The Carolina Hurricanes won their second-straight game on their four-game road trip by knocking off the Islanders, 4-3, on Long Island. Jiri Tlusty scored twice, while Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner had the other goals.
1. The Hurricanes have still lost more than they've won this season — two regulation losses and three overtime/shootout defeats compared to four regulation wins — but they have found a way to get points in seven of their first nine games. That's good enough to have them on a 100-point pace right now despite having played several difficult opponents — Chicago, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Detroit are all at least tied for the top five in the league in points heading into Sunday’s games — with Minnesota and surprising Colorado up next. If the Canes can manage at least two points in those two road games, or dare I say three, they will officially be off to a great start.
2. Carolina might not have the talent-heavy defense of, say, Vancouver, but right now the Hurricanes boast seven NHL-worthy defensemen with one more — injured-but-skating alternate captain Tim Gleason — close to rejoining the lineup. What does that mean? Well, either Kirk Muller is going to have to start dressing seven defensemen or the team could be in the market to ship out one of their blueliners. Brett Bellemore almost certainly wouldn't clear waivers if the team tried to reassign him to Charlotte, and Mike Komisarek had a very solid game playing in front of his family on Long Island. Jay Harrison is a solid voice in the room, good with the young players and on a very reasonable contract, while Ron Hainsey has emerged as the team’s best bottom four defender. Ryan Murphy is emerging as a key contributor offensively and has held his own in his own end. The team could choose to carry eight d-men, especially since injuries are sure to occur at some point, but that could put them in a bit of a roster crunch down the road.
3. Skinner’s nifty backhand goal kept him red hot on the score sheet this season, but now the team needs to work on keeping him cooler under the collar. Skinner took two penalties on the night, and both led to Islanders’ goals. Skinner will always draw more penalties than he takes and has become somewhat of an effective agitator with his constant chatter, but he needs to limit his silly penalties.
Number To Know
2 — goals for Tlusty. The Czech winger led the NHL in multi-goal games last season, notching nine in 48 games en route to 23 tallies and a tie for fifth place in the NHL in goal scoring. It didn't take him long to take over the multi-goal season lead in Carolina — he is the first player through nine games to score twice in a game for the Canes.
Jiri Tlusty — Tlusty finally got the monkey off his back, scoring twice to notch his first points of the season. The goals showcased Tlusty’s goal-scoring abilities: the first saw him opportunistically swoop in and deposit a loose puck past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov; and the second had him one-timing a still-airborne saucer pass from Alexander Semin into the net for No. 2. If Tlusty and the top line can really get going, Carolina could get on a roll.
Kevin Westgarth — For the second straight game, Westgarth played less than two minutes, and on his first of three shifts on the night took a needless holding penalty that could have put the Canes in an early hole. One could at least make an argument for having Westgarth in the lineup ahead of Brett Sutter against the Maple Leafs because of Toronto’s deserved reputation as a rough-and-tumble team, but the Islanders — like Carolina — have just one fighting major on the season and the culprit, fighter Eric Boulton, was not in the lineup.