Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- Considering an ideal game plan, the Carolina Hurricanes ticked nearly every box of such a concept on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks – except win. Despite their efforts, in a back-to-back scenario no less, they fell by the razor thin margin of 2-0 to San Jose, with netminder Troy Grosenick posting a 45-save shutout in his first career NHL start.
"We had some chances to put some behind him, and we didn’t," Eric Staal said. "The kid played good, and they did a good job of blocking some shots. Overall, we were the better team. We dictated most of the night and just didn’t get the job done.”
-- The Canes did everything but score – really, everything. They threw 45 shots at rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick who looked more like a seasoned veteran netminder than a 25-year-old making his first career NHL start.
"He played well in his first-career start. Shutout on the road. Good for him. ... He did his job," Peters said. "We probably need to make it harder on goaltenders, not only tonight but most nights. Somebody in the blue paint, somebody in the goaltender's eyes."
The Canes dominated virtually all aspects of the game, especially at five-on-five where the team logged an exorbitant amount of offensive zone time. Both teams played on Saturday, but the Canes were the more rested of the two and looked the part, as the Sharks battled Columbus in a 7 p.m. faceoff.
But, they never found their way past Grosenick, who was sharp as a tack at times. In the first period, he denied Victor Rask twice on point-blank chances in the slot. In the second, he turned away a Zach Boychuk opportunity off a cross-ice feed from Jiri Tlusty. He then shut the door on Rask and Jeff Skinner late in the middle frame to preserve a one-goal lead for his team heading into the intermission. In the third, he fended off a late surge from the Canes to hold on for the victory.
"We were generating a lot in their end," Staal said. "We were cycling, ... on the attack, hanging onto pucks, making right plays. Just tonight, for whatever reason, we weren’t able to get it by him."
-- Similar to late in the first period on Saturday in Boston, the Canes were dictating the pace of play early against the Sharks, the only difference being they didn’t have a 1-0 lead. San Jose dented the scoreboard with just 1:14 to play in the first period, as Tomas Hertl poked one past Anton Khudobin.
"We’re not going to outscore our mistakes," Peters said. "We’ve got to tighten up and not give away freebies.”
So, despite having a commanding 16-6 lead in shots, the Canes trailed by a goal after 20 minutes, another cruel twist of fate dealt to the team in the last pair of games.
"There’s lots of hockey left. You need to score to win. You need a goal at some point to win a hockey game, and you’ve got 40 minutes left to try and generate a goal or more than one goal and stay with it," Peters said of the message after a period. "What would you change? I don’t think you’d change a whole bunch.”
"We tried not to let it [frustrate us]. It starts to as it goes on, but I thought we did a good job of staying with it and staying with the game we were playing," Staal said. "When we had a tough break the other way, Dobber was good. We did everything but score, and that's tough."
Carolina didn’t surrender much in the way of offensive opportunity after that, either. The Sharks recorded just 19 shots on goal, never putting more than 10 pucks on Khudobin in a period.
"Guys played really, really well," Khudobin said, having started his first game at home this season. "The other goalie was on fire today, and it was his first NHL game which probably pumped him up even more. He did a hell of a job, and we couldn’t score.”
-- Though they fired a season-high 45 shots on net, Peters said the quality of chances could have been better.
"I think we need more traffic and more bodies in and toward the paint," he said. "We had some scoring chances and good looks, probably not as many grade-A chances that you’d like out of a 40-plus shot evening, but we have to make the ones we do have count.
"Our last two starts have been good. We played hard. I don’t think there’s a problem there," he continued. "We have to find a way to score and have more finish, maybe a greasy one, a deflection or something."
-- On another note, the Hurricanes honored Sgt. Mike Cathcart with a moment of silence prior to the Star Spangled Banner. Sgt. Cathcart, who practiced with the Canes at Ft. Bragg in February, died as a result of injuries sustained in combat on Friday.
It was a humbling honor to have met and told Sgt. Cathcart’s story earlier this year, and we are all forever grateful for his sacrifices.
"That's one of my better memories from my time here," said Jeff Skinner, who skated on a line with Sgt. Cathcart in practice that day. "We're obviously thinking of him."
-- On Monday, the Hurricanes will embark on a five-game road trip that will take them through Dallas, Los Angeles, Colorado, South Florida and Pittsburgh.
"We have to contribute with some offense," Staal said. "Tonight it felt like it was everything but the goals, and that can be frustrating."
"We just have to do our job and try to score," Khudobin said. "It didn't happen today."