The Hurricanes were able to follow up a strong performance on Thursday night with another one last night against the Panthers, defeating them 6-2. After the win over Pittsburgh, I mentioned that one of the only bad things about that game was that the Hurricanes scoring chance production only came from their top-six players and nobody else. This wasn't the case in their win last night, as the Hurricanes got production from all four lines with their third line alone producing three goals. The Canes put together easily their strongest performance offensively last night, recording 21 scoring chances at even strength alone and 24 overall, both of which were season highs.
Florida is a bad team and they certainly showed that tonight, but it was still impressive to see the Hurricanes do such a good job of dominating the territorial game while playing with a big lead. Last night was the first time in awhile that I've seen the Hurricanes control the shot clock that much and get rewarded for it. This game was basically what the Washington Capitals did to them on Tuesday night, only with more scoring. Let's see if they can perform at a similar level tomorrow for the re-match.
Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes 3/2/2013
It's difficult to play better than the Hurricanes did for the first 40 minutes of this game. They had easily their best first period of the season where they throttled the Panthers and jumped on top with three goals all coming on consecutive scoring chances. The best part was that they didn't let up after getting such a big lead. The Canes continued to keep up the pressure and started off the second period with seven unanswered chances including two goals. Florida didn't even record a scoring chances until there were two minutes remaining the in the period. Carolina did loosen up a bit after that and allowed the Panthers to make things closer on the shot clock but the game was far out of reach at that point.
The team's performance in the first period was definitely a huge part of why they won but the fact that they didn't let up after that was also a big factor. If we've learned anything from previous Florida-Carolina matchups, it's that no early lead is safe if you sit back and try not to lose after a good first period. The Canes didn't do that and would go on to win the game in a blowout.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forwards: Jordan Staal & Alexander Semin +4
Worst EV Forwards: Tim Wallace, Kevin Westgarth & Drayson Bowman -3
Best EV Defenseman: Joe Corvo +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain & Jay Harrison +1
All of Carolina's top-nine were in the black in regards to scoring chance differential and Alexander Semin had net another fantastic night in this department. The top-line didn't create much offense overall, but they played a role in all three goals and Sasha had the primary helpers on all of them. Having three of the six scoring chances you're on ice for result in goals is usually a sign that a player got a bit lucky, but Florida kind of helped the cause with their defensive play on the Tlusty goal and Eric Staal's first one. Still, the first line wasn't on-ice for many events despite their massive scoring line. They just seemed to strike gold whenever they got the puck on net, which has been happening a lot for Tlusty lately.
The first line didn't really need to do much because the rest of the top-nine both produced more than plenty of offense, espeically the third line. Nash, Jokinen & Dwyer contributed to six of the Canes even strength scoring chances and had their best performance of the year by far. All three of them managed to do it without getting a zone start push, too which is impressive. Jokinen is someone who I thought played well even during the Hurricanes recent struggles but he wasn't getting any results. That all changed tonight as he scored two goals in the first period.
No one on the second line factored into the scoring tonight, aside from Jordan Staal being on-ice for the Tlusty goal but you can tell that Staal and Skinner were producing plenty of offense. I'd be on the lookout for one of them to have a big game soon because these two have been generating a lot of chances while playing tough minutes. That kind of hard work doesn't go unrewarded forever.
In my recap, I said that Corvo had a very solid game despite not doing much to standout and the underlying numbers reflect that. Most of the defense corps ended up being on-ice for more of a handful of Florida's even strength chances but Corvo came out smelling like a rose. However, he also played fewer minutes than msot of the team's blue-liners so the coaching staff did limit him a bit while others had to pick up more slack due to Pitkanen leaving after the first period. All of Carolina's blue-liners came away a net positive on the night thanks to the Hurricanes keeping play in Florida's end for the majority of the first 40 minutes, so no one had a "bad" night going by scoring chances.
The only players who did struggle was the fourth line, who I thought had a few very good shifts but that was undone by what they gave up. This didn't end up hurting the Canes too much in the end because Muller was smart enough to keep them away from Florida's dangerous forwards. Although, one could argue that Shawn Matthias was Florida's most dangerous forward and he was on the fourth line to start the game.
Panthers Individual Scoring Chances
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forward: Shawn Matthias +5
Worst EV Forward: Tomas Fleischmann -7
Best EV Defenseman: Colby Robak +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Tyson Strachan -7
Florida's lines ended up being a mess due to them losing three different skaters to injuries throughout the game and having Stephen Weiss booted in the third period after receiving a game misconduct. Their fourth line seemed to be the only unit that had some continuity as they were able to keep play in Carolina's end and Matthias was involved in over half of their scoring chances. I also thought Drew Shore's line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller didn't play bad either but they ended up in the red in scoring chanes. I'm pretty sure that was their "first line" by default since Weiss and Fleischmann struggled mightily without Versteeg.
Some of Flordia's defense didn't play too horrible considering they were down a man after Kulikov had to leave the game in the second period with an injury. The only players who got lit up were Tyson Stratchan and Brian Campbell and unfortunately for the Panthers, they were the ones who took a beating from the Canes top nine and Campbell ended up being on-ice for two goals against.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The big matchup that Carolina won was their third line against the Goc unit of Florida. Nash, Jokinen & Dwyer were able to create a ton of offense against them and it's no easy feat since Goc is a very good defensive center. Tyson Stratchan also took a ton of damage from this line while Campbell & Kulikov struggled to contain Jordan Staal's line. The only matchup that Florida was able to win was the battle of the fourth lines and that won't win you many games. Although, it's worth noting that the Panthers are dealing with a lot of injuries right now and this isn't their permanent roster.
|1||CAR||11:21||Tlusty – GOAL||11||19||28||6||77||30||11||15||88||17||44||30||5v5|
|1||CAR||10:32||Jokinen – GOAL||20||39||36||4||25||30||57||12||14||23||47||30||5v5|
|1||FLA||2:20||Matthias – GOAL||8||29||21||27||44||30||18||22||25||7||47||30||5v5|
|2||CAR||14:38||Nash – GOAL||20||39||36||27||44||30||18||57||25||44||47||30||5v5|
|2||CAR||6:57||E. Staal – GOAL||12||19||28||6||77||30||9||18||57||17||23||30||5v5|
|2||FLA||0:45||Kuba – GOAL||11||20||36||4||6||30||18||57||22||17||23||30||5v5|
|3||CAR||7:59||E. Staal – GOAL||12||19||28||4||6||30||57||88||82||44||51||30||5v5|