On the stat sheet, last night's 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens looks like a game that the Hurricanes could/should have won but ended up losing thanks to running into a hot goaltender. They put up 43 shots against Carey Price but came away with only two goals while Montreal had only 28 shots and were outchanced 21-15. It's true that the Hurricanes had a huge advantage in shots and looked dominant at times last night, but Price was not their only problem. They may have had a chance at getting at least a point in this game if Price didn't play as well as he did but it would be a stretch to consider it anything more than that.
I mentioned in my recap last night that this game resembled the Hurricanes season because it came with many highs and lows and the scoring chance summary agrees with that sentiment.
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes 3/7/13
This was a pretty similar game to Tuesday night's win against Buffalo, only the roles were reversed. The Habs came out flying and took control of the game early on with five unanswered scoring chances and the Hurricanes began to battle back after falling down two goals. I criticized this team quite a bit for coming out flat in second periods while the game was still within reach but they did the exact opposite of that last night and just took over the game in the second period. They dominated the Canadiens in all three areas and were able to tie the game and the scary part is that they could have had a lot more if a good chunk of their shots didn't miss the net. It would have been nice had played like that while the score was tied, but they came out flat in the first period and ran out of gas in the third after Montreal took the lead. The Hurricanes terrific second period gave them a huge edge in the final stat report, but the Canes were only at the top of their game for 30-40 minutes and not for the full 60.
Some have been blaming the special teams for the loss and that's probably fair to say because they failed at critical times last night, but their overall play was not bad. Carolina created a few good chances on their earlier powerplays despite not scoring and kept Montreal's in check until the third. I loved how the Hurricanes penalty kill kept up their aggressive style and created a couple of shorthanded chances and even drew a penalty shot. It's a high risk/reward type of style but I think it works for this team, which has surrendered only four powerplay goals in their last 12 games. That being said, both special teams units had a chance to make a difference in the third period and they did, for Montreal.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forward: Jeremy Welsh +3
Worst EV Forward: Drayson Bowman -3
Best EV Defensemen: Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain & Joe Corvo +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Bobby Sanguinetti EVEN
The Hurricanes had a pretty balanced attack going last night as three of their lines were chipping during their onslaught in the second period. The first line did the bulk of the damage as expected and probably could have had more with how often they had the puck in the Montreal zone. Same goes for the second line, who I thought played the best territorially last night. The only problem with the first line's play was that they ended up giving a lot back in the other periods and had a couple of coverage breakdowns. They still managed to come away a net positive overall, though.
Despite producing seven scoring chances, neither Eric Staal or Alex Semin were able to get on the board last night and one of the players who did was Drayson Bowman, who scored on the only chance he was on ice for in the entire game. Bowman has a hell of a shot and probably could have had at least 2-3 more goals this season with a little more puck luck, but his two-way play has been lacking and it showed in a big way last night. His misplay on Alexei Emelin on the first Montreal goal being a good example of that. Both he and Jussi Jokinen were the only Carolina players with a negative even strength scoring differential last night, which is more evidence that Jokinen plays better on the wing.
Bowman got rewarded with some powerplay time after scoring his goal last night, but someone who should have gotten more ice-time was Jeremy Welsh. Despite playing less than three minutes last night, Welsh was on-ice for three scoring chances and recorded his first career NHL point with a primary assist on Bowman's goal. I don't know why Muller never uses Welsh when he's in the lineup but last night was a prime chance for him to step into a bigger role and leave a foot print here, but he wasn't given much of an opportunity to do so. When you are struggling for forward depth, you need to make the most out of your entire lineup and restricting Welsh to only four shifts is not doing that.
There weren't many standouts among the defense corps last night, although I thought McBain had a solid game and Harrison was very active offensively in that second period. He jumped in a lot and was able to keep the puck deep on multiple occassions, which was a key reason why the Canes were able to control play so much that period.
Corvo/Gleason ended up a -2 on the night but they didn't commit any egregious errors on the goals they were on-ice for and ended up winning the scoring chance battle, so there isn't much to say there.
Canadiens Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Brendan Gallagher +4
Worst EV Forwards: Tomas Plekanec -6
Best EV Defenseman: Alexei Emelin EVEN
Worst EV Defenseman: PK Subban -3
Prust, Eller and Galchenyuk produced all three even strength goals for the Canadiens last night and their strong play is reflected in the scoring chance numbers, too. They were definitely Montreal's best offensive unit last night and they managed to drive the play well even while starting a lot of shifts in their own zone. Part of the reason was because they had a lot of ice time against the Jokinen line and that ended up being a bad matchup for the Hurricanes. Pacioretty, Gallagher and Desharnais also had a very good night.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
One of the key matchups to watch last night was Eric Staal's line against Tomas Plekanec and Staal ended up on the winning end of that. Granted, Michael Ryder was limited to only nine shifts last night and Travis Moen repalced them but Staal still won his key matchup. They were also able to take advantage of whenever Francis Bouillon was on the ice with Gorges instead of Subban. It's interesting that Subban was able to contain the first line so well when you compare it to how he did against the rest of the Hurricanes, especially Wallace, Sutter & Welsh.
|1||MTL||16:38||Prust - GOAL||29||21||36||6||77||35||27||81||8||26||74||31||5v5|
|1||MTL||11:41||Gorges - GOAL||11||53||6||77||35||81||8||26||76||31||4v4|
|2||CAR||13:53||J. Staal - GOAL||11||53||39||27||44||35||14||21||73||26||76||31||5v5|
|2||CAR||9:33||Bowman - GOAL||23||8||21||4||24||35||81||20||32||55||68||31||5v5|
|2||CAR||5:08||E. Staal - PENALTY SHOT||12||28||24||44||35||51||11||67||55||68||31||4v5|
|3||MTL||13:51||Eller - GOAL||29||36||42||27||44||35||27||81||8||26||55||31||5v5|
|3||MTL||12:04||Subban - GOAL||12||36||27||44||35||27||81||73||75||79||31||4v5|