March 6, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk (28) scores the game winning goal against Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) in overtime at Verizon Center. The Hurricanes won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
The Carolina Hurricanes played their 17th and 18th overtime games on Tuesday and Wednesday, splitting the first two games of their five-game road trip with a win at Washington, 4-3, and a loss at Buffalo, 3-2. Chad LaRose scored both nights and Eric Staal extended his point streak to 12 games vs. the Caps before being shut out against the Sabres.
The Canes are now 25-27-15 with 65 points, tied with the Islanders for 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings.
1. The Hurricanes' league-worst road record fell to 8-14-9 with the split. Ten of Carolina's remaining 15 games are on the road, so the Canes' seven-point deficit — coupled with the six teams in front of them — in the race for eighth place in the conference is pretty insurmountable at this point. While the team surely doesn't want to end the season a low note, Carolina could see a valley with all those road games. If the team accumulates home and road points at the pace they have thus far this season, they would only get 11 points in their final 15 games and finish with 76 points. Based on point totals for the past few seasons, that would likely put Carolina in the bottom three to five teams, giving them a coveted high draft pick.
2. Staal will likely finish the season with the NHL's longest point streak at 12 games, but the Sabres made sure Wednesday it didn't go any longer. Still, Staal deserves credit for turning his season around. He's now on pace for 72 points and could certainly get to a point per game if he continues to produce at the 1.34 pace he has in the last 29 games. If he did, he would register approximately 20 points in the season's final 15 games, giving 79 for the season. That would be the most since he had 82 in 2007-08, and if he stays healthy and plays in all those games it would be the fifth time in eight NHL seasons that he played in all 82 games. The other three seasons he played 81, 81 and 70 regular season games.
3. After limiting opponents to less than 30 shots in the last three games, the Hurricanes allowed a barrage of shots on Cam Ward in the two overtime efforts. Ward faced a total of 91 shots and stopped 85 of them. Only once in his career has he seen more shots in consecutive games (in wins on Dec. 16 and 18, 2010, at Atlanta and home vs. Anaheim, respectively, he faced a combined 92 shots, saving 88), and it was the highest total he's ever faced in games on back-to-back nights.
Number To Know
11 — Shots on goal in the two games for LaRose, a tie for the second-most he's registered in two consecutive games and the most since he had 13 in games on Nov. 15 and 17, 2009. He, however, didn't score in either of those games in 2009, but got goals in both of Carolina's last two games.
Brandon Sutter — The 23-year-old alternate captain was arguably the best player on the ice Tuesday against the Capitals, converting a breakaway and feeding a saucer pass to Justin Faulk for the game-winning overtime goal. He then did his part to slow Buffalo's top line of Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. The trio did register three points — all on the power play — but had none with Sutter on the ice despite him playing nearly six minutes shorthanded.
Jussi Jokinen — Jokinen tallied a secondary assist for his faceoff win on Jaroslav Spacek's goal against Buffalo, his fourth point in six games. But his lack of discipline cost the Canes dearly Wednesday night. Jokinen took three minor penalties — the most minutes he's taken in a game in his seven-season career — the first of which led to a Buffalo goal that gave the Sabres both the lead and momentum in the second period.