Game Analysis: Kings At Hurricanes

Jiri Tlusty takes a curtain call following Carolina's 2-1 win Saturday over the Kings. Tlusty tied the game early in the second on a great individual effort to get his career-best 11th goal of the season. (Photo by Jamie Kellner)

The Carolina Hurricanes fell behind early to the Los Angeles Kings but rallied to score the game's final two goals for a 2-1 win at the RBC Center Saturday. Jiri Tlusty scored and Jeff Skinner had the game-winner for Carolina, while Cam Ward made 24 saves for his third win in his last four starts.

The win moved the Canes to 20-25-9 on the season with 49 points, ranking them 14th in the Eastern Conference.

Three Observations

1. Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford surely has a big decision to make concerning pending unrestricted free agent Tuomo Ruutu. Even though he was kept off the score sheet, Ruutu was among Carolina's top forwards against the Kings. He led all players with eight shots (a season-high for him) and had quality chances against Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier throughout the night. Ruutu's value is surely at its peak, but the team has earned 14 of a possible 20 points in its last 10 games. It may be too late to make the playoffs this season, but has Kirk Muller's new system proved that the Hurricanes can win with their current mix of players? And if so, should Rutherford explore re-signing Ruutu instead of dealing him, as he did with defenseman Tim Gleason? It's certainly food for thought.

2. It was a lackluster night in the faceoff circle for Carolina, which won just 19 of 47 faceoffs on the night. Most notably, they won just one of six draws while on the power play, which certainly contributed to them getting just four shots on goal in six minutes with the man advantage.

3. Gleason's end-of-the-first-period fight with Kyle Clifford won't show up on any Don Cherry Rock 'Em Sock 'Em DVDs, but it seemed to light a fire under his teammates after they had played a below-average opening frame. It was Gleason's fifth fight of the season, one shy of his career-high, which he reached twice before. After fighting just twice last season, Gleason seems to have his snarl back.

Number To Know

473 — Blocked shots for the Hurricanes this season, which ranks third in the NHL behind Montreal and Toronto. Jiri Tlusty was credited with two, the first of which led to his game-tying goal in the second period.

Plus

Jiri Tlusty — A big thumbs-up to Tlusty for one of the best individual efforts of the year. With the Hurricanes down a goal in the second period, Tlusty blocked an Alec Martinez shot in the defensive zone and sprung himself on a partial breakaway into the Kings end. He finished it with a quick shot that Bernier couldn't stop, tying the game and giving Tlusty his career-high 11th goal on the season. I don't think anyone sees Tlusty as a long-term answer on the first line, but he has proven that he's a capable top-nine forward.

Minus

Anthony Stewart— Stewart didn't have a bad night, but his one notable moment in the game was taking a cross-checking penalty that eventually led to L.A.'s lone goal. Drew Doughty —who, in my opinion, looks nowhere near the player who was a Norris Trophy finalist two years ago — looks like he sold the crosscheck a bit, but Stewart still needs to avoid offensive zone penalties at all costs.

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