Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- In what was indicative of the first four games of the season series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, this tight-checking match took overtime to decide. The Blue Jackets emerged victorious, scoring on a four-on-three power play to win 3-2. Jeff Skinner and Andrei Loktionov tallied for the Hurricanes, who dropped the five-game season series between the two new divisional rivals. “That was tough because it was a big game,” Muller said. “I thought we played really well. It was a playoff-style game with not much space out there. We got key goals at the right times, but unfortunately three mistakes that we made cost us.”
-- This game typified the season series between the two teams: closely-contested, tight-checking and down to the wire. It’s been a fun set of five games and could be the beginning of a beautiful rivalry. “It was a good game. It was a tight-checking game like we thought [it would be]. It was back and forth; they made pushes and we made pushes, and it was unfortunate we came up short at the end there,” Jordan Staal said. “We can find a way to win those games.”
-- Loktionov continues to impress and continues to earn an elevated role. He logged 19:50 of ice time, including just over two minutes on the power play. His man-advantage tally – a simple step-up-and-shoot play – gave the Canes a brief 2-1 lead in the third period. “[Muller] trusts me. He puts me on the power play, and my job is to just prove to him that I can play there,” Loktionov said. “Before the last two years, I used to play on that spot (half-wall), and I feel comfortable there.”
-- Muller on Loktionov, who now has six points (3g, 3a) in his last six games and an active three-game point streak: “The stats prove it. He’s the half-wall guy we were looking for that could control it and make plays. He’s scoring, as well. Overall he’s done a great job. Five-on-five, his play defensively, all-around, what he brings to the special teams – he’s been a great addition, and he’s earning it. He’s come in here and played well right from the start.”
-- Though Carolina did not score, they were the decidedly better team in the early going tonight. Play evened out as the first period progressed, but it’s a positive sign seeing that, for the second game in a row after a dismal start at home against the Islanders, the Canes have started the game on time.
-- A loss such as this one early in the season could easily be shrugged off; the Canes played well and they got a point out of it. But with just eight games remaining in the regular season, this one and the ones before it accentuate the sting. “There’s definitely been some frustrating times for our team,” J. Staal said. “It’s kind of been the story of our team – finding ways to lose games. It’s the leadership in the room – myself and guys all throughout – that needs to find ways to win games.”
-- E. Staal on the frustration level in the Canes room: “I think it’s past frustrating right now. We seem to just find ways to lose. We need to find ways to win, whether it be a bounce, whether it be a quick breakdown, whether it be a battle. It just seems like the chance we have doesn’t seem to want to fall, and the chance that goes the other way goes in. It’s difficult.”
-- The Canes will practice on Sunday before embarking on a brief back-to-back road swing that will take the team through Ottawa and Pittsburgh. Until mathematics deems the team is no longer vying for a playoff spot, the Canes are approaching each game no different than the one before it. “We don’t think we’re out yet. We picked up a point, and mathematically it’s there. So we’re going to push,” Muller said. We’re going to get ready for Ottawa and have the same approach: go out, go on the road and win some hockey games.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ryan Johansen scored a power-play goal at 2:40 of overtime, and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 Saturday night at PNC Arena.
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk was in the box for delay of game after smothering the puck when Johansen fired a wrister from the slot past Anton Khudobin for his 30th of the season. It was the only power play of the game for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus (38-30-6) remains in the first wild-card position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference with 82 points.
Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney turned in a 25-save performance in his second straight start. Starter Sergei Bobrovsky has missed the past two games with an illness.
The Blue Jackets held an 11-7 advantage in shots in a slow-moving first period. Columbus had the best scoring chance of the period on when Mark Letestu fed Blake Comeau on a 2-on-1, but Khudobin came across the crease to block Comeau's redirect with his arm.
After more than 36 minutes of scoreless hockey, Carolina finally broke through with Jeff Skinner's 29th goal at 16:29 of the second period. Skinner launched a shot off a pass from Riley Nash, then grabbed his own rebound and beat McElhinney.
The Blue Jackets tied the game 2:17 later after a Skinner turnover. From the boards in the Carolina defensive zone, Skinner sent a pass to the slot; Matt Calvert picked it off and quickly fired a shot under the crossbar for the tying goal.
Carolina had the better scoring chances in the second period. Jiri Tlusty took a pass across the crease from John-Michael Liles, but he pushed a shot wide of an open net. Moments later, Jordan Staal tried to poke one past McElhinney from the top of the crease, but McElhinney's poke check thwarted the chance.
Neither team drew a penalty through the first 40 minutes.
Andrei Loktionov gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal at 6:38 of the third period. He took a pass from Nash in the right circle and scored on a shot to the far post. The Blue Jackets tied it 50 seconds later on Artem Anisimov's 20th of the season. Khudobin mishandled Nathan Horton's shot, and Anisimov fired home the rebound.