So here is a late night analogy for the difference between the Hurricanes and the opponent in match ups against top teams in the league. The Hurricanes attack and quite often attack more than the opponent, But the Hurricanes are like birds pecking and pecking and pecking hoping that eventually it does enough damage whereas the elite teams in the league tend to be more like cobras. Oftentimes, top teams do not muster a ton of chances, but the chances are more dangerous and usually in the end outdo a bunch of lesser attacks. I feel like if Tampa Bay or maybe even Calgary played like the Hurricanes did on Tuesday that they would have walked away with a 5-2 win. On a more positive note, Aho did have a big answer late to at least claim a point.
Late night analogies aside, the Hurricanes played incredibly well on Tuesday night in Calgary and easily could have earned a fate better than the 3-2 overtime loss that they suffered.
The Hurricanes stared on time and were the better team by a significant margin the first period. But one early mistake when Brock McGinn turned the puck over on the side wall in the defensive zone and no one could recover in time and the Flames struck quickly like a cobra to go up 1-0 and interrupt what had mostly been the Canes outplaying the Flames. On the play, former-Cane Derek Ryan lifted Mrazek’s stick, but the goal stood after a Brind’Amour challenge. To their credit the Hurricanes kept pushing instead of easing up as they have at times this season. And for once the hockey gods responded, when a Dougie Hamilton pass to the front of the net intended for Andrei Svechnikov found a defenseman’s stick and then the back of the net. When the first period ended, the Hurricanes were tied at 1-1 with a 15 to 8 advantage in terms of shots on goal.
The second period was similar but with worse results on the scoreboard. The Hurricanes again won the shot battle and had multiple pinball type chances where the Canes got the puck to the front of the net only to have it ricochet away from the twine. Nino Niederreiter had a post. The pinballs offered a couple more near misses. And yet the Hurricanes emerged from the period down 2-1 after a deflection off of Calvin de Haan caromed right to Mark Jankowski at the side of the net where he finished.
The third period was touch and go as the Hurricanes pushed at even strength but also had to fend off a couple Flames power plays. The penalty kill was good, and Mrazek mustered a couple spectacular saves when that was not enough. And just when it seemed like the Hurricanes were going to come away with nothing, Williams fed a pass through the slot to Teravainen who then found Aho in front to tie the game with less than a minute left. The Teravainen played looked so easy that it will be underappreciated. The pass from Williams was just coming down yet Teravainen somehow received and passed it in a single motion as if it was a simple tape to tape pass on the ice. The goal and push to overtime was a huge play to at least collect a point.
Then overtime was over almost as quickly as it started. Aho lost a face-off and then Hurricanes mostly failed to defend as a group. With two Flames and the puck steaming down the left side ahead of a trailing Teravainen, Aho inexplicably left them to cover a third Flame trailing behind. Teravainen never caught up. Slavin was caught in no man’s land and maybe also a tiny bit slow to react. And the result was fairly easy goal off the rush without much resistance defensively.
Despite the results, the game was a phenomenal hockey game, and as far as results looking only at this individual game, getting a point against the Flames on the road is a positive. The issue is the Hurricanes struggles in December make it such that they desperately need to steal a few extra points in games like this. That said, as far as taking care of the work at hand and moving up little by little, a win in Vancouver on Wednesday would make for five out of six points on the road trip which is definitely a positive. As I said on Twitter, Wednesday’s game is as close to a must-win as you can get in January.
1) Petr Mrazek
I highlighted Petr Mrazek in my game preview. To a large degree, he has been a victim in a couple games recently where the team in front of him did not show up, but I also think he has not been quite as sharp of late. I said that he would need to be at the top of his game against a top-tier Flames team, and he was exactly that. The relatively modest shot total might suggest that it was a medium night in terms of chances, but that was actually not the case. Seemingly every other shot the Flames had was a grade A chance throughout the game. Mrazek had at least 3-4 saves that probably should have been goals. He gets the first star in my book.
2) Dougie Hamilton
He had a strong game in his return to Calgary. He scored the Hurricanes first goal on a bang-bang play getting the puck to the front of the net. He had a nifty move in the third period and clanged the post. And he made a number of good defensive plays. The only mark on his game was a tripping penalty that maybe saw Johnny Gaudreau go down a bit easily. Regardless, Hamilton had a strong game.
3) Brock McGinn
I really liked his game and resilience. He was victimized on Calgary’s first goal when he turned the puck over on the boards and then let the Flames defenseman walk right around him to the front of the net. But his game was stellar other than that. In rotating back, he found himself in the unenviable position of defending Gaudreau with a head of steam off the rush. Just as he was about to be eaten alive doing his best impression of a defenseman he got enough help from behind that he could step up, surprise Gaudreau and separate him from the puck. He had two other great plays to break up rushes backchecking and one of those led to him carrying the puck into the offensive zone and leaving it for Hamilton on his goal. In all three zones, I thought he played well other than the one early mishap.
4) Brett Pesce
It was in his usual quiet, understated way, but I thought Brett Pesce played especially well. He consistently did well to get a piece of everything be it his stick on his puck or physically playing the body.
5) Trying to make up for past sins
As I said on Twitter shortly after the game, the issue with the Hurricanes is not getting a single point against the Flames. That is in general a positive result. The issue with the Hurricanes is that they need to steal at least a few games like this one to make up for some of December’s ills.
Next up is a quick turnaround for the team’s finale before the All-Star break against the Canucks in Vancouver on Wednesday night.