Saturday’s game presented an opportunity for the Hurricanes to convert a good win on Thursday night against the Rangers into a 2-game winning streak. With a 3-2 overtime loss, the Canes will instead have to settle for a 2-game point streak.
With an early injury and also, I believe, a dash of Peters going for it against a team at the playoff cut line. The Hurricanes shortened their bench and arguably made enough plays to win but instead were pushed to overtime where they lost.
Recap of Hurricanes 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs
The game started with a bang in a bad kind of way. On his first shift of the night, trying to follow up on his strong debut on Thursday, Valentin Zykov was drive into the boards at least partially from behind by Roman Polak and left with what was termed an upper body injury and did not return. As for the hockey, Hurricanes dominated play early and collected a good number of shots early before Toronto registered their first. The good guys got on the scoreboard first when Viktor Rask scored from a wide angle on a low probability shot that beat Frederik Andersen maybe through a screen. Peters maybe got worked a bit by his old boss when the Maple Leafs managed to get a scoring line out against Dahlbeck/Murphy and the Hurricanes forth line. The result was loose defensive play in the defensive zone that saw Mitch Marner receive a pass right at the face-off circle with enough space to quickly tee it up and beat Cam Ward. The first period ended with a 1-1 tie.
The Hurricanes struck next on the power play with a recent working formula that saw a point player directly in front of the goalie (Elias Lindholm again) and a forward on the point (Teuvo Teravainen) shooting through the screen. Jordan Staal was also there to help create the chaos that led to the goal that seemed to go off a defenseman and in. In a strange one, the Hurricanes basically won a face-off in the neutral zone only to see defensemen Justin Faulk and Klas Dahlbeck both slow to react. 2 Leafs burst through and James Van Riemsdyk retrieved the puck and fired through a Dahlbeck screen as Faulk and Dahlbeck kept backing up.
The third period saw both goaltenders hold the fort in a fairly busy 1 in terms of shots on goal with Andersen facing 11 shots and Ward 10. Overtime ended in a frustrating fashion. Viktor Rask made a strong play to control the puck and circle the offensive zone while his 2 line mates changed, but then he failed to get rid of the puck and get off the ice himself. The result was a turnover at the offensive blue line likely at least partially due to fatigue. At the other end, the man he was marking walked freely across the top of the circles with Rask unable to close space and then shoot off of Ward’s pad and into the net.
‘What I’m watching’ follow up
If you missed the game preview and want to see the details, it is HERE.
1) Young leaders rising up – Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho
I think Peters really went for it in this game and shortened the bench early and distributed ice time with a ‘win today’ mentality. He was down a forward for pretty much the entire game with Zykov going down on his first shift, but he had 6 defensemen at his disposal. Slavin’s massive 29:47 of ice time which bettered even Faulk by almost 3 minutes shows very clearly who Peters considers to be his leader on the blue line right now. After a huge game on Tuesday, Sebastian Aho had a quieter game but not a bad 1.
2) A follow up for Valentin Zykov
It is impossible to know Polak’s thought process and intentions, but from watching the video, I think his hit on Zykov was 1 of those that marginally, maybe, barely fits within the rules of the game with the puck there and Zykov sort of turning while being hit. I think the hit was also 1 of the variety that would happen much less if players put the safety of their hockey brethren above going for a big finish. Here is hoping that Valentin Zykov is okay and back in the lineup soon.
3) A challenge for the defense
By no means did the Hurricanes defense completely shut down the Maple Leafs young forwards, but it was not a bad night either. The Leafs’ regulation shot total was a reasonable 25, and the Canes’ game was reasonably clean of the bad variety of break downs. Of the 3 goals, only the second that saw Dahlbeck and Faulk not do much of anything was something that 1 might try to hang largely on the defense.
4) Special teams
After giving up 3 power play goals to the Rangers on Thursday, the Hurricanes penalty kill rebounded with a better effort against a very good Maple Leafs’ power play stopping the unit twice and scoring a power play marker to be plus 1 on special teams for the night.
Skinner/Rask/Lindholm: The Rask line was incredibly good all night and easily could have had more than Rask’s goal. Despite not picking up a point on the score sheet, I thought Saturday’s game was Skinner’s best since his return from his 2-game layoff. He was active and dynamic all night and played the attacking brand of his hockey that usually leads to the next scoring binge. Lindholm continues to play well, especially in terms of doing the important small things. He drew a penalty from Zaitsev in the first period when he got in his kitchen battling in front of the net. He was the primary screen on the Teravainen goal. And he collected an assist on the Rask goal. Most encouraging about his play for a fairly extended period of time now are his level of physical engagement and also his concerted effort to go to the front of the net. Aside from the overtime play, Rask also had a strong game with a goal. And aside from the nights when Aho goes off and makes his line tops, the Rask line is the team’s best right now.
Brett Pesce: Lost in Noah Hanifin’s rise, Jaccob Slavin’s stellar play and Faulk’s improvement is the fact that Brett Pesce continues to be a steady and sound top 4 defenseman.
Half right is still have wrong when attention to details are crucial in overtime: As I noted above, Rask followed up a good decision with a bad 1 that played a significant role in the game’s conclusion. When puck possession and fresh vs. tired is everything, Rask needs to be better at the end of the overtime.
Going for it with the top dogs: Zykov logged only 0:37 due to injury. In addition, Murphy clocked in with 7:38, Patrick Brown with 6:30 and Jay McClement with 7:13. That left a ton of ice time for only 5 defensemen and 9 forwards with Peters playing ‘do or die’ hockey.
Tough last goal: The last goal was an odd 1. Ward seemed to be slow readying to defend the shot such that he did not yet have his pads parallel to the goal line when the puck arrived. The result was that the shot went right off his pad and angled into the net instead of wide of it. When asked about the goal in 1 of the first questions of the press conference Peters said he had not seen it yet, but based on his recent goalie angst, I cannot imagine it will be 1 that he is happy with once he sees it.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a late trip to Brooklyn following behind the North Carolina basketball contingent. The Hurricanes play the Islanders in Brooklyn on Monday and then quickly return for a rematch in Raleigh on Tuesday.