The Hurricanes entered Saturday’s game against the Islanders with a 2-0 mark on the week and fresh off a solid home win on Friday night in Raleigh. But when you are 4-5 points out of a playoff spot in early February, the mentality is very much “what have you done for me lately?” And the Hurricanes come up roses in that regard too. Another wild affair with the Islanders yielded an overtime game, a win and a perfect 6 out of 6 points for the week.

The repeatability of the formula is questionable with 2 Ron Hainsey goals, a return of the ‘iffy’ road defense and needing 5 goals to win, but we are very much at that time of year when results trump process. And on Saturday night against the Islanders, the Hurricanes got the results.


Recap of Hurricanes 5-4 overtime win versus the New York Islanders

The game on Saturday against the Islanders started reasonably evenly. There was a modest element of back and forth hockey that would grow as the game wore on, but the first period saw both teams defend reasonably and mostly steer clear of big mistakes. Despite the fairly high shot volume, the chance quality was modest. And the good guys struck first when the Isles were leaning a little too far to 1 side of the ice leaving Jaccob Slavin space to receive a pass and step into a shot from the top of the face-off circle beating goalie Jean-Francois Berube cleanly to stake the Hurricanes to a 1-0 lead at the midway point of the first period. The Isles would tie the game late in the first period on a nifty Anders Lee tip shot on a Dennis Seidenberg shot. The period ended with the Isles possessing a 14 to 10 advantage in shots on goal and the game tied at 1-1.

The second period revisited the loose defense and wild play from the Hurricanes’ 7-4 win in Raleigh in January. The Islanders struck first in the second period when Noah Hanifin ‘oopsed’ carrying the puck into the neutral zone and then losing it behind him for a quick rush the other way and goal against. But the Hurricanes bounced back quickly scoring 21 seconds later when Elias Lindholm continued his run of pretty passing plays for goals setting up Ron Hainsey for a quick shot into open net from between the circles. Lee Stempniak then scored on a blast off the rush after Jeff Skinner won a puck in the neutral zone to put the Hurricanes up 3-1. But the Hurricanes gave 1 goal back during a rough stretch for Hainsey and Faulk in the middle of the second period which is detailed below. The Hurricanes ultimately exited the second period on a high when Teuvo Teravainen scored from in close with only 2 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead at the end of 2 periods.

The third period was mostly a struggle for the Hurricanes. The Islanders tilted the ice into Ward’s end for much of the period, scored twice along the way and could have had more. The Hurricanes league-leading penalty kill gave up a rare power play goal, and the Hurricanes 1 power play opportunity in the period sputtered after better efforts earlier on Friday and also in recent games. The Hurricanes were outplayed by a wide margin for the period, were out-shot 11 to 2 and were lucky to escape into overtime despite entering the period with a 4-3 lead.

After a nail-biter killing off about a minute of Isles’ power play time to get to overtime and then the rest at the start of overtime, the Hurricanes were victorious when Tavares broke a stick and Faulk made a heady play to push forward, make space and feed Hainsey in the middle of the zone just above the face-off circles. From there Hainsey stepped into a laser and beat Berube to claim a 5-4 overtime win.


‘What I’m watching’ follow up

If you missed , the preview and want to read it in full, you can find it HERE.

1) Eddie Lack (we think)

With many, including myself, expecting Eddie Lack to play the second half of the back-to-back after a 2-game tune up in the AHL last week, Coach Bill Peters instead decided to stick with Ward. With this past and a friendly schedule from here through the end of February, it is not impossible that Eddie Lack’s return is now pushed all the way out to March. The 1 wild card might be starting Lack against the capitals figuring that game is just tough sledding no matter what. But at this point my bet is that Lack does not start until at least late February.

Ward’s stat line with 4 goals against was not pretty, but the numbers are a bit misleading. I would not say that he was lights out. He was beaten on a couple where he at least had a chance, but he was also hung out to dry by his defense on multiple occasions and did a decent job of stopping enough of those chances. I have used the term ‘good enough’ for what the Canes need from Ward in net, and on a night when the defense in front of him made things challenging, he gave the team ‘good enough’ in Saturday’s win.

2) Hainsey/Faulk

Maybe more than any players in a wild game, Hainsey/Faulk’s was a mixed bag. As I said on Twitter, I like the way Faulk is skating and attacking offensively right now. He hit the post with a blast on the power play for the second night in a row, showed a shoot first mentality on the power play all night and had 2 decent chances joining the rush offensively. And Ron Hainsey had a rare goal stepping into a soft spot and finishing quickly on a pretty Lindholm pass. And then he added another in overtime after Faulk set him up perfectly. So offensively, the group gets top marks. Defensively, I thought they were safe, sound and solid defensively in the first period. But when the Isles got sloppy in the second period and needed some help from the Canes to stay in the game, the Hainsey/Faulk pairing was accommodating. In a stretch of what I believe was just 2 shifts in the second period, the duo lost track of Bailey who whiffed on an open net. On the next shift, they lost track of Hickey walking to the front of the net with the puck and finally giving up a goal when a fairly harmless 2-on-2 rush saw Faulk back up and then back up again leaving a huge gap for Nelson to take his time, dust the puck off and label a shot as if it was warm-ups.

3) Continued strong play defensively and handling the puck from the rest of the lineup

After a decent first period, the road demons returned to drag down the Hurricanes’ defense. Hanifin was first with a bad turnover that led quickly to a 3-on-2 and a goal against. Then there was the run of dicey play by Hainsey/Faulk that led to another goal which I mentioned above. And the usually solid top pairing of Slavin/Pesce even had a pretty tough time of it on Saturday. Pesce took 2 minor penalties of the obstruction variety to go with the 1 he had yesterday. And when Isles’ interim coach Doug Weight was okay playing Tavares’ line against Slavin/Pesce in the second half of the game, they had a really tough time especially in the third period. As much as I am thrilled with the 2 points, I do not feel great about the Canes’ ability to win consistently on the road.

4) Sebastian Aho

He had a quieter game and picked up a delay of game penalty that could have been costly late in the game. But when you net it out, he had a phenomenal week, and it just is not possible to just put up a bunch of points each and every game.


Other notes

Klas Dahlbeck: He is getting his feet under him and playing exactly the kind of sound hockey that is needed from a third pairing defenseman. He even stepped in on the penalty kill when Pesce was in the penalty box twice. As a bottom pairing defenseman, you don’t have to win games. Just don’t lose them. Dahlbeck has been good in that regard in recent games. On a night when the defense was shaky at times, he played a pretty quiet game in a good way.

Elias Lindholm: As I said on Twitter during the game, Lindholm’s run of consistently strong play has for me become long enough to say that it is his best run of hockey in a Hurricanes’ uniform. He now has 3 goals and 12 assists in his last 13 games, and high percentage of the assists are the kind that make the goal happen, not the ‘I touched the puck before someone made a play’ variety.

Ron Hainsey: In this ‘just find a way to win’ time of the season, Ron Hainsey’s 2 goals were absolutely HUGE!

My checklist: Before the back-to-back set started, I compiled a list of 6 things I wanted to see this weekend from the Hurricanes.  The team was clearly successful on 3 of 6, gets mixed reviews on 2 of 6 and gets an incomplete on the last 1.

Next up for the Hurricanes is an odd restful stretch. The Hurricanes will take their NHL-mandated lay off and play only twice in the next 12 days with the next game a tough 1 in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.


What do you think Caniacs?

Am I being too hard on our defense?

Are the Canes and Isles just destined to play wild games each and every time?

What do you think about the decision to just keep riding Ward?


Go Canes!

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