After Carolina put on a show against Florida at home on Saturday night, fans were treated to a slightly less-thrilling affair the following night in the rematch between the two teams. The pattern of the game was a bit similar with the Canes getting a 3-0 lead and the Panthers playing catchup for the rest of the game, but this was was much less eventful and Carolina didn't even come close to dominating Florida like they did in the previous matchup. In fact, the Panthers were the ones who had the edge in even strength play last night, as they outshot the Canes 33-19 at even strength and outchanced them 16-12 overall. Part of the reason was because of Carolina having a 3-0 lead for 30+ minutes, but the Hurricanes weren't exactly controlling the play at even strength for most of the game and the goaltending tandem of Cam Ward & Dan Ellis bail them out a couple times in the first and third periods respectively.
Getting a three goal cushion early in the game is always a good thing but both goaltenders had to do their share of work to make sure that the Panthers didn't pull off a comeback.
Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers 3/3/2013
The Hurricanes went into this game with yet another different lineup and it resulted in some weird lines throughout the game along with some disjointed play at even strength. They also lost goaltender Cam Ward to what we are all hoping is a minor injury but he definitely earned his pay-check for the night with how he played in the first period to keep the score at 0-0 as the Hurricanes started the game off by getting outchanced 4-1 in the first five minutes. Ellis also had to do his fair share of work in the third period to seal up a win for the Hurricanes with the team opting to sit back on a two-goal lead. The players probably started to feel the wear and tear of playing three games in four nights but Florida came into tonight under the same conditions. Although, it's worth noting that half of Florida's chances in the third period came when they had an extra attacker on.
Carolina started to take over the game towards the end of the first period and for most of the second period where they outchanced the Panthers 10-6 over a 30-minute span and scored all three of their goals. I don't think Carolina will be able to get away with playing this type of hockey against other teams but it was all they needed to pull out a win in Sunrise. In the end, it's two points and a division win in the books but I'm sure that Kirk Muller knows this team didn't exactly play to the best of their abilities
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forward: Alexander Semin +3
Worst EV Forwards: Patrick Dwyer & Riley Nash -3
Best EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain -5
The top line had yet another game where they didn't produce that many scoring chances but cashed in on the ones they did create. As a unit, they produced only four scoring chances, which was the highest on the team, and one of them ended up being a goal with Alexander Semin recording his fifth tally of the year. Much like last night, Florida's defense created their own problems here as both Brian Campbell & Erik Gudbranson allowed Alexander Semin to get behind them (untouched I might add) and Tlusty spotted him in front of the net for him to score a very easy goal. Add in that Semin was also on-ice for Jordan Staal's goal and his on-ice shooting percentage is probably through the roof right now. Simple regression should tell you that will come down eventually but this line is still on-pace to have a great year offensively as long as they continue to produce more chances than they give up. They have done a fine job at that the last three games.
Meanwhile, the third line kind of fell back to earth after a terrific performance by Riley Nash and Jussi Jokinen the previous night. Muller did what he could to protect them and the McBain/Sanguinetti defense pairing by giving them a zone start push but Kevin Dineen countered this by sending out Jonathan Huberdeau's line almost every time this unit was on the ice. They ended up taking a beating in this matchup and not producing much offense as a result. Nash, Dwyer & Jokinen actually had a relatively good night in terms of their ability to create rushes from the neutral zone but it wasn't resulting in many scoring chances. I feel like they did some good things last night but it wasn't giving the Hurricanes results, which is unfortunate when you look at how much of a territorial advantage they were given.
Jordan Staal scored his fifth goal of the season tonight but his line was neutralized when it came to five-on-five play and ended up underwater thanks to Florida adding on a few extra chances with the extra attacker. He and Jeff Skinner got yet another new right winger tonight with Tim Wallace filling in for the injured Chad LaRose. To put it simply, Wallace didn't add much to this line. Yes, it's nice that he adds a physical presence but he isn't creating much offense if he is constantly dumping and tipping the puck into the zone instead of gaining the blue line with possession. He is basically just a bigger version of Chad LaRose with a lesser offensive skillset, so I'm hoping his time on the second line is short-lived. I actually like what Wallace brings to the Hurricanes but he isn't a good fit in the top-six.
