All good things must come to an end and unfortunately for the Hurricanes, their five game winning streak ended last night, getting shutout 3-0 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Some clubs always seem to have the other teams numbers and the Blue Jackets always seem to own the Canes for whatever reason. It has been eight years since the Hurricanes last defeated Columbus and something always seems to be off whenever they play each other. Either they can't buy a goal, have an off-night from their own goalie or they fall into a rut for a few minutes and it ends up costing them the game. Last night's loss was sort of a combination of all these factors.
I would be hard pressed to say that Carolina "outplayed" Columbus, but this was far from their worst performance. They came out strong, tested Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with a few early chances and fell behind after two mistakes ended up in the back of their net. The last one being a trend that has lasted all season long. Carolina spent the rest of the game playing catch-up while the Jackets were in lockdown mode and only pressing for offense when the Canes made a mistake.
Bobrovsky had to bail out the Jackets a few times, especially in the third period, but I didn't think the Canes looked great as a whole. They struggled to create offense, despite what the shot count tells you, and had a lot trouble handling the Jackets forecheck. Most of their chances were only one-and-done, as Bobrovsky didn't give up many rebounds and when he did, no Carolina players were there to put them in. Everyone just seemed like they weren't on the same page, which is expected in a back-to-back on the road.
All in all, a frustrating game but not the worst in the world. It makes Monday's game against the Calgary Flames about 10 times more important, though.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
It was nice being on the positive end of score effects while it lasted, although Carolina played a good first period aside from the 70 seconds where they committed two mistakes that resulted in goals for the Jackets. Still, Carolina had a big edge in shots after that and tried to pepper Bobrovsky as much as they could in the second period. They weren't exactly being creative with their approach or getting traffic in front, though so that's partially why they came away with nothing to show for their efforts. The way they started the third period was also disappointing because the game was still in reach then. That all ended when the Jackets hemmed Carolina in on their first couple of shifts and then drew a double-minor penalty. Columbus didn't score until the very end of the power play, but the Canes looked gassed at that point and Cam Atkinson's goal put this game out of reach.
It's hard to beat Bobrovsky when he is on his game and the Canes certainly weren't getting anything past him last night with how deliberate their offensive approach was. They forced him to make a few big saves late in the game but all it would have done then is break the shutout and nothing more.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Nathan Gerbe, Jeff Skinner, Patrick Dwyer & Alex Semin +2
Worst EV Forward: Radek Dvorak -2
Best EV Defenseman: Andrej Sekera +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -1
After the balanced performance of the Toronto game, the Hurricanes went back to having their top-six produce most of their offense. Zach Boychuk was the only non top-six player to create a chance at even strength and the third line was basically invisible. It's also worth mentioning that three of the chances from Jordan Staal's line came late in the game when Carolina was already down three goals, so it was basically one line doing all the work for the Canes.
That line being Jeff Skinner, Alex Semin and Elias Lindholm. Lindholm started the game as a winger on the fourth line, but was quickly moved up and he looked solid in between Skinner & Semin. He nearly had his second goal in as many games, but was robbed with a great glove save by Bobrovsky. His rookie season has been one marred by frustration and injuries, but he is starting to look more and more comfortable in the NHL now.
Muller made an interesting call to dress Jay Harrison, which is playing with fire against a fast team like the Blue Jackets, and he along with John-Michael Liles were essentially the first pairing going by ice time. The Canes were pressing for offense late in the game, so Liles got some extra minutes and had a solid game. He ended up a negative player in terms of possession but he did make a couple of great defensive plays to prevent the Jackets from taking a 2-0 lead in the second period. It's still the honeymoon period, but Liles has fit in nicely so far. Harrison, unfortunately, was on the ice for more Columbus chances than any other player and was dinged for one goal against, although he wasn't necessarily at fault for it.
Blue Jackets Individual Scoring Chances
Blue Jackets On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Nathan Horton & Bonne Jenner +1
Worst EV Forwards: Ryan Craig & Mark Letestu -2
Best EV Defensemen: Fedor Tyutin & Jack Johnson +3
Worst EV Defensemen: Ryan Murray & James Wisniewski -4
I'm not sure what it is, but Jack Johnson always seems to play well against the Hurricanes and last night was no different. Him and Fedor Tyutin did an excellent job of limiting Jordan Staal's line and hemming them into their own zone, which is no easy feat. Todd Richards seemed to change his matchups as the game went on, using Wisniewski/Murray & Johnson/Tyutin against Carolina's second and third lines while Nikitin & Savard spent a good chunk of their ice time against the Canes first line. Richards also rotated Umberger & Dubinsky's lines against the Canes big guns.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
All three chances Jordan's line created against Dubinsky's was during the third period, so that line kept Jordan under wraps for most of the game. Liles/Harrison managed to come out relatively unscathed despite playing way more minutes than they are used to, though.
5v5 Zone Entries
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"Delibrate" is how I would describe Carolina's forecheck last night. They were playing the second night of a back-to-back and missing their first line center, so the memo was to get pucks behind the defense and get it on net whenever you had a chance. Or at least that's how it seemed judging from the eye-test and the zone entry stats. Semin, Gerbe, Skinner, Ruutu & Dwyer were the only ones creating any fofense on the rush and the bottom-six did basically ntohing offensively.
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Columbus used their speed to their advantage, creating most of their offense on the rush and doing a great job of finding gaps in the Canes defense. Johansen, Jenner, Ansimov and Horton led the way for them and Nick Foligno was also heavily relied on in the neutral zone.
5v5 Zone Exits
Carolina spent a lot of time regrouping in their own end thanks to Columbus' forecheck giving them fits, but their defense actually did a decent job of advancing the play. The forwards, on the other hand, struggled. Columbus' first two goals were the result of two defensive/neutral zone turnovers by Carolina forwards (Sutter & Ruutu) and they advanced the play at a very low rate. It's unfortunate because Harrison & Bellemore had one of their better games at exiting the zone.
Columbus was sloppy coming out of their own end and they were a bit lucky that it didn't come back to haunt them. David Savard had a couple of awful turnovers in the first period, one of which went right to the stick of Alex Semin, and the Hurricanes couldn't take advantage. Part of this is because the Jackets did a nice job of recovering after they made a mistake and collapsing on whoever had the puck for Carolina. That's why they didn't give up many chances. Maybe the Canes can learn a few things here?