind seeing a few upgrades here. Yes, Joslin scored a nice goal but it came when Skinner was being double-shifted on that line. He also gave one back at the other-end by failing to cover Antropov in the slot early in the game. I love that Anthony Stewart stuck up for his teammate by challenging Bogosian but how much of an impact did he have other than that? He wasn't on ice for any Carolina scoring chances and his back-checking on the Slater goal was dreadful.
Carolina can't expect to win games when they have only one line that's producing the majority of chances at even strength. The second line showed up tonight, but the first line struggled when playing five-on-five, the third line was stuck defending for most of the game and the fourth line did nothing aside from that Joslin goal (when Skinner was playing there). Things aren't usually this lopsided, but there's been a lot of nights where everyone in the top-six hasn't been producing, tonight's game being an example.
Head-to-Head at five-on-five
- Ladd-Little-Wheeler killed it tonight. The only unit they didn't outchance was the Jokinen line and they won most of their main matchups, which would be the Sutter line and the Gleason/Allen defense pairing.
- Like I said earlier, Gleason & Allen feasted on Winnipeg's third line while they struggled with their tougher matchup. Not sure what that says about them but it's good to see Faulk/Harrison have a respectable performance against that line despite playing poorly otherwise.
- Skinner's line wasn't matched up with any defense pairing in particular since it appears that Claude Noel mixed things up a bit, but they seemed to do most of their damage against Ron Hainsey & Zach Bogosian.
- No one in Winnipeg's defense corps had an awful game at even strength but Byfuglien/Enstrom seemed to give up a lot of chances and Byfuglien had a few horrendous blunders on the powerplay.
Winnipeg Jets Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Andrew Ladd & Bryan Little +6
Worst EV Forward: Nikolai Antropov -4
Best EV Defenseman: Zach Bogosian +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Tobias Enstrom EVEN
|WPG||1||17:37||Antropov - GOAL||13||27||28||30||37||44||9||13||33||39||50||80||5v5|
|CAR||1||8:38||Joslin - GOAL||4||25||27||30||37||53||5||15||19||24||46||50||5v5|
|CAR||1||3:15||Staal - GOAL||5||12||19||28||30||14||16||18||26||33||50||4v5|
|CAR||2||16:11||Sutter - GOAL||5||6||16||21||30||39||13||14||33||39||50||80||5v5|
|WPG||3||4:47||Wellwood - GOAL||5||6||16||30||39||4||13||20||39||50||80||4v5|
|WPG||4||4:45||Ladd - GOAl||12||28||30||44||59||4||16||18||24||50||4v4|