Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes knew they had a good challenge in front of them when they hosted the Colorado Avalanche, winners of 14 of 16 and undefeated on the road. The Canes were certainly up to that challenge, as they held on for a 2-1 victory, backstopped by Justin Peters’ 33 saves and the offensive contributions of the second line. “It was going to have to take everybody to play a complete game in order to beat that club, and I thought everyone was up to the task,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “They played hard, and I think we earned the win tonight.”
-- In a way, tonight’s win was a statement of sorts, as the Canes were able to slow down and grind out a one-goal decision over arguably the hottest team in the NHL. It’s a testament to where the team game is at this point in the season, and it may be even more impressive that they’re doing it without a number of key players. “We were up to the challenge,” Ron Hainsey said. “It was a really good game.”
-- Peters has now gone without a regulation loss in four consecutive games, a new career-high for the 27-year-old goaltender. In that stretch, he’s stopped 110 of 114 shots faced (.965 save percentage). As is the case, a humble Peters credited the defense for steering clear the rebounds he left out in the open. “They were coming fast, and they were coming hard,” he said. “We had the D cleaning up rebounds, and the forwards were right back in the house helping out too.”
-- Muller on Peters’ progression in his nine games played since Cam Ward went down with an injury: “I think a lot of people are happy for him because he’s a great team guy and he works hard,” he said. “He’s turned the corner and showing that he can win now. That’s all from a real hard compete level, and I think the players really want to play for him because he’s such a good guy. I think everyone is really happy to see him progress and find ways to win hockey games.”
-- The play of the Canes’ second line of Nathan Gerbe, Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer was noticeable at both ends of the ice. The line was involved in both scoring plays for the Canes, as each player recorded two points; Gerbe had two assists, and Staal and Dwyer each had a goal and an assist. Additionally, they did so while checking Colorado’s top line of Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene and PA Parenteau, who combined for 23 goals entering tonight’s match. “They checked a very good line and came out on top,” Muller said. “When you get a contribution from a line like that that is shutting a very potent offensive line down and then can contribute offensively, that’s usually a pretty good sign in favor of the result at the end of the night. That was probably Jordan’s best game of the year for us.”
-- Dwyer, simply, on how the Canes combated Colorado’s speed, especially on that top line: “The best way to play against speed like that is to have the puck.”
-- Puck possession starts with winning faceoffs. For the sixth straight game, the Canes had the edge in the faceoff circle. It’s no coincidence that Manny Malhotra played in those six games. Tonight, Malhotra was 15-for-20 (75 percent) in the dot, tying his performance in his first game with the Canes on Nov. 1. “It’s so huge. To win faceoffs like that, you get puck possession, especially against a skilled team that wants the puck,” Muller said. “It’s like a football team running the ball and killing the clock. They have ball possession, and for hockey, if you can win draws, you start every shift with the puck, and it’s so huge.”
-- Defensively, the Canes had to weather a storm in the last half of the second period, as the Avalanche collected momentum with a power play goal and earned another man advantage late in the period. The kill to preserve their 2-1 lead heading into the final period might have been the turning point. “They obviously had a big, big spurt … in the last 7-8 minutes of the second period,” Hainsey said. “Getting the lead and keeping that lead was critical.”
-- The Canes have now collected seven of a possible eight points (3-0-1) in their last four games. They’ll wrap up their season-long, five-game homestand on Friday when they host the Anaheim Ducks, another top team in the Western Conference. But if tonight is any indication, the Canes have shown they can play with the best the league has to offer – and win.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer staked their team to a 2-0 lead, and goaltender Justin Peters made it stand up in a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.
Peters made numerous impressive saves among the 33 shots he stopped, earning his third win in four games. The Hurricanes (7-7-4) have seven points in the past four games. Colorado (14-3-0) lost on the road for the first time this season (seven games).
Carolina linemates Staal, Dwyer and Nathan Gerbe each had two points.
The Hurricanes started the scoring with Jordan Staal's third goal of the season. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped Gerbe from close range but kicked out the rebound to Staal, who shoveled a backhander into the net at 12:47. Dwyer earned an assist with a strong forecheck.
Colorado was outshot 11-5 in the first period, but the Avalanche did generate a few quality chances. Early in the period, Ryan O'Reilly's backhander hit the post, then PA Parenteau charged down the slot, only to be stopped by Peters. The goaltender also came up big against Paul Stastny on a goal-mouth scramble in the final minutes of a penalty-free period.
Carolina needed 26 seconds in the second period to strike again. Gerbe collected a puck along the left-wing boards and sent a pass to Dwyer in the slot for his first of the season.
The Avalanche got on the board shortly after the first minor penalty of the game. With Hurricanes forward Radek Dvorak off for hooking, Stastny tapped in a loose puck that came to rest on the goal line at 14:34, following Nathan MacKinnon's shot from the slot.
Colorado pressed for more offense when Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera took a holding penalty. The power-play unit buzzed the net for most of the two minutes; the Hurricanes managed one clear. Peters saved his best for the final second of the penalty kill, robbing MacKinnon on the doorstep. Colorado had a 24-23 advantage in shots through two periods.
Dvorak left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury and did not return.