First and foremost, thoughts and prayers go out to Eddie Lack hoping that he is okay. I will not speculate on the injury. The end of Monday’s game is a fitting reminder that even during the intense stretch run at the end of the season, there are things that are more important than hockey games.
For those who missed the game preview and are interested in a little bit of Detroit Red Wings versus Carolina Hurricanes history dating back to 2002, please check out the preview HERE. Since 2-game home sets rarely if ever happen, the Monday/Tuesday set is the most important between the 2 teams since June 8 and in 2002.
On the hockey front, the story of the game was the Hurricanes possibly reacting to the pressure a bit and just making far too many mistakes which accounted for the vast majority of Detroit’s offense.
Recap for Hurricanes 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings
The Hurricanes looked good early in terms of pace and winning pucks in their own end, but their play, as well as the Red Wings’ play, was disjointed in terms of moving the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone with possession. After accumulating a decent number of low to medium-grade chances early, the Hurricanes broke onto the scoreboard first on what looked like a harmless shot. Jaccob Slavin fed Skinner the puck from across the offensive zone, and Skinner seemed to half whiff on the shot that went partially of of Mike Green and right through Petr Mrazek who was sitting deep in net, did not really react to the shot and left a hole for the puck to trickle through. For the period, the Hurricanes did a decent job of limiting the volume of scoring chances had to survive a few too many mistakes that created dangerous chances. Slavin took away a 2-on-1 when the Canes were caught in a bad change. Eddie Lack had the answer when Darren Helm got behind Klas Dahlbeck and Ryan Murphy. And Dylan Larkin fired high after Noah Hanifin shied away from a hit just inside his blue line and gave away the puck in the process. The Hurricanes seemed to get better as the period wore on and finished it with a 1-0 lead and a 12-16 advantage in terms of shots on goal.
The second period offered more of the same early. The Hurricanes put forward a very good effort on a power play 5 minutes into the period but failed to score when a Teravainen shot was saved by Mrazed and Lee Stempniak could not finish on 2 quick chances from right at the post. With the shots on goal totals at 20 to 8 shortly after the Hurricanes power play, 1 of the Canes ‘oopses’ that were gifting offense to Detroit finally cost them. Trying to circle at the offensive blue line Teuvo Teravainen gave the puck away for a 1-on-none rush the length of the ice. Anthony Mantha beat Lack.
Barely more than 1 minute later another collective group ‘oops’ saw another round of Mantha versus Lack in alone for a Detroit goal and 2-1 lead. In a play reminiscent of the Skinner from years past when he often took much risk at the wrong time for too little upside, Skinner had the puck with minimal pressure at the center line. Instead of getting the puck deep to support the line change, he tried to make a move and lost the puck at a bad time in a bad place. With his team mates trying to change behind the play, Dahlbeck tangled up with an official trying to get into the play, no forwards were in position to help and finally Ryan Murphy slid too far to 1 side playing the rush horribly. At that point in the game, Detroit had generated very little offensively that did not include a Canes ‘oops’ to help, had only 11 shots on goal but were staked to a 2-1 lead. Next, the teams traded grade A chances when Mrazek made a save on a Jordan Staal shot off a nice pass from Ryan Murphy. Then it was Lack’s turn. He made a big save on a point blank chance off of another Teravainen turnover. The Canes appeared to be destined to start the third period with a deficit until Justin Faulk scored a pretty skilled forward goal scorer’s goal. A Slavin whiff found Faulk at the top of the circle from where Faulk niftily stickhandled around a defender and then quickly beat Mrazek setting the stage for a winner takes all third period.
Teravainen’s challenging night continued shortly after the opening face-off of the third period when he took a tripping penalty to put the Canes shorthanded. The Hurricanes survived 2 minutes shorthanded but were still on their heels for most of the front part of the third period. Another Skinner turnover when he maybe tried to do a bit too much again and coughed up the puck at the offensive blue line. All 3 Canes forwards were behind the play leaving the 2 defensemen to defend a rush through the neutral zone. A rare coverage mishap for the Hurricanes’ penalty kill added to the list of mistakes and put the Red Wings up 3-2 when Thomas Tatar was left alone in front of the net and finished.
As has been the case since February 4 when the Hurricanes last won in overtime, nothing good ever seems to happen in extra hockey for the Canes these days, and Monday was much worse. The Hurricanes won 2 face-offs and had the first great chance on a Brett Pesce shot off the rush. But for the seventh straight time, the Canes collected and OTL instead of 2 points with a win. More significantly, the game eventually ended when Andreas Athanasiou scored off a rush and ran over Eddie Lack in the process. Lack was down in the net and eventually removed on a stretcher with both teams still on the ice watching.
‘What I’m watching’ follow up
1) A physical advantage?
I think the Hurricanes did look faster to pucks out of the gate. It is difficult to say whether it was pressure, just an off night or possibly fatigue, but the Hurricanes were abysmal in terms of decision-making and attention to detail. The fact that Hurricanes seemed to skate okay might suggest that the issue was not a physical one.
2) The offensive stars
When it rains it pours. Skinner is scoring on seemingly every shot he takes sometimes regardless of the quality of the chance. In games like Monday where 1 team has significant pressure to win and the other team does not, scoring first is huge. It relieves pressure and enables a team to just play without the need to press to score. Skinner’s goal was a big 1, but the star on this night was Justin Faulk who scored to pull the Canes even at 2-2 and again at 3-3 with only 51 seconds remaining. Faulk’s 2 big scoring plays were probably the biggest factor in the Hurricanes getting a point in a game with too many mistakes.
3) Peters’ shuffling
Per my article earlier today on the recent round of AHL/NHL shuffling, Peters hunkered down a bit and went back to what I would call a semi-standard home lineup. He reunited Slavin and Pesce to be a shutdown pair to play against Dylan Larkin’s line much of the night. Peters did swap things around again, but started from the basics of putting his top 9 forwards on the top 3 lines and rolled them. With the ability to dictate match ups on home ice, Peters has gone back to something closer to vanilla after pulling out the blender and trying all kinds of different flavors to spark things on the road last week.
Sloppiness in terms of attention to details: The Hurricanes were better for large volumes of ice time but intermittently sloppy. A large portion of Detroit’s offense came directly from Hurrianes’ mistakes.
The power play: The Hurricanes power play was actually very good, putting up 11 shots in less than 3 power plays. Stempniak’s missed opportunity was the best chance, but there were also others that could easily have been a goal.
Here is hoping for good news on Eddie Lack sometime early on Tuesday.
Next up is a rematch against the Red Wings again at PNC Arena on Tuesday night.