Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- If there was ever a way to ring in the New Year, this was it. Down 3-0 heading into the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes scored four goals in seven minutes to take a 4-3 lead and ultimately win the game 5-4 in overtime. Eric Staal (1g, 2a) and Jeff Skinner (2g, 1a) each had three-point nights, and Alexander Semin potted the game-winning goal. “We needed a win. We wanted two points however we got it,” Staal said. “We’ve been doing a lot of talking here for the last few games, trying to dig ourselves out of this hole. Sometimes you need a gutsy effort to turn it around. We hope we can build on that.”
-- After a flat first period and a penalty-laden 40 minutes, the Canes were in a three-goal hole. Despite leading 25-16 in shots, the team was having no success on the power play and couldn’t solve Carey Price. The Canes had two options coming out for the third period. “It’s a tribute to our players and the leaders, but at the end of the second we just said, ‘Hey guys, there are two things we can do. We can just play this out, or we can just go for it. This could be the period that turns the season around or we just finish the way it is,’” Muller said. “They stayed with it, played hard and found a way to win a hockey game.”
-- Manny Malhotra, who scored his second goal of the season to make the score 4-3 Hurricanes off a beauty of a pass from Zach Boychuk, said this of the second intermission: “We had a decision to make: either let this one slip away and try to regroup for the next game, or play through it and stay with our game plan. It was nice to see that we were rewarded for doing the right things and sticking to it.”
-- More Muller on the outset of the game, and then what changed: “For whatever reason, we just looked uptight,” he said. “We all felt there was something left in the tank. We just said, ‘Go for it guys. Have fun. It’s a hockey game. Go play.’ And they did.”
-- Sticking with the game plan has been a mantra of the team, especially through a tough stretch like the recent five-game winless streak. Solving Price, who could end up as Team Canada’s starting goaltender in the upcoming Olympics, was no easy task. “He looked real good. He was seeing pucks even through some of the screens we had, making some real solid saves,” Staal said of Price, who had a 26-save shutout through 40 minutes. “I thought our momentum carried, especially in the third period. It was just a matter of time. When this building gets excited and energized, it’s a lot of fun to play for them. Your energy, tempo and pace picks up. You can feel that, and you feed off of it.”
-- Skinner on the energy in the building in the third period: “It was definitely loud out there in the third. It was fun,” he said. “We stuck with it for the whole game, and it paid off for us tonight.”
-- Speaking of Skinner, how great of a December did he have? He scored 12 of his 16 team-leading goals in the month, the most prolific month of his young career. Including tonight, Skinner posted four multi-goal games in that same stretch, and both of his goals tonight were scored on the Canes’ otherwise lack-luster power play. “He’s a game-breaker and a goal-scorer, and he can make the difference quickly like that,” Muller said.
-- There were 34 minutes of penalties in this 63-minute, 27-second hockey game, and that’s all that will be said about that subject. Here is what Muller said, very diplomatically: “Tonight was a real emotional game. Wow, a lot of real crazy things happened tonight.”
-- The Canes’ win tonight was their first since Dec. 14, and it might ultimately become, for lack of a better term, a turning point for the team. Said Muller, simply: “That’s a huge win to build some momentum going into the New Year.” Indeed. Happy New Year, all.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin scored on a snap shot from the left faceoff circle with 1:33 remaining in overtime to cap a dramatic 5-4 comeback win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
The Canadiens seemed to be on their way to an easy win, leading 3-0 after two periods, but Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner scored a pair of power-play goals 37 seconds apart before setting up Eric Staal for the tying goal less than two minutes later.
Manny Malhotra scored at 8:16 to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead, but P.K. Subban answered two minutes later to even the score at 4-4.
The Hurricanes killed off a double minor for boarding against Staal at the end of the third period and early in overtime before Semin's game-winner.
Skinner put the Hurricanes on the board at 1:38 with a nice move in the left faceoff circle to beat Canadiens goalie Carey Price to the far post; he scored again from the right circle at 2:15.
When Staal finished on a loose puck in front at 4:07, it completed a three-goal comeback in a span of 2:29.
Until the wild third period, Montreal had controlled the game, despite killing 10:14 of Carolina power-play time through two periods.
Lars Eller's ninth goal of the season put the Canadiens on the board 1:20 into the game. Alex Galchenyuk forced a turnover behind the net then pushed a pass to Eller, who slipped the puck past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward on the backhand.
Pacioretty made it 2-0 at 7:46 when he redirected a pass from David Desharnais from the right circle. The goal came on an abbreviated power play after the teams had skated 4-on-4 for 1:20.
Montreal didn't show much discipline in the first 20 minutes, taking four minor penalties. Price was sharp though, especially during a 37-second sequence of 5-on-3 when he stopped scoring bids by Semin and Jordan Staal.
The penalty-box traffic continued in the second period for Montreal. A bench minor for too many men on the ice quickly followed a slashing penalty by Galchenyuk, leaving Carolina with 1:45 of a two-man advantage. But Montreal was equal to the task, blocking shots and keeping the Hurricanes away from the crease.
Pacioretty's second goal of the night at 14:24 pushed the Montreal lead to 3-0.
Desharnais earned his second assist of the night by winning the faceoff, and Subban stickhandled from the left point to the goal line before laying a backhand pass to Pacioretty at the top of the crease.
Hurricanes forward Riley Nash left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Carolina outshot Montreal 42-25, including by 30-12 over the final two periods.