Carolina's 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators might be seen as another game that goaltender Dan Ellis "stole" for them because he recorded a shutout and the Hurricanes were outshot at even strength. While both of those points are true, the Hurricanes defense also deserves a lot of credit for Ellis' shutout as they did a fantastic job of not allowing many scoring opportunities against to the Senators. Carolina was outshot at even strength, yes but they had the upper-hand in scoring chances with a 17-13 advantage during five-on-five play and 23-16 overall. Don't get me wrong, Ellis was good when he needed to be and he came up big a few times in the third period, but this was a great defensive effort from the Hurricanes. The Canes offense also did their part in creating a healthy number of scoring chances, too but they had a tough time trying to solve Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson and could only get one past him.
That one goal ended up being enough to win the game, though and the Hurricanes did their part in protecting the lead so there won't be many people complaining about their performance last night. The only thing that needs to drastically improve is the powerplay, which we will discuss and more after the jump.
Ottawa Senators at Carolina Hurricanes 2/1/13
The Hurricanes played easily their best first period of the season last night and it was good to see them not walk away empty-handed after generating 11 scoring chances. Sure, it was a bit of a lucky deflection by Eric Staal but with the way Anderson is playing right now, you have to take goals any way you can get them. They eased off the gas pedal a little period but managed to contain Ottawa's offense well by allowing only two even strength chances against. Things were much more open in the third period and while they only outchanced Ottawa by one but their effort in the final frame was better than what we saw on Monday against Boston. Carolina looked more like a team that wanted to build on their one goal lead rather than sit back and play conservatively, which is a great sign moving forward.
Carolina had the upper-hand at even strength because of their first period and believe it or not, their special teams play is what helped them pull away from Ottawa in scoring chances. Most of this is because they completely shut down Ottawa's powerplay on four opportunities, one of which was a double-minor, and also created a couple short-handed chances to boot. The Hurricanes PK has been a bit Jekyll/Hyde this year as they seem to get torched on some nights while not allowing much on others. Hopefully we'll see more of the latter in future games.
Carolina Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jiri Tlusty, Jussi Jokinen +4
Worst EV Forward: Jordan Staal -4
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Joni Pitkanen -4
Patrick Dwyer provided a huge boost to the third line as that unit outchanced Ottawa every time they were on the ice together and Jussi Jokinen had what was his best game of the season. Remember, these three are likely being used against other team's depth lines and bottom defense pairings, so Dwyer's speed can pose a mismatch against slower opponents (see Phillips, Chris) and make this line more dangerous. Combine that with Bowman's hustle and Jokinen's play-making skills and I think that these three can be an effective trio. It was also nice to see another line able to create a lot of offense to take some pressure off the first line, who also had a great game.
The one forward unit who had an off-game was the second line of Jordan Staal, Zac Dalpe and Jeff Skinner, who had some trouble containing Kyle Turris' line. They also weren't much of a factor offensively as they did not create many scoring chances for Carolina. Skinner has had a lot of trouble defensively all season but it was surprising to see Jordan Staal and Zac Dalpe not make much of an impact. I get the feeling that we won't see too many games like this from J. Staal, though.
I bet Tim Gleason is glad to have Justin Faulk back, as his return also coincided with Gleason having a positive scoring chance differential for the first time in a couple games. This shouldn't surprise anyone, though as Faulk & Gleason seem to work really well together and they were terrific in their own end last night. These two were a big reason why most of Ottawa's shots came from the perimeter, as they weren't allowing any of their forwars to get to the area in front of Dan Ellis.
Jay Harrison and Joe Corvo also had strong nights and these two made a very effective third pairing. Corvo still makes some bad decisions with the puck but he did just about everything you want a third pairing guy to do last night. Same goes for Harrison, who looked a thousand times better than he did on Monday night. Meanwhile, Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen had tough nights defensively and the latter was on ice for almost 70% of Ottawa's even strength scoring chances. Woof.
Senators Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Daniel Alfredsson +4
Worst EV Forward: Zack Smith -4
Best EV Defenseman: Erik Karlsson +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Andre Benoit -5
Ottawa's top line and first defense pairing played well last night but everyone else struggled. I was actually surprised to see Karlsson on-ice for six scoring chances because I thought the Hurricanes contained him well but it appears he did made more of an impact than I thought. Same goes for their first line.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Michalek-Turris-Spezza managed to beat just about everything Carolina threw at them but the Hurricanes were able to make up that damage against every other Ottawa line. Eric Staal's unit pretty much destroyed the Smith line and took advantage of whenever they were out against Zibanejad's line, too. They also did a considerable amount of damage against Gonchar & Wiercioch, who seemed to be out there against Staal more often than Karlsson & Methot. Another big matchup the Hurricanes took advantage of was their third line against the Phillips-Benoit defense pairing. Carolina won that matchup decisively and it also helped that their own third-pairing of Harrison & Corvo did their job of winning all of their matchups like they are supposed to.
It may have been just a 1-0 win on the scoreboard but the Hurricanes outplayed the Senators last night and we hope they can do the same later tonight when they take on the Flyers.
Scoring Chance Report
|1||CAR||4:15||E. Staal - GOAL||12||19||28||4||25||31||14||15||25||3||65||41||5v5|