On a night when Henrik Lundqvist made some great saves but also looked human at times, the New York Rangers still got the better of it in net and rode that to a win despite being outplayed by just about any other measure.
Cam Ward had a real tough night allowing 4 goals on only 22 shots with most being of the frustrating variety. He was beaten clean on the first shot of the game when screened on a shot from the point. He gave up another goal when he turned the puck over for rush when trying to clear the puck himself. The turnover was the bigger mistake, but he also seemed to lose track of where players were when he went out to challenge the puck coming toward him and left a huge hole behind him for the pass recipient to shoot into. He had another horrible goal that beat him nearly from the wall even with the end line when he was surprised and beaten short side.
When you put the goaltending aside, it was a positive game for the Hurricanes overall. The team had a 2-to-1 shot advantage and a 1.5 advantage in terms of shots on goal. But the game featured too many of the recent gotchas. The Canes lost the special teams battle 2 goals to 0 and gave up another immediately following the expiration of a power play. The other team’s goalie was better. And the other team just seemed to be better on capitalizing when given the chance despite having fewer chances.
From my game preview here, the Canes fared well on 2 of the 3 things I noted, but lost badly on the third, and it was the difference.
1-Cam Ward. As noted above, his play was the single biggest factor in the outcome.
2-The kids on D. Pesce had a rough first shift that ended with a penalty (questionable call) and then a quick goal against, but otherwise the trio of Hanifin, Slavin and Pesce looked pretty solid. Hanifin/Slavin continues to look comfortable playing together, and Pesce is quickly becoming more aggressive offensively. He had a nifty pass that went of Jordan Staal’s stick and wide late when he carried in from the point to create a passing angle, and he had another play where he carried into the offensive end and around the net before passing the puck. Jaccob Slavin notched his first NHL scoring point with an assist and is looking increasingly comfortable playing with the puck on his stick. Noah Hanifin played 19:34 and was plus 1 despite getting a minus on the odd angle shot that beat Ward.
3-The Jordan Staal line. The line had a hardworking ‘keep the puck and get to the front of the net’ goal and nearly another late on the aforementioned Pesce pass off Jordan Staal’s stick and just wide. The line had some good shifts offensively, generally stayed out of trouble defensively and got on the scoreboard which is exactly what the Canes need from this line (even minus the goal some nights).
A few player and other notes:
He had a good night overall, and the pass that sprung Chris Terry was both heady (knowing he was coming off the bench) and skilled (flipping the puck perfectly over the defenders and into Terry’s path to the net).
He just keeps making plays on a regular basis with tonight’s being a key goal beating Lundqvist to get the Canes within 2 goals and provide hope.
He seems to be gradually warming up and kept his streak of games with points chugging forward with an assist on the Rask goal. He led the forwards with 6 shots on goal, 11 shots total and ice time of 21:14.
These 2 especially (and also Nordstrom who is the third on the line) continue to be a handful physically with 2 big players playing a puck possession game once they get the puck.
I have been fairly hard on him recently to the point where I have questioned whether he is a long-timer in the NHL, but tonight he got 1 big chance to make a play offensively and capitalized to the tune of scoring a big goal against an elite NHL goalie. Credit where it is due for tonight.