The short version
The Hurricanes actually played significantly better than in Tuesday’s win. The Hurricanes won the game in terms of generating quality scoring chances offensively, and were also pretty good in terms of limiting Anaheim’s chances. John Gibson stole a win for Anaheim.
So despite the loss, the game was a decent one. If forced to find faults, it would be three things. First, though the power play was not horrible, scoring just one power play goal would likely have led to a win. Second, especially once it became clear that Gibson was on, the team could have been significantly better in terms of pushing for an ugly goal with a screen or deflection. Finally, the team just could not find the killer instinct when they were better such that Anaheim could hang around until they got their feet under them and could push.
After a Tuesday win that relied much too heavily on goaltending and an ugly loss prior to that, the Hurricanes came into Friday’s game against Anaheim on a bit of a down trend in terms of level of play. So despite winning on Tuesday, the Hurricanes entered the game looking for a bit of a rebound.
And rebound they did in the first period. The game was close checking out of the gate, but midway through the first period, the Hurricanes rode special teams play to momentum and a sizable shot advantage. First, a power play yielded two pretty good chances for Jordan Staal from between the circles. Shortly thereafter a penalty kill saw Warren Foegele thwarted late on a rush and an even better rebound chance by Jordan Martinook stopped by goalie John Gibson. Then, Jaccob Slavin sprung defense partner Dougie Hamilton for another breakaway that Gibson again stopped. At that point, it looked as if John Gibson was going to get the Ducks through the first period tied despite being outplayed. But after all of the grade A chances, the Hurricanes actually broke through on what looked like a fairly harmless shot. But traffic in front did the trick, Gibson seemed unable to track the puck and Svechnikov scored his sixth of the season with just over a minute left to stake the Canes to a much-deserved 1-0 lead at the end of the first period that featured a shot advantage of 21 to 6.
The second period started similarly to the first with a war of attrition and not much for scoring chances early on. The shot totals were two apiece by about the midway point of the second period. Anaheim did finally push midway through the second period, but the Hurricanes intermittently found chances too. By the midway point, the game had turned into a goalie battle. John Gibson was not going to be beaten if he saw it. And though challenged a bit less, McElhinney was also perfect at the other end.
The third period saw the Ducks push and finally score an odd goal that deflected off a helmet and was batted out of midair and into the net. As the game wore on, the Hurricanes were not horrible, but they did fade after the first period and seemed to lack a killer instinct. But fortunately one goal and another strong outing by McElhinney was enough to get to overtime and claim a point in the standings.
And that would be all the Hurricanes would get. Anaheim won the opening face-off and played a slow-moving, patient game that never gave the puck back to the Hurricanes. When Ryan Getzlaf received a stretch pass and was in alone, he made no mistake claiming the overtime win.
As noted above, in general I thought Saturday’s effort was generally a decent one. Toss in a power play marker or an ugly goal and the 2-1 win is better than the past two 2-1 wins in terms of quality of play.
The Hurricanes have claimed four of six points in both of the two previous weeks. They need only an overtime loss on Sunday to do the same this week.
Player and other notes
1) Jaccob Slavin
He had a phenomenal game offensively. He had at least five stretch passes that sent Canes players in alone (or close) for good scoring chances. None were converted, but it was still arguably Slavin’s best offensive game of the season.
2) Curtis McElhinney
My game preview hoped that McElhinney would be unaffected by the week’s changes and just keep doing what he has been doing. He did. He was beaten on a weird deflection off of a team mate’s helmet that was batted out of mid air, and then he was beaten on a breakaway in overtime by a great player. Chalk up another solid effort by McElhinney despite the loss.
3) The power play
I thought the power play was fine early. Jordan Staal had a couple really good chances on the first power play. The second one was also good at least in terms of decent puck possession and crispness. But the power play seemed to degrade as the game wore on. And in a tight game results matter. On this night, a single power play goal out the six attempts would have meant a regulation win and another point in the standings.
4) The fourth line
I had this game pegged as one where Brind’Amour might shorten the bench early. To their credit, Foegele/Bishop/Di Giuseppe played well and earned a decent amount of ice time. Di Giuseppe’s breakaway attempt was arguably Gibson’s best. Di Giuseppe actually fooled him and had him leaning the other way and got the backhand shot up. Gibson somewhat just was strong enough to lean back despite being fooled and glove it.
5) Needs more ugly
It was not coincidence that the Canes lone goal was an odd one that was sort of random luck from Gibson not tracking the puck through traffic. It was blatantly obvious pretty early on that Gibson was on top of his game. The Hurricanes needed to do more to try to find another ugly goal. Regardless of quality of the chance, Gibson stopped each and every shot he saw on Friday.
6) De Haan/Faulk
Friday’s game was not horrible, but it was not their best either. But what stood out to me is how well they are reading off of each other. Each had a mistake that had the potential to be a breakaway. In each case, the partner read things early and stepped in to defend behind the mistake. The duo continues to be the team’s best.
Next up for the Hurricanes is the first of three games on the west coast starting in Los Angeles on Sunday.