Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes stumbled in their 2014-15 regular-season opener, falling 5-3 to the New York Islanders at home. Nathan Gerbe (PP), Chris Terry and Eric Staal (PP) netted goals for the Canes, and Cam Ward made 21 saves.
-- The first 20 minutes of the 2014-15 season went south in a hurry. At one point, the Canes had a 6-1 shot advantage and were dictating the pace of play. Then Brad Malone was called for holding, and Jay Harrison took a high-sticking penalty. Johnny Boychuk scored on the five-on-three advantage, and Brock Nelson slid into the slot untouched to pot an even-strength goal as Harrison exited the box. What was a good start was quickly erased in just under two minutes due to unforced errors and defensive zone breakdowns.
"I didn’t mind our start," head coach Bill Peters said. "I thought we started on time, but then we took a couple penalties that put us behind the eight-ball.”
Otherwise, it was actually a rather ideal start to the season. Sure, the Canes would have liked to convert on their early man advantage, but taken as a whole, the Canes had a decided edge in play until the penalty kill faltered.
"You want to win the home opener. The crowd was amazing, so it was tough," Elias Lindholm said. "They had a good power play. We need to stay out of the box.”
"I liked our start. I thought the energy was good in the building, and the guys were on our toes," Staal said. "We were initiating, and we had some real good, quality chances. We didn’t capitalize and then obviously put ourselves in a hole on the five-on-three.”
-- The penalty kill didn’t fare much better in the second period. Boychuk’s point shot deflected in off Nelson’s knee to give New York a commanding 3-0 lead.
-- Special teams got the Canes on the board in the third period, as Justin Faulk’s point shot bounced in – just barely – off of Gerbe’s skate on the power play. That would make the score 3-1, and that's as close as the Canes would get until Staal went high cheese on the man advantage (equaling his power-play output from last season already) with just 1:34 left in regulation to make it a 5-3 game.
"We built it back up in the third, and we have to follow it up tomorrow," Staal said.
-- Victor Rask and Patrick Brown did not look like two kids making their NHL debuts – and that’s a good thing. Each had a prime scoring opportunity: in the first period, Rask punched a loose puck wide from the slot on the power play, and in the second period, Jaroslav Halak made a glove save on a Brown shot from atop the circles.
"I had a lot of excitement going in, and I had a lot of fun tonight," Rask said.
-- The sold-out PNC Arena crowd was hype from the start. The players were introduced one-by-one from the Olympia entrance, and they gathered around the center-ice logo. The Caniacs brought the noise tonight, and it was good to hear again. Hockey is back, indeed.
-- The Canes will now travel to Long Island for a rematch with these same Islanders less than 24 hours from now.
"Now we’re into the season, and we’ll try to move on and give them a good fight tomorrow," Lindholm said.
"It obviously wasn’t enough, and we’ll have to respond tomorrow," Staal said. “You’ve got to respond. Now it’s our chance in their building to ruin their home opener.”