Game recap for Hurricanes 2-1 overtime loss to the Senators
On Tuesday night in Ottawa, the Hurricanes game started with a bang. Jaccob Slavin stepped up, picked up a puck in the neutral zone, maneuvered around 2 Sens at the offensive blue line and finished with his pretty go-to backhand move that he uses in the shootout. At only 34 seconds into the game the Canes were off and running. The Hurricanes continued on that path and completely dominated the first period. But Craig Anderson was good, and the Hurricanes were unable to convert the tilted ice into a second goal. With the Hurricanes scrambling around a bit in their own end as has been a problem all season, Dion Phaneuf found the puck on his stick stepping in a bit from the point and beat Cam Ward glove high to knot the game at 1-1 at the 13:18 mark of the first period. The period ended with any and all of the advanced shots showing a massive advantage for the Hurricanes. Shots on goal were 16-5. Total shots taken were 23-4 and scoring chances were 12-0. But when Ward was beaten to see the period completed at 1-1, it had a bad vibe.
The first period also had a very odd old school pugilist hockey style element. Phil Di Giuseppe and Matt Puemper dropped the gloves right off a face-off with nothing that pre-empted it in a moment that harkened back to the late 1970s. Jordan Staal and Dion Phaneuf got tangled up and wrestled each other to the ice. And there were a couple other skirmishes. Nothing much came of it all as the game pushed into the second and third periods.
Sure enough, the Ottawa Senators seemed to wake up and find their footing to start the second period. Early in the second period, the combination of Ottawa building its shot total and Cam Ward fighting the puck and spitting out rebounds on almost everything did not bode well. But Ward continued to make first saves, and some combination of lucky bounces and the Hurricanes defense clearing pucks kept the Senators from finding a rebound goal. And with each save that he made, Ward got better and actually settled into a strong finish. In a sluggish and choppy game, the Hurricanes never found anything close to their first period burst as the game wore on. But the team was better at avoiding the level 10 breakdowns that had plagued them in other losses, and Ward was solid down the stretch. The regulation result was a 1-1 tie that saw the Hurricanes dominate the first period only net a 1-1 tie and then get outplayed by a fairly wide margin in both the second and third periods but net 0-0 ties.
For the third time in 3 tries, the Hurricanes failed to pick up the extra point in overtime. Kyle Turris shot through Jaccob Slavin from the top of the face-off circle and beat Cam Ward glove high to turn make the game an overtime loss for the Hurricanes.
‘What I’m watching’ check in
Cam Ward and the Hurricanes goaltending is living in the spotlight and quickly noted when it is a problem. I actually do not think it was in Tuesday’s loss. The Phaneuf goal was a savable one, and it did continue a trend of the Hurricanes netminders letting in first goals that give opponent’s life. But Ward battled through the early part of the second period, and played well heading into and through the third period. One goal against in regulation on a night when the other team was better in 2 of the 3 periods is a good effort in net that gave the team a chance to win.
The game also illustrates the importance of being objective and letting past performances cloud the view of the current one.
2) Leaders out in front
His line generated very little offensively, but I thought Jordan Staal had 1 of his best games so far this season in terms of carrying the puck assertively through the neutral zone and consistently flipping the switch from defense to offense. That single activity was the biggest foundation of the strong game that his line played last season, so it is a positive development. Neither had a ‘put the team on your back’ kind of effort, but I thought Jeff Skinner had a decent game and came close to single-handedly generating offense again, and I also thought Justin Faulk had a fairly solid game with only a couple near misses late. That makes 2 good efforts out of 3 for Faulk which suggests that his game might be rounding into form just like Staal’s.
3) Attention to detail and fewer big miscues
In an understated way, I think this was actually the key to staying in the game and winning a point in the standings. Even though the Hurricanes were being outplayed in the second 2 periods, they mostly avoided horrible turnovers and did a decent job of defending in their own end. The result was a relatively high volume of shots against but very few of the nasty breakaway, player alone in front of the net, odd man rushes and other A+ chances that the Hurricanes have gifted away too frequently in other games. I call it a silver lining that the Hurricanes were not great on Tuesday but still managed to stay in the game.
4) 4 deep on D
Jaccob Slavin continues to be 1 of the team’s best 2-3 players on a nightly basis. His early goal obviously proved to be critical, and he and partner Brett Pesce were again pretty solid. They were backed up by a similarly good even if not great night by Hainsey/Faulk. Faulk quietly logged a big 27:40 of ice time, and Hainsey was with him for much of it at 23:34. Off the top of my head, I would rate Tuesday’s game as Ron Hainsey’s best of the young season. He played a simple game and consistently made little plays and avoided big problems on the night.
Ryan Murphy: I thought he had the good variety of a quiet game in his return. He looked comfortable and confident playing with the puck on his stick and carrying it and steered clear of glaring ‘oopses.’ After a long layoff, his game was very encouraging and something that he can use as a positive entry point and foundation.
Ron Hainsey: As noted above, I think Tuesday was his best game of the season. Hainsey is an important glue guy in the Hurricanes top 4. He does not need to drive success. There are other players who are more dynamic and get that responsibility. But I think it is critical in the current lineup that Hainsey be simple and solid on a second pairing and provide a stay-home backstop.
Lack of depth scoring is highlighted: At the top level, the Hurricanes scoring thus far in 2016-17 has been a pleasant surprise with the team regularly posting 3 or even 4 goals. But at a second level of details, the story paints a picture of a great scoring line more so than a great scoring team. Skinner/Rask/Stempniak had 9 even strength goals entering the game. When you look at the forwards past the big line, scoring is pretty sparse. Jordan Staal has 3 goals, but none of his line mates have a single goal. The trio of Aho, Lindholm and Teravainen have only Teravainen’s 2 goals of which 1 is on the power play. So on a night like Tuesday when the power play either does not get ice time or does not click and the Rask line does not have a big night, there just is not a ton of depth scoring to make the engine go on a slow night. There was an element of opposing goalie Craig Anderson playing well in the first period, but past that the Hurricanes really did not create enough chances.
Good timing for a break: The Canes next have 3 off days before a back-to-back set on Saturday and Sunday. I think the timing is good for the team to reflect a little bit and also use a couple full practices to work on solidifying and tightening things up system-wise.
The Hurricanes next play on Saturday night in Nashville.