Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- The Carolina Hurricanes fell just short of erasing a two-goal deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks, dropping a 3-1 decision on Monday night at PNC Arena.
"I just thought we gave them too much respect early in the game and didn’t make any passes until the second period. Once we started doing that and realizing it was still a hockey game, we were fine," Eric Staal said. "We controlled a lot of the play and created enough to score, but we just couldn’t score. It’s frustrating."
"A little bit of a hard time scoring, but we didn’t start on time, either," head coach Bill Peters said. "We needed to have a better first period."
-- After getting outskated by the Blackhawks in the first period, the Canes pushed back in the second period, especially, outshooting the Blackhawks 19-6 (at one point, 10-0 in the first seven minutes of the period) and scoring a goal to cut Chicago’s lead in half.
"I think we came out good in the second and third and had a lot of chances, but we couldn’t find the net," Rask said. "[Crawford] did a good job. We’ve got to find a way to score."
"I think guys dug in," Peters said. "I don’t think guys wanted to play that way, and they just started hanging around with the puck and making some plays. I thought our D was very good from the start of the second period on, as far as making plays and having some poise."
Victor Rask was the player who dented the scoreboard, and his goal came just about four minutes in to the second frame, as he cleaned up a rebound off an Eric Staal shot. It was Rask’s 11th goal of the season, and he becomes the first Canes rookie since Jeff Skinner in 2010-11 to score more than 10 goals in a season.
"It was a good job by Rasker staying with it, going to the net. We played quick on that," Peters said. "It was a neutral-zone counter and transition. Made a play, Staalsy is in alone, he makes the first save and then a good job by us going to the net and staying hungry."
The Canes’ final shot tally was almost double what Chicago posted: 44-25.
"We definitely generated enough chances and looks in the offensive zone in the second and third period once we started playing," Staal said. "For whatever reason it’s not going to the back. We’ve got to keep working and competing. It’s a boring answer, but it is what it is."
"We had some quantity and quality, for sure, once we got through the first," Peters said.
-- Chicago scored twice in 79 seconds just prior to the midway point of the first period, which would ultimately prove to be the difference.
Andrew Sharp was the first to tally, as he was left wide open in the slot and finished off a pass from Marcus Kruger. Then it was Marian Hossa finding Patrick Sharp, who split the defensive pair of Ryan Murphy and Michal Jordan to make it a 2-0 game.
"We weren’t sharp early. Not sharp. We didn’t make any plays. We batted the puck around," Peters said. "We defended for a whole period of hockey. That’s a hard way to make a living."
Shaw added an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal the win for Chicago.
-- Anton Khudobin surrendered two goals on the first two shots he faced in tonight’s game – not that that’s an indicator of his performance on either – but ultimately turned in another solid effort in his fifth consecutive start, making 22 saves. He kept the Canes within striking distance, especially when Chicago held a two-goal lead. Khudobin stuffed Jonathan Toews with his pad flush along the goal line late in the period on a play that was reviewed and upheld as a good save.
"He made some good saves when we needed them to keep it close," Staal said. "We didn’t give up a ton shots, but the chances we did give up were pretty high-quality and he was there. That’s key in a game where you’re really pressing."
-- In this final stretch of the season, the Hurricanes play a total of 20 games in 37 days. In that stretch, there is just one instance of a two-day break in between games, and that will occur on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Canes host the Penguins on Thursday.
"I like our team, I really do. I don’t like the fact that we didn’t play 60 minutes here tonight. I don’t like our compete on some nights, and on some nights we don’t have 18 guys going. We don’t. That’s the reality," Peters said. "But I like our group, our young group and our veteran group. Somewhere in the middle we’ve got to get more out of guys and start on time."