Friday’s home rematch against the Vancouver Canucks who beat the Canes last week offered a chance to run the win streak to 5 and stay at or above the playoff cut line. The start featured a couple of the breakdowns and neutral zone issues that plagued the Canes in the first loss to Vancouver, but the good guys eventually settled in and got better as the game wore on. The team survived a long stretch on the edge of a 2-goal deficit and also battled through a great night by the opposing goalie to pull even at 2 late. That set the stage for more overtime heroics but it just was not to be tonight and the Canes had to settle for a single point in a 3-2 overtime loss.
The game very much felt like the games from early in the season when the Cane were much better but via some combination of a hot goalie and inability to finish just could not score enough. The shot totals favored the Canes nearly 2 to 1 at 72 to 39, but it took a late deflection off a Vancouver skate by John-Michael Liles to get to 2 goals and overtime.
As much as 2 points was wanted and deserved, I think you have to be pleased with the level of play, take the point and trust that if the Canes continue on Friday’s path that they will get what they deserve hopefully as early as Sunday in another match up with Pittsburgh.
A few player and other notes:
1) Big play by Victor Rask
Since sitting out a couple games with an undisclosed injury, Victor Rask has been playing lighter minutes and also been fairly quiet. On Friday, he played a modest 14:27 but made that 1 huge play when the team really needed. With about 2 minutes left and the game headed toward a pointless finish, Rask won a puck battle behind the net, moved it cleanly to Andrej Nestrasil and then raced to the front of the net to create havoc and a goal off of the skate of the Vancouver defenseman who went with him to the front of the net.
2) Michal Jordan
After a long time out of the lineup, he stepped into the lineup and mostly stayed out of trouble. He was on the ice for the first goal against, but he mostly did his job taking away the pass on the 2-on-1 caused by Jaccob Slavin’s turnover in the neutral zone. Otherwise, he did a decent job of getting on and off the ice without incident which is tough to do without any game action of late.
3) Cam Ward
You cannot pin this game solely on Ward, but I think it is fair to say that the other goalie was better and that Ward could have had a better game. He was beaten short side on all 3 Vancouver goals and gave up 3 on only 22 shots against.
4) Good for John-Michael Liles
It was not the prettiest of goals (off an opponent’s skate and in) with 2:10 left in regulation, but it was a big 1. Liles has been steady if not spectacular thus far this season. It was nice to see him rewarded with a big goal.
5) The good version of bad
Despite playing well of late, the Hurricanes were eventually going to lose again. Friday’s version that saw the team generally play well and also pick up a point in the standings is the good version of a rough night. If the team can keep stringing together batches of wins and offsetting them with fewer losses many of the overtime variety it will continue its climb.
Next up is a big game in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. The 3pm start makes for a nice Carolina doubleheader with the Panthers at 1pm followed by the Canes off the DVR at about 4:30pm.