The Hurricanes managed to pull out a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils last night and they did it on the back of one of their weakest offensive performances of the young season. The Devils held Carolina to only nine scoring chances at even strength and 12 overall, which are season lows for the Hurricanes this season. New Jersey is also only the third team this season to outchance the Hurricanes this year, so you could probably classify this as another game the Canes won despite not having their best showing. While that might be true, I think the Canes played a solid game considering the circumstances (last game of a six game road trip and the second night of a back-to-back) and against a very tough opponent in the Devils.
Still, I think it's worth pointing out that the Canes have not outchanced an opponent at even strength since the Toronto game last Monday and haven't been nearly as good at even strength as they were earlier in the season. It might be due to a combination of them playing in more close games and having their last six on the road. A return to the PNC Arena might help fix this but until then, let's enjoy the fact that they won four out of six games on this road trip.
Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils 2/13/13
The Hurricanes came flying out of the gates last night and were able to pin the Devils into their own zone for long stretches of time. Unfortunately, it didn't result in the Canes dominating in scoring chances because they weren't getting as many good shots on net as they probably should have. Six even strength chances in a period isn't bad, though. The Devils didn't have many shots in that frame either but the ones they were getting on net were from in close.
Carolina's even strength play teetered off as the game went on and they didn't record any 5v5 chances in the third period. Joni PItkanen didn't play that period so I think that had a factor in it but the Hurricanes also looked completely exhausted by that time. It's safe to say that this road trip could not have ended at a better time since it looked like the Hurricanes were showing some wear and tear during the third period. They managed to get the two points in the end with the help of a powerplay goal, though.
Pete DeBoer's Devils are usually good very good at limiting other team's opportunities at even strength and the Devils were able to do just that for most of the second and third period. The only downside was that they weren't creating much of their own, as they didn't record more than four even strength scoring chances in a period last night. That's generally how they roll, though. I've tracked a fair amount of Devils games and I'm pretty sure their team high in total scoring chances per game is 16.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Andreas Nodl, Tim Wallace & Tim Brent +1
Worst EV Forwards: Drayson Bowman & Patrick Dwyer -3
Best EV Defenseman: Joni Pitkanen +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -3
With this being such a low-event game, there weren't many players who had outrageously good or awful numbers. Jiri Tlusty had two goals, yes but his line was pretty quiet at even strength compared to their usual performances. Jordan Staal's line also ended up on the negative end here despite being the team's best offensive unit at even strength last night and it's mostly because they were on-ice for a few chances against in the third period. Dwyer especially got roughed up a bit defensively.
Also take note of how Pitkanen was the team's only defenseman to have a positive scoring chance differential at even strength last night. It's probably due to him not playing the entire third period but you can also make the case that the rest of the defense suffered without him. Pitkanen was easily the team's most active defenseman in the first period when the Canes were skating circles around New Jersey.
The fourth line ended up laying more minutes than the third line and they deserved it. Nodl, Wallace and Brent didn't create much offense but they didn't give up anything in their own end, established a physical presence and forechecked well. In other words, they played their role to a T, something the third line should take note of.
Devils Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Ryan Carter & Ilya Kovalchuk +3
Worst EV Forward: Krystofer Barch -2
Best EV Defensemen: Anton Volchenkov & Mark Zidlicky +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Adam Larsson & Bryce Salvador -1
I thought the Canes did an okay job at containing Ilya Kovalchuk during five-on-five play last night but it turns out he was more of a factor offensively than I gave him credit for. His line with Matteau and Zajac actually did a pretty solid job at playing at both ends and Kovalchuk was on-ice for over half of the Devils even strength scoring chances. New Jersey also received some solid play out of their bottom-six too with Ryan Carter creating three scoring chances on his own and Gionta adding a shorthanded chance in the final minute of the game.
Those two lines played well but the Hurricanes were able to keep Henrique and Clarkson in check for most of the game and they were also able to capitalize whenever the Devils fourth line was on the ice.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Jordan Staal's line lost their matchup against New Jersey's top unit and they also struggled to do much of anything against Anton Volchenkov and Marek Zidlicky, who rated as New Jersey's best defensemen last night. The only line Jordan Staal's unit was able to create a decent amount of offense against was the Henrique line, who had somewhat of a forgettable night.
Aside from that, just about every New Jersey line won their key matchups last night. The one exception being the fourth line, who were inexplicably left out against Eric Staal's unit long enough for them to create a scoring chance.
Scoring Chance Report
|1||NJD||4:01||Kovalchuk - GOAL||11||19||6||27||30||14||23||17||26||2||30||4v5|
|2||CAR||18:24||Jokinen - GOAL||11||53||36||25||77||30||14||26||6||29||30||5v4|
|2||CAR||1:31||Dwyer - GOAL||11||53||39||27||44||30||20||11||18||5||6||30||5v5|
|3||NJD||18:27||Carter - GOAL||11||39||21||27||44||30||20||11||18||2||28||30||5v5|
|3||CAR||12:35||Tlusty - GOAL||12||19||37||28||4||30||14||26||24||28||30||5v4|