After a productive 2-0-1 stretch, the Canes fell short in Ottawa on Thursday night. The game had a feel similar to the Penguins game last Friday in that the team competed hard, mostly played a decent game but did not have their best stuff. Last Friday, the result was a consolation prize shootout loss point. On Thursday in Ottawa, the Canes received nothing losing by 1 goal before a last second empty-netter stretched the final to 4-2.
The Canes continued their intermittent struggle to find enough 5-on-5 production despite pretty good 5-on-5 possession stats. Jordan Staal got on the board late in the first period to get out of the first period at 1-1. And suddenly the best and sometimes only secondary scoring provided by Riley Nash pulled the game even at 2-2 (again on the power play) late in the second period. A couple costly mistakes could arguably be called the difference. Eddie Lack was beaten from a bad angle on a goal that he would surely want back. The goal came from almost exactly the same place on the ice where Ward was victimized last Friday in the Penguins shootout loss. And the game-winning goal saw the Canes hemmed in their own end and Phil Di Giuseppe with the puck on his stick twice but unable to clear or find a team mate’s stick to advance the puck forward. When you net it out, the Canes were competitive but not at their best, and a combination of a couple mistakes and just not enough finish 5-on-5 doomed any chance of escaping with a valuable point or 2.
The positive is that facing a similar situation last week with the second half of a back-to-back looming, the Canes rebounded strongly last weekend to beat the Islanders in convincing fashion. They will get a chance to bounce back quickly against San Jose at home tomorrow.
A few player and other notes:
1) Jordan Staal
He continued his dominant play. He scored on a tip and was the screen on the Canes other goal. I think he actually played some of his best shifts in the third period trying to will the Canes back to 3-3, but it just did not happen.
2) Need more finish
The story was much the same with Eric Staal’s line. Aside from the Di Giuseppe turnover noted above and the unlucky goal off of Eric Staal’s stick, the trio of Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg and Phil Di Giuseppe generally played a decent game. They had a reasonable number of good chances including Di Giuseppe on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box and a couple in-close chances for Eric Staal. The 3 of them had 17 shots (9 on goal), but as has been the case often of late, they just could not find the back of the net. The same can also be said for Rask’s line. Lindholm had a pretty pass to Nash on his power play goal, but that line also has struggled to score at times when the team really needs it. The theory with Corsi is that if you keep getting more shots eventually you will get more goals. Right now, the Canes need more ‘eventually’ from Eric Staal’s line to provide more scoring options and balance.
3) Eddie Lack
He rebounded after the rough second goal, but on a night when the team in front of him is trying to grind 1 out, that 1 goal can be the difference.
4) Key is keeping it short
Even with the Canes playing well and rising in the standings, there are still going to be setbacks. The key is to bounce back quickly and keep losing from becoming streaks. In looking at the games since the all-star break in sets of 3, this was the first of the third set. With a roughly 2-out-3 pace needed, it is still possible for this weekend. The key is to bounce back strong just like last weekend and quickly keep a single loss from becoming a streak.
Next up is a quick turnaround and an even bigger game at home in Raleigh against San Jose tomorrow.