Tracking the Storm: Analysis from Los Angeles
-- A back-and-forth contest didn’t end in the Carolina Hurricanes’ favor, who fell 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings. The two teams traded goals through the first two periods – the Kings scoring first and the Canes answering each time – until Los Angeles got the game-winner: Tanner Pearson’s bat-in on the doorstep, just 38 seconds after Eric Staal tied the game at two. The teams split the season series after the Canes got the better of the Kings in Raleigh just over two weeks ago.
"They started better than we did," head coach Bill Peters said. "I didn't think we were as good in the beginning of the game. They were able to build a lead, and they played well to protect it in the third."
"They did a good job in the first two periods of getting on the forecheck and really making it difficult for us to get out of our end," Eric Staal said. "It was a close game, but just not quite enough."
-- The difference in tonight’s game was the Kings’ ability to win battles in front of the net; all three of their goals were scored in the slot as they powered their way toward the net.
"They were real strong, using their size and strength down low to take pucks to the net," Staal said. "They were rewarded with a few goals that way."
Jarret Stoll netted the first goal, as he slipped into the slot to finish a pass from Dustin Brown. 37 seconds into the second period, Trevor Lewis scored on a mad scramble in front, out-muscling the defense to get a skate and, subsequently, his stick on the puck to poke it in. It was a close play, one that was reviewed, but the replays appeared to show Lewis kicking the puck and it getting a piece of his stick on the way through; that’s what the NHL saw too, and it was ruled a good goal. Tanner Pearson scored the Kings’ third goal, the game-winner, as he skated into the slot and batted a rebound out of mid-air.
"We had a hard time handling their size and strength on the walls. They wore us out in the D zone," Peters said. "They were a big, heavy team in the offensive zone, and we spent too much time in there tonight."
"They're a good, heavy forechecking team. We spent too much time in our end, and we want to try to move it up and get in their end," Jeff Skinner said. "At the same time, we have to be able to sustain some pressure, and that will alleviate some of the pressure they create in our end. Just getting some more offensive zone time would have been better early in the game."
-- Jeff Skinner continues to do goal-scorer things. Late in what was a largely uneventful first period for the visitors, Skinner skated in along the near wing and snapped one far stick-side past Jonathan Quick. Though his goal tonight didn’t lead to four more in a row as it did in Dallas on Tuesday, it came at a time when the Canes needed something from someone -- and he's just the player to deliver.
-- Eric Staal recorded his 700th career NHL point in the second period, as he deposited a rebound on the power play. It was his sixth goal of the season, the second on the power play, and his third in two games.
-- Cam Ward was sharp again in net and saw a lot of rubber, as he made 36 saves and gave his team a chance to stay in this one. Tonight was Ward's first regulation loss against the Kings in six career appearances.
"He's done that all year. No surprise there," Peters said of Ward's strong performance. "He's been very good and very consistent."
"He was huge," Skinner said. "It's too bad we can't reward him with something more."
-- The Hurricanes had three first-period power plays and recorded just one shot in that six minutes of man advantage time. Though they would finally convert on a power play in the second period, connecting or even generating more on the trio of power plays in the first could have helped jump start a team that had just five shots in the first 20 minutes.
"A little more pace by us on the breakouts and entries, and a little better execution, obviously," Peters said when asked about what he would have liked to see differently. "We only generated one shot and not a serious scoring chance out of the three opportunities."
"They were real aggressive and quick, and we knew that going in," Staal said of their penalty kill. "We just needed to do a better job of moving the puck around. Credit them -- they were aggressive, in your face and fast."
"They're aggressive, but we knew that," Skinner echoed. "We could have done a better job of executing and being faster."
-- The Hurricanes’ three-game swing out West continues on Saturday in Denver, as the Canes take on the Colorado Avalanche.