Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes fell 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens in the team’s final game before breaking for the Olympics, certainly not the ideal scenario before heading into an extended layoff. “Obviously we wanted to come in here and get those two points before we left. It’s a tight race as it is,” said U.S. Olympian Justin Faulk. “I don’t think we had the effort or the drive that we needed to get the two points tonight. In a game like that, especially before the break, we needed to leave it all out there. But it didn’t go our way, and we didn’t get it done.”
-- For a period and a half, it seemed like the Canes, leading 1-0, had a pretty good handle on the game. Then, the Habs struck twice in the last 2:08 of the middle frame to take a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. “It’s disappointing because in the first period we came out, after playing last night, and played a smart first period. We felt like we weren’t giving them anything,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It continued into the second, but we made a couple breakdowns, and they capitalized. That was the difference.”
-- Drayson Bowman scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes, his fourth tally of the season, at the 5:42 mark of the second period. Faulk made a good keep at the blue line, and then Riley Nash fed Bowman at the top of the near circle. Bowman picked the corner, as Tuomo Ruutu provided the screen in front of Carey Price. “It’s a tough one, like before Christmas break,” Ruutu said, referencing the Canes 4-3 loss to Columbus on Dec. 23. “I thought we were playing all right, and we had the one-goal lead, but something was missing. They scored four goals in our own building. It was too much.”
-- The fourth line was the Canes’ best line tonight, and they’ve been rolling along for the past week now. Nash, who had the primary assist on Bowman’s tally, has points (2g, 1a) in three straight games, a career high. “They’re working hard, and they’ve been playing well defensively,” Muller said. “They’re creating a lot of chances, and when they do, they’re actually capitalizing on it. They’re getting some good production.”
-- That said, there wasn’t much happening offensively elsewhere. In the third period, what were arguably the Canes’ two best scoring chances came from the fourth line: Andrei Markov made a good defensive play on Nash to deny him what looked to be a pretty open net with Price scrambling, and Price, a Canadian Olympian, robbed Bowman with a glove save to preserve his team’s 3-1 lead. “Our fourth line was our best line tonight,” Muller said. “We had some guys that played really well and played hard, but we didn’t have everybody on board. That doesn’t cut it in this league. It was disappointing.”
-- The Hurricanes will now be off until Thursday, Feb. 20 when they return for five straight scheduled days of practice before taking on Buffalo in a rescheduled match on Feb. 25. That will kick off a season-long five-game road swing that will take the team then to Dallas and California. “We’ve got to get off to a good start right away,” Faulk said. “We’ve got a big road trip to start off the last quarter of the year, and we need a hot start.”
-- Muller on what’s on tap for the next two-and-a-half weeks: “We’re going to have a real tough [schedule] right after. They need to get a real good mental and physical break for 4 or 5 days, but there’s time there after that to get back to working out. I’m sure some of those guys will only probably take a day off and continue to train,” he said. “We’ll have a few less practice days than other teams, as soon as we get here, the better shape they come in and ready to go, the quicker we can work on the X’s and O’s of the game and get us prepared to go into Buffalo.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- David Desharnais scored twice and Carey Price stopped 31 shots to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Saturday.
The win was the third straight for the Canadiens (32-21-6), who lost leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty in the first period.
Pacioretty, who is slated to represent the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, left the game with 7:30 remaining in the first period after being checked into the goal post. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore hit Pacioretty as he tried to cut from the goal line to the front of the net.
The 25-year-old forward appeared to hit his leg and forearm on the post. He immediately grabbed his arm and remained face-down on the ice for a couple minutes before slowly making his way to the dressing room under his own power.
The Canadiens announced in the second period that Pacioretty sustained a lower-body injury, and he did not return. He has 26 goals and 37 points in 50 games.
Carolina struck first at 5:42 of the second period when Drayson Bowman one-timed a shot from above the right circle past Price.
Montreal countered with two goals 85 seconds apart to take the lead. Desharnais drove to the net before starting a give-and-go with Rene Borque, who found Desharnais on the back door at 17:52.
In the final minute of the period, Ryan White pounced on a rebound in front of the net after Andrei Markov's shot from above the circle was stopped by Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin.
Desharnais extended the lead to 3-1 at 6:15 of the third period. Brendan Gallagher skated up the left wing and feathered a pass to Desharnais, who beat Khudobin over the glove. Gallagher finished with two assists.
Brian Gionta finished the scoring with a wraparound goal into an empty net with 2:17 remaining.
Price was sharp throughout. With 7:32 remaining in regulation, he stopped Bowman with the glove on a point-blank shot from the slot. Two minutes later, Price came across the crease to rob Bowman on a wrist shot.
Khudobin stopped 20 of 23 shots in the loss.