Brief recap of the Hurricanes 4-3 overtime loss to the Panthers
After a horrid start in Monday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Hurricanes started much better on Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers. The Hurricanes were not dominant early, but they were sounder and probably had a slight advantage in early play. Just when it looked like a fairly even first period was going to end even at 0-0, the Hurricanes continued recent positive trends of scoring late in periods and also scoring in rapid succession. First, Jordan Staal continued to milk everything possible from whatever deal he cut with the devil when he received a nifty Warren Foegele pass and sniped a perfect shot bar in on the far side. Only 22 seconds later, Sebastian Aho deftly tipped a Brett Pesce point shot finding the net to suddenly put the Hurricanes up 2-0. That is how the first period ended.
The second period was pretty even and also pretty eventful with good pace and chances in both directions. In general, both goalies stood tall, but Florida did pull to within a goal at 2-1 when Jonathan Huberdeau sniped a shot off the rush beating Alex Nedeljkovic cleanly to the far side. Despite decent number of chances, neither team would score after that and the period would end with the Hurricanes clinging to a 2-1 lead.
The third period saw a couple Hurricanes errors cost them dearly. First, Jonathan Huberdeau made an absolutely phenomenal whirling pass that went by Jake Bean and beat a slightly late Brady Skjei to a rushing Panther at the far post for a tap in goal. Then Nedeljkovic let a weak backhand from a horrible angle find passage through his pads and into the net. Just like that, two errors erased a one-goal lead and turned it into a one-goal deficit. But after being close to the score sheet all night, Vincent Trocheck finally broke through against his former team when he directed an Andrei Svechnikov power play pass up into the net without even receiving it. That 3-3 score is how regulation would end.
Toting a perfect record in overtime and shootouts into the game, the Hurricanes got away from what worked a bit. The general recipe for success had been placing tremendous value on puck possession in overtime being careful with passes and accepting only grade A shooting chances. On Wednesday, the Hurricanes got into a bit more of a track meet settling for a few lower quality shots and giving the puck away a few times. The game ended when Jake Gardiner had a pass intercepted by Alexander Barkov who fed a streaking Jonathan Huberdeau who worked over Nedeljkovic for the overtime game-winner.
Player and other notes
1) Level of play
In most ways, I actually thought Wednesday’s game was better in terms of soundness of play. The Hurricanes did make a couple costly mistakes in the third period but in terms of both extended stretches and sheer volume of errors, the game was much better. Missing was the ability to just outrun/outgun any mistakes.
2) Jordan Staal continues
He only had one point which is actually a step down, but his goal was a pretty one labeling a nearly unstoppable shot from in close for the far side post and in.
3) Alex Nedeljkovic
In each of his three starts, Nedeljkovic has seemingly been close to a strong performance and let it get away late. On Wednesday, Florida’s third goal that leaked through his pads when the Canes were trying to claim a win late was a bad one. He also continues to struggle a bit with breakaways at NHL speed. In overtime, Huberdeau seemed to get him twisted and leaning before finishing into an open chunk of net. Nedeljkovic does have a perfect 3-for-3 in a shootout win to his credit, so I guess maybe that is a mixed bag. Nedeljkovic was not bad overall on Wednesday, but he could have been better and that better would likely have resulted in a win.
4) Vincent Trocheck
Against his former team, Vincent Trocheck was arguably the Hurricanes best forward. He had jump all night and was involved in more than his fair share of decent scoring chances and near misses in addition to his skilled deflection finish.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a more standard 2020-21 two-game set against the Blackhawks starting on Friday and continuing on Saturday.