Recap of Hurricanes 2-1 shootout win versus the Buffalo Sabres
The fact that the Hurricanes won a shootout or any kind of overtime hockey on Saturday night is in itself newsworthy. The team lost in a shootout just the night before and was 2-7 in overtime and shootouts combined entering the game. But with shootout successes from Sebastian Aho and Lee Stempniak, the Hurricanes beat the Sabres 2-1 on Saturday night in Raleigh.
The win and the shootout success comprise most of what is worth recapping from the game. I actually thought the game had decent pace early on but was a bit sloppy. As the game wore on, the pace slowed, the sloppiness continued and the level of play looked like both teams played the night before (they did) and were unable to find any crispness and skating (which they could not).
The Hurricanes did get jump and attack in the first period from the fourth line of Nordstrom/McClement/Stalberg. The trio created multiple chances in the first period including a Joakim Nordstrom goal that Jay McClement helped create by separating a defenseman from the puck right between the face-off circles. Nordstrom also hit the post later in the first period, and so did Victor Rask during 1 of only 2 short offensive flurries.
Luckily, Buffalo seemed to be stuck in first gear as well, so the game trudged forward without much for speed and scoring chances deep into the game. The second period was completely forgettable. The teams emerged from the second period with a grand total of 25 shots on goal and very little for high quality scoring chances. And the Canes held to the 1-0 lead that they had at the end of the first period.
The third period looked similar to the first 2 early on, but as the period wore on Buffalo seemed to find a measure of desperation and started to mount an attack as the Canes mostly went into a shell and tried to do nothing more than ride out the last 20 minutes. As often happens with such an approach, it failed. Buffalo outshot the Hurricanes 10-3 for the period and were rewarded with an Evander Kane tip in goal late to push the game to overtime.
I generally liked the Hurricanes overtime effort playing a puck control game and twice managing to change all 3 players to get a fresh against tired match up. The best chances came late in overtime from Aho and Teravainen who were thwarted setting up another shootout. As noted above, the Hurricanes had the answer this time and pulled out a 2-1 win.
‘What I’m watching’ check points
If you missed it, you can find the game preview HERE.
1) A better second period
The Hurricanes were not particularly good in any period, but they were not particularly bad either. The ‘cling to a lead’ approach in the third period back fired, but the team did avoid the second period letdowns of the 2 prior games.
2) Derek Ryan with Skinner and Rask
The trio was held off the score sheet but came really close a couple times. Victor Rask fired a shot off the pipe on a nice Skinner centering pass in the first period, and Ron Hainsey missed an open net later in the game again on a Skinner centering pass. So despite not scoring, I would not call the night a nothing offensively for this group.
3) Continuation from Faulk
Though his scoring run was stopped, Faulk continued on a run of better play.
The grind of the NHL schedule: Canes fans in attendance witnessed the effect of the NHL pushing for more weekend games. Both teams were sluggish and slow after playing the night before and the quality of the product at PNC Arena on Saturday night was mediocre at best.
Whistle-less refs: The game featured a run of 5-6 minutes during which I thought both teams were guilty of 2-3 sure penalties with no calls. With the Canes special teams play of late that could have helped the Canes win without the drama at the end.
The fourth line: On a night where jump was hard to find, they had it especially early in the game. The lines were shuffled a bit later in the game, but the 1 goal that Nordstrom/McClement/Stalberg netted obviously proved to be a huge one.
Cam Ward: The night was light for both quality and quantity of shots faced, but the low-scoring game also left no margin for error. Ward did what was asked of him and did not have much chance on the lone goal that came on a deflection. And making shootout stops was a nice surprise too. Good for Cam helping the team get back in the win column.