A theme throughout my game preview for Sunday’s match up between the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings referenced the teams’ first match and wondered whether the Hurricanes could at the same time capitalize on the openings that Detroit offers but not get conned into an open ice game of shinny.
The first period had every bit of the shinny factor going on. The Hurricanes gave up a bunch in the first period such that James Reimer had to be sharp early to keep the game scoreless. He had multiple saves from in close and a breakaway save after Dougie Hamilton was a bit too forward the offensive blue line and let the puck behind him. Van Riemsdyk lost a puck battle at the defensive blue line that led to another partial breakaway. Along the way the Hurricanes also had their fair share of high-quality chances in the track meet. Andrei Svechnikov had two chances on 2-on-1s and the Hurricanes had at least two more odd man rushes. But the goalies stood tall making a first period that was anything but look uneventful with a 0-0 score to end the period despite 23 shots on goal with many of high quality.
The second period saw the Hurricanes finally figure out the formula for how to take advantage of what Detroit offered but not have to trade chances to get it. After allowing 11 shots in the first period, the Hurricanes tightened up and allowed only five shots on goal. The only really good chance for Detroit in the period was Hamilton’s second miscue of the game at the offensive blue line on the power play for a break the other way. As the period wore on the Hurricanes continued to get chances while giving up very few and ultimately broke through when Sebastian Aho went basketball mode and seemingly passed the puck off the end boards to himself for a goal. When the dust settled on the second period, the Hurricanes had the upper hand in terms of play and also 1-0 on the scoreboard.
The third period was a strong one for the Hurricanes. Needing to push to get back to even, the Red Wings generated very little in terms of shots and scoring chances mustering only three shots on goal. Despite not adding to the 1-0 lead, the Hurricanes also kept pushing offensively and easily could have notched another goal or two before Teuvo Teravainen’s empty-netter sealed the deal late. In total, the third period was definitely something to reference for future games defending a lead in the third period.
Player and other notes
1) James Reimer
After a few losses, James Reimer posted his second consecutive win. He was strong in a first period that could easily have dug a hole in the first period. And though not tested much during the remainder of the game, he had to be perfect and was.
2) Andrei Svechnikov
Despite only collecting one assist on the score sheet, Svechnikov was dangerous all game. He had decent shots on two first period 2-on-1 rushes and had a couple more good chances in the second period.
3) Not quite but almost
An ongoing theme in my game recaps and other writing has been the Canes’ fits and starts trying to put together sounder, more complete efforts and cleaning up some of the loose play in transition and defending in the defensive zone. While the first period was pretty wide open and loose defensively, but the Hurricanes were much better in the second and third periods. So I would not say that the Canes are there yet, but the team seems to be in the neighborhood of putting things together.
4) Balanced ice time
Another thing that stood out was how evenly Brind’Amour was willing to spread the ice time when special teams was limited. Aho led the forwards with 18:02 of ice time, and every forward was north of 10 minutes. On defense, van Riemsdyk and Gardiner were both above 15 minutes of ice time in a game that was not over until very late.
5) The standings
The win pushes the Canes to 15-7-2 which has added two wins to the 5-0 start. After a 1-4 start to favorable stretch of 13 games, the team has climbed to 7-5 with a chance to finish 8-5 which is good even if maybe not great. The deeper the Hurricanes go climbing without significant falls, the more they steer clear of adversity that can sap energy over the course of a long 82-game season. The sits neatly in third place in the Metropolitan Division and possesses a three point gap (adjusted for games played) above the playoff cut line.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a quick three games in four days book ending Thanksgiving Day with the team at the Rangers on Wednesday, at home against the Predators on Friday and then on the road again Saturday against the Lightning.