Even though the Hurricanes won last night's game in overtime, their performance reminded me a lot of how they played last year. Not only were they heavily outshot, but the Senators had control for most of the game and the Hurricanes were forced to play in their own end more often than they would have liked. They were able to stay in the game and force overtime thanks to great goaltending along with some solid special teams play. Like I said last night, it's always nice to edge out a win when you don't play your best hockey but let's hope the Hurricanes don't make a habit out of it. This is the first time the Hurricanes have resembled last year's squad and they were facing an Ottawa team that has been a powerhouse at even strength, so I will hold off on the worrying for now and just enjoy the win.
It's also worth noting that while the Hurricanes gave up a lot of shots, they weren't destroyed when it came to how many chances they were producing compared to Ottawa.
Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators 2/8/2013
Carolina was doing a fine job of limiting Ottawa's opportunities at even strength for 2/3 of the game. The part where they really struggled to do that was the second period, where Ottawa just took it to the Hurricanes and barraged Cam Ward with ten scoring chances. Amazingly enough, the Hurricanes were able to tie the game in that frame on the back of a goal by Chad LaRose and then gave the lead back to Ottawa on a shot that wasn't even registered as a scoring chance. The Hurricanes actually had a slight edge over Ottawa in even strength chances for the rest of the game but they really got dominated in the second period.
The powerplay was the one area where the Canes were very efficient, generating five scoring chances in a little over three minutes of five-on-four time. It was nice to see their hard work there pay off in the third period when Semin scored on the powerplay to tie the game.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jordan Staal +3
Worst EV Forward: Alexander Semin -9
Best EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain -7
This was, by far, the first line's worst performance of the season and I feel pretty confident in saying that they will never play this poorly for the rest of the year. Yes, they are going to have their off-nights but Semin being on-ice for no chances at even strength while giving up nine (!) in his own end is pretty ridiculous for any player. He was able to make up for it by being a force on the powerplay but he just could not get anything going at even strength last night. Same goes for Tlusty and Eric Staal, save for one shift.
While the top line struggled to create offense, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner were able to pick up the slack, as they were responsible for over 70% of Carolina's even strength scoring chances. These two ended up giving a lot back in return but their offensive production more than made up for it, especially with the first line putting up a goose egg. I actually thought Jordan Staal was the team's best player not named Cam Ward last night and Skinner played a very strong game. I wasn't sure about having Staal and Skinner on the same line but they are starting to develop some chemistry and look like a somewhat dangerous second line. The Hurricanes also finally got something out of their third line for the first time all season and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Jay Harrison didn't have as strong of a game as I initially thought, but he did end up producing more scoring chances than he gave up. Faulk actually had the best night among the defense corps with a +2 differential at even strength and giving up only one chance against on the penalty kill. He also had one of the better nights defensively along with Tim Gleason, although that's not saying much when you look at the number of chances Pitkanen and McBain gave up. They ended up being on-ice for both Ottawa goals and while there wasn't much they could do about the Alfredsson tally, neither of them looked good on Karlsson's.
Senators Individual Scoring Chances
|24||Stephane Da Costa||8:33||3||0||1:32||1||0||0:00||0||0|
Best EV Forwards: Milan Michalek, Zack Smith & Jim O'Brien +4
Worst EV Forward: Daniel Alfredsson -5
Best EV Defensemen: Erik Karlsson & Marc Methot +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Andre Benoit -2
The play of Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot was a large reason why the Eric Staal line could not do much of anything at even strength. These two managed to shut them down by keeping the puck in Carolina's end and completely bottle them up in the neutral zone. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, the Senators talent on defense decreases drastically after their first pairing and Carolina was able to expose it a couple of times. Gonchar & Lundin ended up winning their battles but they gave up their share of chances and Muller was able to exploit Ottawa's third-pairing a couple times, namely on their first and third goals.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
In addition to getting the second line out against Benoit & Phillips, the Canes were also able to do some damage against Ottawa's first line which was ineffective for the majority of the night. That was the Jordan Staal line's primary assignment and they were able to win that matchup without much of a problem. It helped make up for the first line getting run over by the rest of Ottawa's top-nine and first defense pairing.
Also worth pointing out here is that the Canes had a lot of trouble containing the Senators fourth line. Even some of their better players last night gave up a good amount of chances to Da Costa, O'Brien and Condra. That unit has been doing very well territorially this year, so maybe this isn't an anomoly but it's still a matchup Carolina's top players should be able to win.
Scoring Chance Report
|1||OTT||1:58||Karlsson - GOAL||12||19||28||4||25||30||15||33||9||55||65||41||5v5|
|2||CAR||7:02||LaRose - GOAL||11||59||21||24||44||30||15||33||9||4||61||41||5v5|
|3||CAR||7:34||Semin - GOAL||12||37||53||28||27||30||7||18||3||4||41||5v4|
|4||CAR||2:41||Harrison - GOAL||11||53||27||44||30||13||33||4||61||41||4v4|