Game Analysis: Back-To-Back Vs. Ducks, At Blues

Chris Terry celebrates his game-winning shootout attempt Friday at PNC Arena. - Jamie Kellner

The Carolina Hurricanes pushed their point streak to five games with a shootout win over the Ducks Friday, but fell at St. Louis the next night for their first regulation loss in two weeks.

The Carolina Hurricanes got two of a possible four points against two of the NHL’s best teams, taking down the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout and then dropping a one-goal decision in St. Louis.

Three Observations

1. A night after he helped the Carolina power play convert against the Ducks, Ryan Murphy was out of the lineup vs. St. Louis. It's a long season and Murphy can benefit from taking a game off and observing the action, but it was clear the Canes missed his puck-carrying skills. It did mean Tim Gleason returned to the lineup, playing just his fourth game of the season. But why not let Gleason have a night on D and plug Murphy into Mike Komisarek's spot on the fourth line? While Komisarek was what he needed to be the past two games playing forward — making smart, simple plays and hitting everything that moves — Carolina desperately needed Murphy against the high-flying Blues.

2. The Hurricanes are seemingly close to getting Jeff Skinner and Cam Ward back, so let's hope they don't now lose another big piece in Alexander Semin. Semin took a big, clean hit from Alex Pietrangelo Saturday and only returned briefly before missing the rest of the game. There's no word as of Sunday night whether or not Semin will miss any more action, but It doesn't get easier Monday with the physical Bruins coming to Raleigh.

3. Carolina’s young, developing players are starting to make more and more of an impact. Chris Terry and Riley Nash are playing bottom six roles and also becoming shootout regulars — the duo scored against the Ducks, earning the Canes an extra point — while Justin Peters and Brett Bellemore have been key players the past two weeks. Finally, Drayson Bowman, who had a scoring pedigree in junior but has evolved into a reliable checker, scored a big goal Friday and has even seen time with Eric Staal and Semin on the top line on occasion.

Number To Know

2 — Hurricanes who are now in double digits in points, making them the final team in the league to have a player reach 10 points. Eric Staal’s two goals give him 11 points on the season, while Nathan Gerbe's shorthanded tally Saturday has him at 10 points. New Jersey (also two) and Buffalo (one) are the only teams with so few double-digit scorers. Chicago leads the league with 10 players with at least 10 points.

Plus

Eric Staal — It still isn't the dominant Staal of last season, but goals in back-to-back games for the Carolina captain is a big step in the right direction. He was credited with a power play tally Friday against the Ducks when he got a piece of a lasered shot by Semin, then scored shorthanded to get the Canes back in the game in St. Louis.

Minus

Jiri Tlusty — Tlusty isn't one to pout or change his game based on what line he plays on or how much ice time he gets, but right now he's on a roller coaster of playing on the top line or the fourth line. Surprisingly, Tlusty is still tied for fifth among Carolina forwards in points, but the team needs more than six points in 20 games — frankly, outside of Gerbe and Skinner, they need more out of every forward — from one of last season’s top goal scorers.

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