Don't look now but the Hurricanes have outchanced their opponents in each of their first three games this year and they managed to do it last night without the "aid" of score effects, as they were playing with the score tied or with a lead for most of the contest. Yesterday's game was easily Carolina's most impressive performance in this still very young season. Not only did they get the win, they also recorded a season-high 22 scoring chances and outplayed Buffalo in all three areas.
They didn't completely mow the Sabres over at even strength (chances were only 15-13 during 5v5 play) but they more than made up for it on special teams by completely shutting down the Sabres powerplay. Losing the special teams battle was one of the main problems for the Hurricanes in their first two games and they did a great job of improving on it against Buffalo.
Scoring chance breakdown coming after the jump.
Sabres at Hurricanes 1/24/13
Things were pretty tight at even strength thanks to a third period comeback effort by the Sabres, but Carolina pulled away in the chance department because of their great work on special teams. They created more chances shorthanded than the Sabres did on the powerplay and added on four powerplay chances on top of that. The only special teams marker they had was Justin Faulk's shorthanded goal in the second period but their effort on both units was very strong.
This was a pretty fun game to watch because while the first period was relatively conservative and defense-oriented, all hell broke loose in the second. The Hurricanes had an offensive explosion with 21 shots, 12 scoring chances and four goals on top of that. The team was playing a much more aggressive style then and it definitely worked in their favor as they look a lot more comfortable playing a more open style instead of just sitting back and being "safe" and conservative. That's actually what resulted in Buffalo getting a slight offensive outburst in the third period. This team is going to give up their share of chances, but it may not be as big of a problem if they outscore and outplay their opponents like they did last night.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jiri Tlusty & Alexander Semin +4
Worst EV Forward: Drayson Bowman -4
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +3
Worst EV Defensemen: Tim Gleason & Justin Faulk
The first line of Eric Staal, Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin was on fire last night, creating roughly half of Carolina's even strength scoring chances and producing three goals. All of which came off the captain's stick. E. Staal spent a good amount of time with some different linemates, which is why he came away even in chance differential, but these three were a force when they were together. Semin didn't record any points last night but he definitely made an impact on this line and he will get his first of the year very, very soon.
At even strength, Jordan Staal didn't have his best defensive game as he gave up a lot to the Pominville-Hodgson-Vanek line but he managed to produce enough offense to break even at 5v5 play. The penalty kill is where J. Staal did his best work, though. He recorded an assist on Faulk's shorthanded goal and allowed only one chance to the Sabres strong powerplay. It's only three games into the year but Jordan has looked very strong for the Hurricanes thus far.
The reunion of Joni Pitkanen and Jamie McBain went about as well as I thought it would. They were very good in terms of producing offense but they also gave up quite a few chances in their own end, as well. They weren't on-ice for any goals and Pitkanen ended up being a +4, but they probably won't be so lucky in future games. Both players did record primary assists, though and Pitkanen did some solid work on the PK on top of that.
Tim Gleason and Justin Faulk also surrendered quite a few chances and came out on the negative end of the scoring chance spectrum for the first time this season. The Vanek line managed to get to these two a lot and they ended up being on-ice for all three goals against. They also played fewer minutes than they are normally accustomed to but I'm guessing this is due to the high number of powerplays. Still, this is far from the worst outing by a Carolina shutdown defense pair in recent seasons.
Sabres Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Marcus Foligno +3
Worst EV Forward: Nathan Gerbe -3
Best EV Defenseman: Christian Ehrhoff +4
Worst EV Defensemen: Andrej Sekera & Robyn Regehr
The Sabres top-line has done virtually everything for them in these first few games. They have contributed on literally every single goal Buffalo has scored this year and account for just about all of their offense. This trend continued last night as they were on-ice for all three Buffalo goals but they were also on-ice for five of the six Carolina goals, as well. Pominville, Vanek and Hodgson have the potential to be an offensive juggernaut but how bad they are when it comes to playing in their own end is a problem for the Sabres. Scoring depth is also an issue for them but the Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line came close to lighting the lamp a few times and could pitch in very soon.
My thought after watching the game was that Jordan Staal lost the even strength battle against the Hodgson line but he actually outchanced them by two. This is probably because of how bad that line was defensively, though since they gave up a ton in their own zone. In addition to that, Kirk Muller was able to get a few good matchups for his top-line as Eric Staal's unit did some major damage against Buffalo's second and third lines. They also did quite a number on the Sekera/Regher defense pairing. However, while Staal was able to win his matchup against Ennis' line, Jokinen along with Gleason/Faulk had a lot of trouble against that unit. Something to be on the lookout for in tonight's game because Muller won't have the last change.
|2||CAR||18:58||Skinner - GOAL||11||22||53||6||27||30||19||29||26||24||57||1||5v5|
|2||CAR||15:54||Faulk - GOAL||11||19||25||27||30||9||19||29||26||10||1||4v5|
|2||BUF||11:11||Hodgson - GOAL||11||22||53||6||27||30||19||29||26||3||52||1||5v5|
|2||BUF||9:21||Pominville - GOAL||11||22||53||6||27||30||19||29||26||10||52||1||5v5|
|2||CAR||6:04||Skinner - GOAL||11||22||53||6||27||30||19||29||26||10||52||1||5v5|
|2||CAR||5:55||E. Staal - GOAL||12||19||28||4||25||30||63||21||82||24||44||1||5v5|
|3||BUF||13:54||Pominville - GOAL||11||53||39||6||27||30||19||29||26||24||57||1||5v5|
|3||CAR||10:34||E. Staal - GOAL||12||53||28||4||26||30||19||29||32||3||57||1||5v5|