I said after the Hurricanes win against the Los Angeles Kings that the Hurricanes 3 points were enough to make the 3-game road trip decent. Saturday’s finale in San Jose represented a chance to pick up an extra point or 2 which was needed to pull closer to a pack in the middle of the Metropolitan Division that is playing incredibly well right now.
But it was not meant to be. The Hurricanes put forward a decent effort in many regards but were down right out of the gate and then chasing the game a bit after that.
Recap of Hurricanes 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks
The scoring started only a dozen seconds into the game when San Jose won the opening face-off and Ron Hainsey pushed up in the neutral zone but had the puck get behind him. Justin Faulk was a tiny bit slow and just missed getting to and breaking up a pass that then found the back of the net. The Hurricanes showed resiliency that would come into play throughout the game. Lee Stempniak finished a pretty passing play on the power play that saw Slavin slip the puck to Teravainen who froze the goalie and fed the puck across to Stempniak who finished into the other side of the net. But San Jose struck again quickly when a shot deflected off of Brett Pesce and into the net behind Ward. At that point, the Sharks had 2 goals on only 2 shots on net.
The second period featured the Hurricanes league-leading penalty kill continuing its stellar play. In killing a penalty, Victor Rask sprung Joakim Nordstrom who made a great individual effort to get to the puck and then skate through Brent Burns and his stick to get to the front of the net and finish on the breakaway. But again the Sharks answered quickly, only 1:16 later, when Jaccob Slavin lost track of Logan Couture in front of the net who deflected a Brent Burns’ point shot past Ward and into the net. When Kevin Labanc banged in a juicy rebound less than 2 minutes later, it seemed like things were getting away.
But the Hurricanes responded in the third period and made a game of it. Sebastian Aho got into it with Brendan Dillon and the wily veteran 19-year old goaded Dillon into a dumb penalty as the 2 headed off the ice at the end of a shift. When Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner worked together to win a puck on the boards and center the puck, Derek Ryan finished to continue his scoring ways and pull the Hurricanes within a goal at 4-3. The Hurricanes pushed after that and had a decent amount of offensive zone time with an extra attacker on in the last 90 seconds but could not net the equalizer.
As I said on Twitter, the loss was a disappointing one, but not of the same variety as Wednesday. The Canes’ 1 downfall was that they were uncharacteristically loose in the neutral zone. San Jose capitalized opportunistically on a night when they created offense only sporadically. The Hurricanes had another strong night generating scoring chances and could easily have had another goal or 2. And they won the possession game as measured by both shots and shots on goal.
‘What’ I’m watching’ check in
You can find the full game preview HERE.
1) Get the game off the walls where skating wins
On the one hand, I think the Hurricanes did muster another reasonably strong transition and skating game. The Hurricanes attacked with speed and skill and easily could have had another goal or 2. But at the same time, they also allowed San Jose to skate too easily through the middle of the rink with speed and attack.
2) Hainsey/Faulk versus the San Jose fire power
The game started with Hainsey/Faulk getting beat by Thornton and company for a goal only 12 seconds into the game which was an ominous sign. But the duo did mostly settle down and was not on the ice for another goal against. That goal coupled with the fact that Justin Faulk was not on the ice for a goal for made 9 consecutive road games that Faulk has been a minus player.
Ward was not completely at fault, but his 4 goals allowed on only 20 shots was not great either. Sandwiched around a solid effort in Thursday’s win in Los Angeles, Ward was touched up for 9 goals in the other 2 games. The trend is worth watching.
4) Continued trend of scoring from across the roster
Derek Ryan netted another goal on the power play. Lee Stempniak broke a goal scoring drought of 20+ games. And Joakim Nordstrom netted a goal on a great individual effort. The 3 on the road is solid, and the recent trend of finding a variety and volume of depth scoring is encouraging.
Jeff Skinner: He was dynamic offensively at a level pretty comparable to a couple of his big scoring games, but just could not find the net despite putting 11 shots on net. Here is hoping that his intensity level and general play from Saturday comes back to Raleigh, because if it does the goals will come.
The officiating: I generally steer clear of pinning games on the officials especially when it was 1 call no matter how bad. But Saturday’s game featured multiple questionable call. First, the refs missed a double high-sticking minor when Matt Tennyson was whacked on the bridge of his nose drawing blood. Then they decided to couple an obstruction penalty with a questionable diving/unsportsmanlike conduct call on Skinner. And the officials also let a few other things go. –‘Iffy’ at best.
Aho/Teravainen/Stempniak: Their goal on Saturday came on the power play, but the trio picked up right where it left off from Thursday’s strong effort and again generated offense. Aho had a post and the line in general was buzzing around the offensive zone.
Slavin/Pesce: They were not horrible in the egregious error kind of way, but the game was a small step down relative to their nearly flawless level of play of late. Slavin lost track of Couture on his deflection goal, and in more of the bad luck category, Pesce had a puck glance off his skate and past Ward on its way into the net.
Thus far the Hurricanes lead the NHL in road games played with 18 compared to only 10 at home. The team gets a much-deserved chance to push up the standings at home. Starting on Tuesday night against Vancouver, the Hurricanes will put its 6-game winning streak on the line for 4 straight games at home in Raleigh at PNC Arena.