In news that surprises no one, Justin Faulk & Jay Harrison shined as the team's best defense pairing for yet another game and were on-ice for only two of Florida's five-on-five scoring chances. Gleason & Corvo also had solid games despite not producing much offense but they were given the tougher assignments in terms of where they started most of their shifts. McBain & Sanguinetti were the ones who struggled as they were on-ice for over half of Florida's five-on-five chances and that was with them starting three extra shifts in the offensive zone. Although, they weren't sheltered in terms of who they were being matched up against since Dineen kept getting Shore, Huberdeau & Mueller out against them for the first two periods, which is a mismatch with how good those three have been.
Panthers Individual Scoring Chance Numbers
Best EV Forward: Jonathan Huberdeau +8
Worst EV Forwards: Stephen Weiss & Tomas Kopecky -4
Best EV Defensemen: Brian Campbell, Colby Robak & Erik Gudbranson +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Filip Kuba -2
Stephen Weiss might be having a terrible season, but Florida's young talent has been fantastic this year. Huberdeau, Shore & Mueller were amazing last night and Florida's main catalyst on offense. They have been a bright spot for the Panthers this season and carved up the Hurricanes defense last night. Dineen gave them just about every advantage possible by constantly sending them out against Carolina's third defense pairing but you can't fault the youngsters for taking advantage of it. I know Huberdeau's been getting some publicity across the league but Shore has also been very impressive and Mueller has turned out to be a very nice signing for the Cats, as well. Although, a problem here is that none of Florida's other forwards did much in terms of creating scoring chances last night.
Campbell/Gudbranson made a huge gaffe on the Semin goal but these two did end up in the red in scoring chances, mostly because they were a huge part of Florida's offense. That's generally the type of game Campbell will give you on most nights with his high risk/reward style of play but he ended up doing more good than harm in the end. Also, Colby Robak might be a tad underrated. He was one of Florida's only defensemen who didn't get crushed in scoring chances last night and ended up a +2 tonight while starting three extra shifts in the defensive zone. It was with third-pairing minutes but it doesn't hurt to have good depth players. Something that Florida appears to be lacking judging by their scoring chance numbers over the last couple of games.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
I mentioned that Huberdeau's line was primarily used against Carolina's depth players and while they did do most of their damage against them, they outchanced almost everyone who the Hurricanes threw in their path. The lone exceptions being Justin Faulk and Alexander Semin. I do enjoy looking at how well the top-six performed away from the Huberdeau line, though because that's part of the reason why the Hurricanes were able to establish a three-goal cushion early in the game. Two of their goals came against Weiss' line and the top-six pretty much had their way with them for most of the contest. Also of note is how poorly Matthias played in this game compared to Saturday night. That's what happens.when you don't get the luxury of facing the other team's fourth line for 75% of your ice-time. Dineen is a coach who likes to protect his best players (we saw this with Weiss, Versteeg & Fleischmann last year) and he's doing that with Huberdeau, Shore & Mueller right now but it's coming at the expense of the rest of his lineup, especially with Marcel Goc not playing up to his normal standards. Sounds like the Cats could use Sean Bergenheim right about now.
|1||CAR||1:52||Faulk – GOAL||20||39||36||27||44||30||11||15||88||47||51||30||5v5|
|1||CAR||0:52||Semin – GOAL||12||19||28||27||44||30||9||18||82||44||51||30||5v5|
|2||CAR||13:50||J. Staal – GOAL||11||53||28||27||44||30||13||15||88||17||23||30||5v5|
|2||FLA||3:55||Huberdeau – GOAL||20||39||36||4||24||31||11||15||88||17||23||30||5v5|
|3||FLA||0:55||Huberdeau – GOAL||11||53||28||6||27||31||11||15||88||82||14||51||5v6|