I was away from Canes hockey over the weekend, so my viewpoint is a bit skewed by the fact that Friday’s 4-3 win over the Sharks is still waiting on the DVR.
On opening night, the Hurricanes generally out-shot, outplayed and out-everythinged the New York Islanders. But it took a late Jordan Staal goal to push the game to overtime. A penalty just before the end of regulation set the Islanders up for an extended power play in overtime and they capitalized to win 2-1. In the first taste of the 2018-19 season and on the heels of a disappointing 2017-18 campaign, the loss felt like more of the same. The ‘but we out-shot them by a wide margin’ mantra again meant little in the win column.
Fast forward to Sunday night, and the game was similar at the top level. The Hurricanes again poured it on in terms of winning the shot total but again could not find the back of the net. But with the Hurricanes now off to a 6-4-1 start that puts them in the top half of the standings even after the loss, the loss does not have the same sting nor does it raise the same ‘more of the same’ paranoia.
That said, the Hurricanes did miss a chance to collect two points on home against against a team that played and traveled the night before.
Carolina Hurricanes short game recap
The Hurricanes actually started a bit sluggish and were sloppy early on, but even that did not stop them from building their usual shot total advantage right out of the gate. The Hurricanes finished the first period with a 12 to 5 advantage in terms of shots on goal. But unfortunately, the Canes were again unable to solve Thomas Greiss. And also following a theme that has prevailed early in the season, the penalty kill was touched up early for a goal when Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin both sagged a bit low and Pesce was unable to get into a passing lane. The result was an Anders Lee power play goal that held up as the only tally in the first period.
The Hurricanes continued to apply pressure in the second period and were even a bit crisper in their play. The result was a 19 to 9 shot advantage, but more importantly the Hurricanes scored when a Sebastian Aho pass found the goalie and then Teuvo Teravainen’s stick. Teravainen quickly put the puck behind the goalie to tie the game at one goal apiece. But the Isles struck back when the Hurricanes were caught deep in their forecheck in transition and then were just a step slow sorting things out in transition.
The Hurricanes did push back in the third but never really found much for sustained pressure against an Isles team that is probably better than advertised with Barry Trotz now manning the controls.
The end result was a tough 2-1 loss in another game where arguably the Hurricanes deserved better. And also true to form, the special teams differential was the difference in the game.
Player and other notes
1) Sebastian Aho
With his assist in the second period, Aho passed legend Ron Francis to have scored in the most games (12) to start a season. All indications so far are that Aho is in the early stages of a season that puts him up among the league best. His ice time crept up to 22:13 as Brind’Amour shortened the bench and tried to pull even late. Thus far, Aho looks strong but the increased minutes are something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
2) Teuvo Teravainen
My Daily Cup of Joe late last week seemed to spark a bunch of players who are behind schedule scoring-wise. Brock McGinn tallied twice on Friday. Dougie Hamilton also scored. And Teuvo Teravainen scored in both. Teravainen’s history prior to being paired with Aho in 2017-18 was that of a streaky scorer. Here is hoping that his break out his weekend triggers a higher level of scoring short-ter in the form of a burst of goals. Longer-term, hopefully it boosts his confidence and starts his 2018-19 season.
3) Petr Mrazek
He was outplayed by the netminder at the other end of the rink, so that negative is a tough starting point from which to win a hockey game. But that said, Mrazek made some good saves in the second half of the game that gave his team a chance until the end. If his team gets him two goals, he at least gets to overtime.
4) Nicolas Roy
I will be curious to also see how he looked in Friday’s game, but Roy was mostly invisible in Sunday’s game.
Next up for the Hurricanes is the last game of the three-game home stand against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.