Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes saw their three-game home winning streak come to an end on Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. It’s a loss that stings in a number of ways, considering the fact that the Jets scored the game-winning goal with just over a minute left to play in regulation and because the Canes felt like they had a lot of good elements in their game tonight but couldn’t come up with any points. “It was a good hockey game. Both teams played well. We did everything that we [wanted] to do, as far as the game plan,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “We didn’t give up much. Two mistakes cost us two goals tonight, but overall, I thought our guys played hard, competed, skated and did a lot of good things. It just wasn’t the outcome we wanted.”
-- There were some missed opportunities the Canes would certainly like to have back. In the first period, Alexander Semin fed Jiri Tlusty with a beautiful goalmouth feed, and Tlusty put it high over the net. In the second period, the Canes had 52 seconds of five-on-three time, but John-Michael Liles rang a point shot off the post in their best scoring chance. “Five-on-three wise, I thought we executed really well. All the chances and opportunities were there. We just didn’t score,” Muller said. “Their goalie made some nice saves, and we hit a post. That would have been a great time to score.”
-- Pavelec was also spitting out a fair amount of rebounds, especially in the second period when the Canes seemed to gain their legs and start to swing the momentum. “There were ample opportunities to put one by him, and we just weren’t able to tonight,” Eric Staal said. “We stayed with it, stayed aggressive, continued to shoot pucks and get to the net, but you want to finish on the opportunities you get.”
-- The first period was a bit choppy and disorganized at times, but the Canes were able to settle into their game in the second period, dominating at times, as Staal said. “They’re a big team. They came out and had some tempo to their first period. I don’t think we managed the puck as well as we wanted, so it was kind of coming back at us. I thought as the game went on, we started to do a better job of that,” Muller said. “I thought we had a lot of offensive zone time in the second and third period. We really didn’t give up much.”
-- Riley Nash scored the Canes’ lone goal, and it came when the team was in a one-goal hole in the third period. It was a broken play with Bowman dangling in the slot, and Nash was able to pick up the loose puck and fire it past Ondrej Pavelec for his seventh of the season.
-- Staal was not pleased with the officiating crew as the Canes were looking for a late-game comeback in the final minute of the game. After winning a faceoff, Staal received a vicious cross check from Bryan Little. The officials nabbed Little for the appropriate penalty but sent Staal, the Canes leader in points, to the box for slashing – for some reason. A visibly peeved Staal after the game: “I won the faceoff and got cross-checked from behind. That’s pretty much it.”
-- Some random notes: Winnipeg has now claimed victory in each of the last four meetings between the two clubs in Raleigh, and the road team has won 17 of the last 23 meetings. The season series wraps up north of the border on March 22. … Bowman’s primary assist on Nash’s goal was his seventh of the season, tying a career high. … Carolina held a slight shot advantage in the game, as the final tally favored the home team, 29-27. The Canes are now 16-11-1 when outshooting their opponent.
-- The Hurricanes’ four-game homestand leading into the Olympic break continues on Friday when the team hosts Florida. A Saturday evening faceoff against Montreal will wrap up the pre-Olympic schedule, and the Canes are aware of the enormity of the two remaining games. “The key is to regroup and get fresh tomorrow. Get back with two good practices and then finish strong. We have two more home games, and two more opportunities to pick up some real crucial points,” Staal said. “Obviously a tough pill tonight, but it’s not going to help hanging our head on it. We need to refocus and get back on the horse because these are two big games before the break.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Chris Thorburn knocked home a loose puck in front of the net with 1:03 remaining in regulation to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba carried the puck around the net to set up the game-winner for the Jets, who have won three in a row. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 28 shots for his 18th win of the season.
The Jets (28-25-5) improved to 9-2-0 since former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice took over behind the bench after Claude Noel was fired on Jan. 12.
With Winnipeg clinging to a 1-0 lead after two periods, Riley Nash pulled the Hurricanes even at 2:42 of the third. The Jets tied up Drayson Bowman's shot attempt from the slot, but the puck squirted free to Nash, who buried a quick shot past Pavelec for his seventh of the season.
The teams traded quality scoring chances in the first period. Carolina forward Nathan Gerbe had an early opportunity but lifted his shot off the crossbar. Brian Little had the best chance for Winnipeg when he took a pass above the crease from Trouba only to be stopped by Anton Khudobin moving right to left. The Hurricanes had the only power play of the period but did not register a shot.
Khudobin finished with 25 saves for the Hurricanes (25-21-9), who remained three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.