The Hurricanes are no strangers to adversity but last night against the Islanders, they were put in an unusual scenario when captain Eric Staal left the game with an injury. Staal has missed a total of 14 games in his 732 game career, so not having him out there was a strange sight. It's also very unfortunate that it had to happen at this particular time because the Canes are already missing two of their centers (Riley Nash and Elias Lindholm) and have been a team carried by their top-six for most of the season. Their forward depth has been poor for most of the year and with their remaining centers being Jordan Staal, Manny Malhotra & Brett Sutter, the Canes were going to need their depth to get out of Long Island with a win.
Thankfully, the Canes depth managed to came through with all three centers scoring and it was enough for them to beat the Islanders 3-2. Most of that was thanks to goaltender Anton Khudobin, who had a stellar outing with 38 saves including a few big ones in the third period. I wouldn't say that Khudobin had to steal this game on his own, as the team in front of him played a solid game for the most part, but it's doubtful that the Canes would have won this in regulation without him.
For most of the game, the Hurricanes did a good job at controlling the Islanders offense and stifling them in the neutral zone. However, there were moments where they allowed them to get through and the Isles ended up getting plenty of good looks. Carolina's defense did a good job of breaking plays up in the slot and getting in the shooting lanes early in the game but that seemed to fade late in the third period. Part of that was aided by the Islanders pulling the goalie with three minutes left to get an extra skater, but the Canes still sat back for a lot of that period and it nearly cost them, as Khudobin had to make a big save on Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald at literally the last second to preserve a 3-2 win for the Canes.
The injury to Eric Staal and the back-to-back situation probably forced the Hurricanes to play a more conservative style in the third period, but were lucky to escape this game with a regulation win with how much pressure the Islanders had late. Not a bad performance considering the circumstances, but still a little too close for comfort.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Fairly even game for the most part with the Isles having a slight edge in possession through the first two periods. The Fenwick chart goes against my impressions from the game because I thought the Isles came on strong in the third period, but the Canes had a few stretches where they were in control, and apparently logged a lot of shot attempts during that time. So the Canes were a little more aggressive in the third period than I gave them credit for, but the Isles still had a lot of pressure late in the game. Part of that was aided by them having an extra man for three minutes, but the Canes still looked under siege then and barely managed to hang on.
Again, this was a pretty even game and the Islanders ended up having an edge in scoring chances thanks to their late flurry with the empty net. Carolina surprisingly had an advantage in even strength scoring chances despite being behind in the possession battle for 2/3 of the game.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Nathan Gerbe +4
Worst EV Forward: Tuomo Ruutu -2
Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -6
Carolina somehow managed to win this game and fight the Islanders to a draw in possession despite Eric Staal's injury AND Jeff Skinner having a pretty quiet game. Skinner made a key play on the Brett Sutter goal but he was limited to only one scoring chance on the night. Picking up the slack for him were Tuomo Ruutu and Patrick Dwyer, the latter of which had maybe his best game of the season. Dwyer's line with Jordan Staal & Nathan Gerbe had a nice bounce-back performance after a couple of off-games and they were easily Carolina's best line in all three zones. They didn't produce as much offense as they could have, but they managed to hold John Tavares quiet at even strength and that counts for a lot.
Proudcing a good bit of the offense was Alexander Semin, who spent most of this game with Manny Malhotra and Brett Sutter centering him. Both of those players saw their on-ice numbers go up thanks to the increase in minutes and Semin's play wasn't affected too much by it. I actually thought Sutter played his best game as an NHL-er and Malhotra came up big with his goal and he also made a key clear on the last shift of the game. He's still limited, though and ended up in the red in chances with the increased ice time.
Ron Hainsey & Brett Bellemore had a rough game against Washington and they responded with a terrific performance last night. They were on the ice for the Isles only even strength goal of the game thanks to a horrendous turnover by Drayson Bowman, but they had a clean slate otherwise and kept the Islanders second line in check. Sekera/Faulk also had a solid performance but had trouble preventing chances against the Islanders first line. JML & Murphy also had a good game, albeit non-eventful but that probably isn't a bad thing for them.
Islanders Individual Scoring Chances
|Calvin de Haan||0||2||1||2|
Islanders On-Ice Scoring Chances
|44||Calvin de Haan||20:03||8||6||0:00||0||0||1:33||0||0|
Best EV Forwards: Michael Grabner, Colin McDonald & Ryan Strome +1
Worst EV Forwards: Kyle Okposo & Thomas Vanek -2
Best EV Defenseman: Travis Hamonic +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Matt Carkner -4
Tavares has been a Hurricanes killer in years past and he hurt them last night with a goal, but he was actually held in check at even strength. Carolina outshot New York 28-12 during 5v5 play when he was on the ice and one of his chances came with the net empty. Still, that line was responsible lf or half of the Islanders even strength offense, although they gave a decent amount of it back at the other end.
Oddly enough, Carolina didn't have a lot of success away from Tavares, as most of the Islanders other forwards were either even or in the black in terms of scoring chances.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Nnot having your top line center is going to lead to some matchup problems and Carolina had plenty of those, most of them occurring when Malhotra's line was on the ice. Tavares' goal happened off a turnover from that line and they were the only forward trio to get outchanced against the Isles first line. They made up for some of that against Nielsen's line and had a lot of success against Strait/Carkner, as well.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
It's a shame that Carolina couldn't get more traction in the neutral zone because they had a ton of a success when they were able to carry the puck in. They went wide on a lot of their entries, evidenced by the high number of carry-ins by wingers, and were able to create a lot of offense on the rush. Gerbe & Skinner were easily their best players in this regard and even their bottom-sixers were having some success in the neutral zone, most notably Drayson Bowman & Zach Boychuk.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
The Islanders created fewer shots off zone entries but their overall numbers are similar to Carolina's. Their first line had a pretty quiet game for their standards, though. Tavares, Vanek & Okposo carried the puck in eight times but the Isles generated only four shots off them. Their second and third lines, however, did much better here with Ryan Strome & Michael Grabner both having impressive performances.
The Hurricanes had a pretty clean game exiting the zone. They didn't turn the puck over that many times during five-on-five play and their defensemen were able to get the play moving forward at a decent rate. The only black mark is John-Michael Liles advancing the puck once on 12 attempts, which is strange for someone that's a pretty good puck-mover. Faulk's performance on the top pairing more than makes up for that, as he did a fantastic job of finding open forwards in the neutral zone and making good passes to them.
|44||Calvin de Haan||D||26||3||5||0||4||1|
Unlike the Hurricanes, the Islanders had a fairly difficult time at exiting the zone and most of it stems from their defense turning the puck over. Everyone except the Hickey/MacDonald pairing was able to advance the puck at a decent rate but the number of times they turned it over is kind of alarming. Four of them came from Calvin de Haan, who I thought had an impressive game otherwise.