Raise your hand if you've heard this story before: The Carolina lost a game in which they outshot their opponent and played a fairly solid game that was muddled by a few critical mistakes. This sums up their 3-0 shutout loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night, ending a four game winning streak and putting them one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division. This was the Hurricanes fifth game in seven days, so it was expected for them to be fatigued coming into Tuesday night and that's pretty much what they looked like for the first 30 minutes or so.
Not that the Canes started the game slow, but Montreal seemed to have an extra step and took advantage of a few coverage breakdowns Carolina had in their own zone. I don't recall many times when it looked like Montreal was dominating the territorial play, but they didn't really need to. The Hurricanes weren't exactly creating a lot of offense in the first period (only five scoring chances) and looked very confused in their own zone when Montreal activated their defense to create chances in transition. This is how they scored their first and third goals.
For a team that gets a lot of credit for their skating ability, the Hurricanes always seem to have trouble when it comes to getting back into their own end to play defense and breaking up chances on the rush. It's been a problem since last season and they usually end up in bad situations as a result. Montreal took full advantage of this early on and were able to lean on Carey Price the rest of the way. Carolina ended up with the advantage in shots and scoring chances but couldn't solve Price (or the goal post) and ended up taking the loss.
Carolina may have deserved a better fate than shutout loss, but they were still playing from behind for 80% of the game and that's obviously not good.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Carolina didn't have a great game at even strength and Montreal was all over them during the first period. I said earlier that they weren't getting hemmed in much, but the Habs were beating them to rebounds while the Hurricanes struggled to challenge Price early on. Once the Habs took a 3-0 lead, Therrien Hockey was in full effects. The Habs went into a defensive shell, allowed Carolina to bring the play to them and had Price bail them out when a breakdown occurred. This is what they did against them on New Year's Eve and while it failed then, Price came up big this time and had some help from the goal post. This game was actually similar to the comeback on New Year's Eve with Montreal taking consecutive penalties and daring Carolina to get back into the game. They had a much better result this time around.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Alex Semin +2
Worst EV Forwards: Jordan Staal & Elias Lindholm -4
Best EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -6
Semin, Liles & Skinner had Carolina's best chances last night on the power play and were denied, which is unfortunate because these three along with Tlusty & Bowman had fairly good games offensively. The first line didn't do a lot at even strength, but they came very close to making an impact on the power play and hopefully this carries over to the next game. Skinner's line with Jordan Staal & Elias Lindholm had a rough game at even strength and did not look good at all on the Pacioretty goal, which put the game out of reach early in the second period.
Also having a rough game at evens was the Komisarek/Harrison defense pairing. These two have surprisingly been okay in some recent games but when they are bad, it's usually an ugly performance and many goals are going to be scored on these two when that happens. They got their wires crossed on the Prust goal and were destroyed by that line all night long. This is the risk you take playing them on the road on the same d-pair. All three defense pairings had errors on each of Montreal's goals, though.
Canadiens Individual Scoring Chances
Canadiens On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: David Desharnais +4
Worst EV Forwards: Brandon Prust, Rene Bourque, Travis Moen & Lars Eller -2
Best EV Defensemen: Alexei Emelin & Andrei Markov +4
Worst EV Defenseman: PK Subban -4
In a normal Montreal game, you are in good shape if you can contain PK Subban. The Hurricanes did that, but the Markov/Emelin pairing destroyed them and made up for Subban having an off-night. Markov jumping into the play was a key factor in the Pacioretty goal and he along with Emelin did a great job of shutting down the Hurricanes offense for most of the night. Murray/Beaulieu also had a solid performance at preventing chances, although they were both on the ice for a lot of Carolina shots.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Pacioretty, Desharnais & Gallagher was a line that crushed the Hurricanes last season and this game was no different. Jordan Staal's line could not contain them at all and they did a number on the Canes first defense pairing, as well. Liles was also caught on the ice for a goal against this line. Another player that always seems to do well against Carolina is Brandon Prust and while his overall numbers are a mixed bag, his line destroyed Harrison & Komisarek and scored the Habs opening goal.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
A great game by Eric Staal in the neutral zone went to waste and part of it has to do with his line not creating much offense off his entries. Although, thi scan be applied for the rest of the forwards, as Staal & Palushaj were the only players to have more than two unblocked shots off carry-ins. Speaking of which, Palushaj was impressive at times last night. I would like to see him get a few more games because he might be able to add something to the bottom-six.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Montreal had a three goal lead for 2/3 of the game, so they had no problem with dumping the puck in and making the Hurricanes travel 200 feet to start a comeback. This isn't a strategy I'm in favor of, but it worked last night thanks to Price. Gionta, Pacioretty and Bourque all had four or more controlled entries despite this, though.
5v5 Zone Exits
Carolina tried to activate their defense when they were playing from behind and it almost worked a few times. This is one of the things Liles does well and while it can lead to breakouts the other way, he is very effective at moving the puck up ice and jumping into the play. Hopefully he starts to see more results from it.
It's rare for Subban to have a game like this, but the rest of Montreal's defense was able to make up for him. Markov & Beaulieu were both very good at leading breakouts and even Doug Murray had a good game for his standards.