Last night's 4-2 win over the Islanders was an ugly win for the Hurricanes, so it probably won't surprise you to hear that they were outchanced at even strength. The Canes have made somewhat of a habit of pulling out wins like this as last night was only the fifth time this season they were outchanced and the third time they won a game where that happened. I'm not sure what that says about the team but at least they were able to pull out a win despite not being at their best for the entire game. We've seen this team put together better performances than last night and not be rewarded for it, so I guess you can consider this making up for lost luck.
The roster not being at 100% obviously effects how well this team can control play at even strength, so any wins are good right now. The Canes have enough forward to get by right now and some of their depth players have performed admirably in these last three games or so. The defense, however, is hurting badly and it's had a big impact on Carolina's territorial play. All teams have to go through injuries, but that doesn't change the fact have a noticable talent drop-off after their first pairing. The Canes do have some organizational depth on their blue line, but it's hard to expect guys from the AHL to slide into Pitkanen, Gleason and McBain's roles without some growing pains. This group will have their good and bad nights but defensive breakdowns and mistakes are going to happen that will result in some grade-A scoring chances for the opposing team. This is what we've been seeing the last few games but the Canes were still able to edge out a win despite the defensive lapses, so let's be happy but cautious going forward.
Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders 2/24/13
This game can be broken down into a few different sections. There was the first 10 minutes of the first period where the Islanders jumped on top of the Hurricanes with three unanswered chances and two goals. The Hurricanes would then mount a score-effect driven attack and were close to getting one past Kevin Poulin but couldn't. The Islanders would then take over in the second period, holding the Hurricanes to only one scoring chance in the first sixteen minutes. Then the Canes got a lucky goal on the powerplay and followed it with another goal shortly after. They were able to carry this over to the third period, take over the game and edge out a win.
The Canes may have started badly and ended up on the wrong side of things at even strength, but it was good to see them turn things on when the game was on the line. Special teams also played a crucial role in the Hurricanes getting the win because not only did they score on the powerplay, they didn't allow the Islanders to do much on any of their three man-advantage opportunities. After the beating they took on their last visit to Long Island, a special teams performance like that was huge.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jordan Staal +3
Worst EV Forward: Alexander Semin -5
Best EV Defensemen: Justin Faulk & Jay Harrison +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Michal Jordan -3
The team's blue-line troubles are pretty easy to spot here, as the top-minute guys played well (Faulk & Harrison) but things got worse the further you go down the depth chart. Corvo and Sanguinetti both had rough nights when it came to playing in their own end and Jordan took quite a beating in limited ice-time. I thought Sanguinetti looked strong for most of the game, save for the Tavares goal where he fell down, but he may have been just a little over his head with the tougher assignments. I have to say, though, that I'm impressed at how consistent Faulk has been this season. It always seems like he is on top of his game no matter how the team around him performs on who he is paired with. He could end up panning out much better than anyone thought.
Unfortunately for the top line, they were on-ice for many of the defensive breakdowns and both Semin and Eric Staal ended up getting lit up in the scoring chance department. I don't think they were at fault for this, but they had troubling getting the puck out of their zone in the second period on more than a couple occasions. I think they improved once Chad LaRose was placed on this line but it didn't save them from an ugly performance here. It's easily Semin's worst defensive performance of the season but he also had a three-point night so all is forgotten.
Jordan Staal's line started the game off slow but they came alive in the third period and were primarily responsible for the Hurricanes surge in that frame which ultimately won them the game. I don't think Dwyer or Jokinen will stay on Jordan's line for a long time, but their play last night was an example of how Staal can elevate the play of his linemates as the entire team performed better whenever he was on the ice. He was also the reason why Tavares was very quiet after the first period.
Among the depth players, Bowman and Nash both had solid nights and the latter nearly got his first career goal during the third period. I'd like to see how he does with Bowman for at least a couple more games to see if he has any staying power in the NHL because he has done well in his call-up stint thus far. Although, Muller placing Jiri Tlusty on this line in the third period definitely helped him a bit.
Islanders Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Frans Nielsen +3
Worst EV Forward: Michael Grabner -4
Best EV Defenseman: Radek Martinek +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Lubomir Visnovsky -2
The Tavares line's matchup against Jordan Staal's ended up being a stalemate at even strength, but Staal got the last laugh since the game-winning goal came with his line on the ice against Tavares'. While that matchup was going on, the Canes were able to expose the Reasoner line and hold both Grabner & Okposo in check at even strength. Things may have been different if Frans Nielsen was the one centering this line, though. He had a very strong game overall but couldn't do much with Aucoin and Bailey on his wing.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Like I said earlier, J. Staal ended up getting the last laugh against Tavares and his line was also able to expose Reasoner's line whenever they were on the ice. The Canes third line also did some good work against that unit and were even able to create some offense against Tavares. Reasoner's line was the only unit of the Islanders who struggled to win any of their matchups which is probably why they ended up not playing many minutes compared to their other forwards.
Scoring Chance Log
|1||NYI||15:22||Moulson - GOAL||11||39||36||27||77||30||91||24||26||11||14||60||5v5|
|1||NYI||7:35||Tavares - GOAL||12||19||28||24||44||30||91||24||26||2||3||60||5v5|
|2||CAR||1:32||E. Staal - GOAL||12||19||28||7||27||30||51||40||3||47||60||5v4|
|2||CAR||0:48||J. Staal - GOAL||11||28||39||27||77||30||16||21||40||3||11||60||5v5|
|3||CAR||9:43||Sanguinetti - GOAL||11||39||36||24||44||30||91||24||26||2||47||60||5v5|