On Saturday, the Hurricanes collected their first loss of the season in a sub-par effort that capped off what had in my opinion been a downward trend despite the continued winning streak. That set Tuesday’s match up against the Lightning as the first try for the 2021-22 season to respond to a loss. The response was a good one. The Hurricanes were not perfect but they were significantly better than Saturday, and the compete level was definitely there.
After a miserable first period that dug a 0-4 deficit on Saturday, the Hurricanes started much better on Tuesday. Tampa Bay actually had the advantage very early, but the Hurricanes were the better team for the rest of the second period. The second period had some ups and downs, but the Hurricanes continued generating scoring chances and playing even or better hockey. It took a late goal and two (one was offsides) overtime winners, but the Hurricanes emerged with one of their best wins of the season.
My notes follow.
1) The response
More than anything, the watch point for Tuesday was how the Hurricanes responded after a first loss and a lackluster effort at least early in the game on Saturday. Regardless of outcome, the Hurricanes scored well in that regard. The game was still far from perfect but the effort was there. The Hurricanes dialed up the intensity and were the better team for much of the game despite struggling to crack Andrei Vasilevskiy.
2) Jaccob Slavin
With Brett Pesce still out of the lineup, Brind’Amour leaned heavily on Slavin who logged more than 28 minutes of ice time and had a strong game.
3) Continued issues with top four depth
On Saturday, one of the negatives was the play of the Pesce-less second pairing with Tony DeAngelo and Brady Skjei. That duo struggled again at times on Tuesday. On either the first or second shift of the game, the Lightning had a near miss on a centering pass to the front of the net. Tampa Bay’s lone goal saw a player walk right around DeAngelo and then Skjei neither take away time and space for the puck carrier nor take away a passing lane to the front of the net. The result was an easy goal for Stamkos. A couple shifts later DeAngelo had another Lightning player get behind him off the rush. In general, DeAngelo looked like he was in over his head playing regular shifts against scoring lines.
4) Frederik Andersen
The game was an odd one for Andersen. Vasilevskiy stood out more simply because the the volume of chances he saw, but a few Canes breakdowns required heroics in a game with little margin for error. Andersen was flawless again being beaten only by the Stamkos goal on which he had no chance and catching a break on another shot that got behind him but hit the crossbar.
5) The penalty kill/special teams
After a rough night in Saturday’s loss, the penalty kill also rebounded with a perfect 4 for 4. Coupled with a power play goal, special teams was the difference. The one lowlight was the Hurricanes seeming unwillingness to shoot the puck on an extended 5-on-3 that also saw Vasilevskiy trying to play on one wheel after his skate blade literally shot out of his skate. The Hurricanes were too cute trying to get the perfect shot that never came. Had the team lost, that would be the play most pointed to.
6) Brady Skjei and then Martin Necas
It took two snipes beating Vasilevskiy to pull out the overtime win after Skjei’s was taken off the board because of an offsides, but both players still deserve credit.
Next up is a return home for a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues.