With the recent losing streak, slide in the standings and need to get on the board sooner rather than later for the long five game road trip that started with a loss, Saturday’s two points are a huge positive.
Giving up a third period lead and handing the Islanders a point in the process was not ideal, but entering with a four-game losing streak, it is not time to look a gift horse in the mouth. The Canes picked up two points which is plus two on the Blue Jackets and Rangers and still an okay plus one on the Islanders.
And with game #66 out of 82 now in the books, we are very much at the ‘results trump process’ time of year.
As for the game, I did not think it was overly impressive, but there were elements of better. The first period started maybe about as one would expect with two struggling teams trying to find their way. The front part of the game was played cautiously and without much of the aggressive attacking that you see in good teams this time of year. The shot total for both teams was a whopping three shots nearly 10 minutes into the game. But the even version of ‘meh’ was a significant upgrade for the Hurricanes who have mostly spent first periods digging holes of late. So the slow 0-0 start was fine. Once the Hurricanes added a goal when Justin Williams tipped a Haydn Fleury shot into traffic to post the Canes a 1-0 lead, the first period became an overwhelming success compared to most of recent history.
The negative transition from the end of the first period into the beginning of the second period was the Hurricanes failure to score on three straight power plays to extend the lead. Then, sure enough, a familiar monster reappeared to let an Islanders team that was struggling to generate offense right back into the game. First, Martin Necas turned the puck over at the offensive blue line to create an immediate scoring chance. Then Brady Skjei retrieved the puck only to get pick-pocketed by Anders Lee. The result was a bunch of Canes defenders mostly lost trying to recover while the Isles zipped a pass right through Jake Gardiner for a quick receive and finish to tie the game at 1-1. The rest of the period was fairly even until the Hurricanes took a couple late penalties, but the penalty came up big to get the Canes into the third period tied at 1-1.
The Hurricanes struck first in the third period when Joel Edmundson joined the rush and finished a rebound on a Teuvo Teravainen shot. The Hurricanes held on until just under five minutes remaining in regulation when a wrap-around chance saw a rebound find an Islanders stick for a quick finish with Trevor van Riemsdyk and Jake Gardiner both in the neighborhood but not doing much to defend. That late goal sent the game on its way to overtime.
The Hurricanes carried most of a high-sticking double minor over into overtime and finally converted on a power play. A shot by Aho generated a rebound for Svechnikov who batted the puck out of mid-air to Trocheck who finished to notch his first point as a Hurricane. The controversial goal that could seemingly have been called for being batted down with a high stick earned the Hurricanes a much-needed win.
Player and other notes
1) Anton Forsberg
In a game where the pressure was high and the margin for error small, Anton Forsberg played well. The quantity and quality of shots that he saw were below average, but he was good in earning a win.
2) Justin Williams
He scored a big goal by playing at the top of the crease to collect his third goal in as many games. His strategy is not complicated. He spends as much time as possible where goals are likely to happen and has decent hands to finish when the opportunity presents itself. The team in general could use a bunch more crashing the crease.
3) Joel Edmundson
He had a big game with his goal being the biggest highlight but his defensive play also being significant in a tight-checking game.
4) Vincent Trocheck
Good for him collecting his point as a Hurricane in a big way and getting the monkey off his back. I thought Trocheck looked good in his first few games despite not scoring but more recently had been trying to do too much. His line still had a tough night defensively, but hopefully his overtime game-winner will propel him forward.
5) Results above all else
The Rangers and Blue Jackets both lost which means that the Hurricanes gained points on three teams battling for the two wild card slots. Only the Florida Panthers won on Saturday night.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a quick turnaround and another matinee in Pittsburgh on Sunday at 1:30pm.