Last night's game against the Islanders had all the makings of another loss for the Hurricanes. Carolina got off to a bad start, were dominated on special teams and generally looked slow compared to the Islanders for the first 25 minutes or so. Once again, however, the Canes were able to keep things from getting out of hand thanks to some timely goals and began to take over the game mid-way through the second period which helped them defeat the Islander 6-4. Slow starts have been a problem for this team all season long but this team has shown a lot of resilience at least and they wre able to pull a win out in Long Island on the back of four third period goals.
The Hurricanes ended up outshooting the Islanders and tying them in even strength chances, but the slow starts and terrible penalty kill are a big issue. Their comeback effort ended up working out against the Islanders and Rick DiPietro but something tells me they will have a more difficult time against other teams and better goaltenders. There were definitely a lot of Hurricanes who played well last night, but the team will need to play better for a full 60 minutes if they want to take home a win against New Jersey tonight.
Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders 2/11/13
The Hurricanes were able to salvage a horrible first period by getting a deflection goal from Tim Wallace to tie the score. They were still dramatically outplayed by the Islanders in that frame but started to turn it on in the second period and took control of the game once they fell down 3-2. They were a bit lucky to enter the third period down by only one goal but the Canes did a great job of taking things over from then on and earning two points. It's also worth mentioning that they got a couple of very good bounces in their favor, particularly on the Alexander Semin goal which deflected off of Travis Hamonic. This team had a shooting percentage of only 6.6% at even strength, so they were bound to have a few things go in their favor there. It was also appropriate that it was Semin credited with the goal since he hasn't had much shooting luck at all at even strength.
I'm at a loss for words as far as the penalty kill is concerned. They gave up four scoring chances in a little under four minutes of PK time and all of them ended up being goals. The Canes were actually doing some good things in the earlier sequences of their kills but one or two mental mistakes ended up with the Islanders putting the puck in the back of their net. This team has a real problem with getting mesmerized by the puck-carrier which results in leaving guys wide open in prime scoring areas like they did to Matt Moulson on his goal. I suspect that this will be something Kirk Muller will work on after the road trip because this is the third time this season the Canes have given up three or more goals in a game on the penalty kill.
Again, the Hurricanes did a nice job of battling back but they aren't going to get this lucky against better teams if they continue to play poorly in the first period.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jiri Tlusty +4
Worst EV Forwards: Drayson Bowman & Chad LaRose -6
Best EV Defenseman: Joe Corvo +6
Worst EV Defensemen: Justin Faulk -5
For what I am sure is the first time this season, the Hurricanes had both of their top two lines clicking and the Eric Staal line really caught fire in the third period by producing two goals. Semin's goal didn't even count as a scoring chance and this unit still managed to produce at least six chances on their own throughout the game. Jordan Staal's line also did some great work in the second and third periods as this unit's play at both ends is getting better with every game. Jeff Skinner in particular has really improved throughout the year and it's good to see his underlying number reflect his boxcar stats more than they did at the beginning of the season. Jiri Tlusty also had a fantastic game and deserved all four points he recorded.
The Hurricanes fourth line also had a decent game with Muller activating Andreas Nodl in place of Kevin Westgarth. This proved to be a good move as the fourth line was able to play 8-10 minutes last night and they all played their role fine. The only line that wasn't able to do that would be the third line, who were dominated territorially by the Islanders depth forwards. This line was actually on-ice for most of the chances the Islanders recorded in the first period, so it's becoming more apparent that this unit is part of the problem and I wouldn't be surprised if Muller decides to change things up with these three forwards. Bowman, LaRose and Jokinen should be capable of beating other team's third and fourth lines territorially and in the scoring chance battle but they have failed at that so far this season.
Muller also changed up the defense pairings by inserting Jamie McBain back into the lineup and reuniting him with Joni PItkanen while Corvo/Gleason and Faulk/Harrison rounded out the other pairings. Corvo and Gleason were fantastic last night and Corvo had another strong game that will hopefully keep him in the lineup over Sanguinetti. He actually played "first pairing" minutes along with Gleason last night, so his performance was actually very impressive. The reason why "first pairing" is in quotations is because Muller distributed the ice-times evenly, which is probably a good thing with the back-to-back.
Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison really struggled at both ends of the rink last night. You would think that these two would have some chemistry because they played together for most of last season but they had a lot of problems with containing the Islanders forecheck, especially in the first period. I'm not too concerned, though since Faulk has had more good games than bad this season.
Islanders Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: John Tavares & Michael Grabner +2
Worst EV Forward: Frans Nielsen -3
Best EV Defenseman: Thomas Hickey +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Andrew MacDonald -3
The Islanders top line played well and so did a few of their depth forwards but their tough-minute players got beaten up pretty badly. Nielsen's line along with Andy Macdonald could not win their matchup against Eric Staal's line. Travis Hamonic managed to come out okay, though despite spending a lot of time against the Hurricanes top-six.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The first line won all of their matchups against the Islanders top-nine while the second line managed to keep the Tavares line somewhat in check at even strength. Tavares managed to do some significant damage against the Hurricanes third line, though which was probably the result of either a bad line change or Capuano getting a favorable matchup at home. Three of the five scoring chances Tavares was on-ice for in this game came against the third line, who had trouble containing anyone they were matched up against.
Another interesting note, Josh Bailey was actually promoted to the second line in place of Michael Grabner in the second period and you tell here that move did not work out at all. Grabner wasn't outchancing the Hurricanes first line but he certainly performed better than Bailey.
Scoring Chance Report
|1||NYI||17:12||Nielsen - GOAL||37||39||6||27||30||10||12||51||3||47||39||4v5|
|1||CAR||6:18||Wallace - GOAL||37||14||29||4||25||30||10||13||41||11||37||39||5v5|
|2||NYI||14:37||Tavares - GOAL||11||19||25||77||30||91||24||26||2||11||39||4v5|
|2||CAR||14:08||Skinner - GOAL||11||53||39||6||77||30||12||51||21||2||14||39||5v5|
|2||NYI||12:15||Moulson - GOAL||29||36||4||44||30||91||24||26||2||11||39||4v5|
|3||CAR||10:51||E. Staal - GOAL||12||19||28||27||44||30||91||24||26||3||47||39||5v5|
|3||NYI||8:28||Visnovsky - GOAL||11||39||6||27||30||91||24||26||2||11||39||4v5|
What is the answer on the third line? All three of those guys seem to be competent third-line players, but they can't seem to get it together. With Ruu not coming back any time soon, what shakeups are available? We don't want to disturb the top six, which has been great. Promote Nodl and put LaRose on the 4th?