In my game preview, I tagged this as an important win after losing Tuesday and with another tough game against the Rangers up next. For the second consecutive game, the Hurricanes seemed to play well enough to win through some point in the game but failed to score enough to create any breathing room and ultimately found a way to lose in the end. The Hurricanes did make it to the shootout and at least collected another overtime loss point. Like 2 of the Hurricanes road losses last week, the Hurricanes played well enough to collect a win but not were not able to aggressively seize it down the stretch.
Recap of Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins
As has been the case consistently of late, the Hurricanes started on time. The good guys were not dominant but they were better early. The first period and the game in general were choppy. There seemed to be a reasonable volume of medium grade chances but mostly of the variety where the goalie had a decent look at the shot and therefore a chance to make a save. The game also featured stretches of pucks being knocked off sticks, passes being broken up trying to get through the neutral and generally just a grinding style of hockey game. Cam Ward made a few good saves when asked in the first period, and former Hurricane Anton Khudobin saw a tougher workload and matched Ward leading to a scoreless first period.
The second period was more of the same with a bunch of choppy back and forth play when a strange transition saw Jeff Skinner with the puck on his stick headed to the net with the closest 3 players behind him also Hurricanes. Skinner was unable to convert but a couple bounces later the puck found Noah Hanifin stepping into the slot from where he blasted a shot past Khudobin to put the Hurricanes up 1-0 with a power play goal. The second period ended with the Hurricanes staked to a 1-0 lead.
After Tuesday’s loss featured a costly turnover on the first shift of the third period, the Hurricanes decent start to the third period was encouraging. Defending the lead, the Hurricanes made simple plays but did not completely sit back. That lasted most of the way through the period and saw the Hurricanes get a few decent chances in the middle of the period before the game pushed to the last few minutes with the Hurricanes still protecting a 1-0 lead. Holding on for dear life in the last minute, things turned south with 30 seconds remaining when David Backes got position at the top of the crease against Teuvo Teravainen and the puck went in off of Teravainen’s leg.
Overtime saw the Hurricanes get a couple decent chances from Justin Faulk before a penalty on Viktor Stalberg put the challenge of defending a full 2 minutes of 4-on-3 in front of the Hurricanes penalty kill. The penalty kill battled and survived under duress leaving 1 minute of 3-on-3 to finish the period. The ovetime culminated with Jeff Skinner unable to finish on a breakaway which led to a shootout. Ward was beaten by Ryan Spooner, but Jaccob Slavin tied the shootout with his patented backhand move. After Marchand and Hanifin missed Pastrnak beat Ward putting the pressure on Jeff Skinner as the Hurricanes third shooter. For the third time in the game, Skinner skated in alone on Khudobin but failed to beat him.
When I net it out, the Hurricanes played an incredibly sound game defensively and received the same from Ward. Defensively, the team easily played well enough to win. But the team’s inability to generate much offensively or to finish when it did reared its head again. A 1-0 win was within reach, but a little more scoring and breathing room would help.
‘What I’m watching’ check in
1) Greater offensive attack
As has been the case too frequently of late, the Hurricanes missed on this account again. The team failed both in terms of generating enough high quality chances and also finishing what it did create.
2) The goaltending
Cam Ward came really close to being perfect which is what it would have taken to garner a win before the shootout. The defense was pretty sound and gave him a reasonable volume and quantity of chances and to his credit he was flawless. The only goal was a deflection from the crease.
3) Return to sound play by Hainsey/Faulk
The defense in general was sound on Thursday, and after a tough outing in Tuesday’s loss, Hainsey/Faulk much better.
4) The third line
Similar to #1, this continues to be a miss. Derek Ryan’s line continues to be competent defensively but just is not providing any even strength scoring.
Desperately seeking a killer instinct: In 2 road games this week, the Hurricanes seemed to have 4 points in hand only to finish the 2 games with a single point. The specifics vary from game to game, but the theme of being unable to close out games is a recurring one.
Noah Hanifin: One feel good story from the game was Noah Hanifin again netting a goal in his home town in front of a huge collection of family and friends.
Both sides of the coin: Jay McClement and Joakim Nordstrom each logged 18:12 of ice time and Viktor Stalberg added 16:24. On the one hand, the former fourth line is playing well, holding its own defensively and even chipping in goals. They have earned their increased role and ice time especially in light of Jordan Staal’s absence and also Elias Lindholm leaving Thursday’s game early. But at the same time, for a team that is struggling to score enough to lean so heavily on even a hot fourth line is a recipe for trying to squeak out 2 goals and win 2-1.
Jeff Skinner: As great as he has been overall this season, he has had a tough couple games on the road. Tuesday he struggled to generate much offensively against tough defensive match ups and was front in center being a little late on coverage on a Rangers’ goal. Thursday he found the puck on his stick with no defense in front of him 3 times (counting the shootout) and went 0 for 3.
The Jordan Staal effect: The most obvious ‘missing Jordan Staal’ moment was when David Backes walked to the front of the net next to Teuvo Teravainen and just parked where he wanted to helping lead to the last goal off of Teravainen’s skate. But Staal could also have been beneficial tilting the ice into the offensive zone a bit more and maybe helping create a few more chances.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a return trip to Madison Square Garden for a matinee rematch on Saturday at 1pm against the New York Rangers.