Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- Persistence finally paid off for the Carolina Hurricanes, and it did so in a big way. Facing defeat in the final minute of the game, Jordan Staal tallied the equalizer with 53 seconds left and Manny Malhotra potted the game-winner on a breakaway in overtime to secure two points and bust the Canes’ five-game losing skid. “We came into tonight’s game, we simplified, we stayed with the program and we did it for three periods,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Everyone contributed to the win and stayed with the program.”
-- As far as feel-good stories in sports go, Malhotra’s road back to the NHL is certainly one of them, and he capped it off in fantastic fashion tonight. In the extra period, he separated Mark Streit from the puck at the Canes blue line. Hainsey picked up the loose biscuit and fed it to Malhotra, who raced off past center ice. A simple move to the backhand, and he beat Steve Mason low to the blocker side. But after the game, he was humble. “More importantly, we’re happy with the win right now,” he said. “Like with everything in life, it’s a matter of confidence. Sometimes we don’t get the bounces, and we can’t allow that to affect our psyche. Today was a prime example. We had a game plan, and we really stuck to it.”
-- Aside from the big overtime game-winner, Malhotra was a plus-2 with two shots and three hits. He was 14-for-22 (64 percent) in the faceoff dot, and he posted 15:47 of ice time. Muller paired Malhotra with Jiri Tlusty in the four-on-four session to give the Canes a varied and balanced look. “I didn’t know he was going to get a breakaway and capitalize like that,” Muller quipped. “It was great for him.”
-- More Malhotra, because why not? “Morale is key,” he said. “We really focused on staying committed to our process. They scored a late one. We didn’t give it up and pack it in. The guys did a great job of getting us tied up late in the game, and that persistence paid off.”
-- In the first period, Nathan Gerbe put a gorgeous sauce pass on Jordan Staal’s stick. Staal one-timed it, and Mason sprawled over to make the blocker save. It’s one that could have been replayed over and over in the Canes’ heads had they not tied the game late. But Staal got another chance. Jiri Tlusty fed the puck around the boards to Eric Staal, who walked with it behind the net and found his brother open in the slot. Jordan buried the one-timer, which he called a “special moment” – the first Eric-to-Jordan scoring play with the Canes. “It definitely shows the character and leadership in this room that we can keep battling through some tough times,” Jordan said. “It was nice to see us bounce back after the big goal that Philly scored.”
-- Muller on Staal: “You see Jordan with a big goal, so he’ll probably feel the monkey of his back. All of a sudden, who knows, he might get on a roll. It’s the way it works,” he said. “That’s what he needs to do – use that big body and get in that area. That’s where he needs to score goals.”
-- Justin Peters earned first-star honors, as he made 28 saves en route to his first victory of the season. It was a well-earned win for the 27-year-old, who had dropped four straight starts despite playing well in at least three of them. “We’ve come a long way, and we’ve been through a lot here,” he said. “That’s a small little marker for us tonight to get rewarded for the work we’ve done, and we’re going to enjoy it here.”
-- Muller on Peters: “He did his job tonight. He made the saves at the right time, and hey, he found a way to win the hockey game tonight, and that’s what we needed.”
-- After seeing four power plays, including a five-on-three chance late in the second period that carried over into the third, go by the wayside, to have Philadelphia score a dagger to break the scoreless tie on the power play late in the third period could have crippled a reeling Hurricanes team. But, as has been the case, they stayed persistent. Maybe, just maybe, this is the bounce they need to get on a roll. “The resistance that this team has been through and the adversity we’ve faced, to get scored on late and for our bench to stay up at the next drop of the puck, we were right back on them, right where we were before they scored,” Peters said. “There was no quit in this team right to the end. It’s a 60-minute game for a reason.”
-- Finally, a simple quote from Peters that sums up the night in six short, poignant words: “That was a lot of fun.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Manny Malhotra scored on the backhand with 2:20 remaining in overtime to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell's power-play tip from the slot with 3:58 remaining in the third period broke a scoreless tie, but Jordan Staal tied it with less than a minute remaining on a centering pass from Eric Staal.
Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason stopped 36 shots, and Justin Peters made 28 saves for the Hurricanes.
The Flyers started slowly in the first period, needing more than eight minutes to register their first shot. That drought included 1:55 of power play time after Alexander Semin was called for hooking. But Philadelphia found its stride, including a prime shorthanded scoring chance when Sean Couturier missed an open net on a two-on-one.
The Hurricanes quickly answered with a two-on-one of their own, but Mason moved right to left to rob Jordan Staal with the blocker. Philadelphia held a 13-10 advantage in shots after 20 minutes.
The Hurricanes had a two-man advantage for 1:02 at end of the second period and start of the third, as Michael Raffl was whistled for holding and Couturier was sent off for holding, but Carolina was unable to capitalize.
Both teams came into the game hard-pressed for offense. The Flyers were 29th in the NHL in goals per game at 1.62, while the Hurricanes were connecting for 1.93, good for 26th.
The Hurricanes activated forward Radek Dvorak from the injured reserve Tuesday. The right wing had missed three games with a lower-body injury.