Jiri Tlusty scored twice and Ryan Murphy was impressive in his NHL debut, but Carolina’s goaltending faltered and the Hurricanes lost to Winnipeg, 4-3, at PNC Arena Thursday night. Here's a closer look at the game.
1. Alexander Semin’s first period assist was one for the memory banks. Not only did he dazzle with his behind the back pass through Zach Bogosian’s legs, but it was his forechecking effort on a lazy Ron Hainsey that led to the chance. Just a brilliant play that is worth watching again.
2. Ryan Murphy’s NHL debut went extremely well. He wasn’t perfect — there were times when he was standing around too much in his own end, plus he had a couple defensive and neutral zone turnovers — but it is easy to see how a scout could become enamored with his skills. He played nearly 24 minutes (can anyone think of a midseason call up ever getting that much time in their first career game?) and was on the ice in crucial situations all night. For those wondering how the defense will look in 2013-14, I think we all got a good look at one-sixth of it.
3. The Hurricanes dressed nine players under the age of 26 Thursday, but two of the veterans made the most crucial mistakes. Cam Ward would probably like to have stopped all of Winnipeg's first three goals, while Joe Corvo — the oldest player on the team at 35 years old — flubbed a leaping attempt at grabbing the puck late in the third that led to Blake Wheeler’s breakaway and game-winning goal. I expect Ward to quickly bounce back, but Corvo, more than any player on the roster, is prone to slumping. With so many defensemen hurt, Carolina needs Corvo playing well. He needs to shake off this mishap and lead the defense.
Number To Know
8 — Players who have played in all 15 of Carolina’s games. The Hurricanes have already dressed 27 different players this season, including nine different defensemen.
Jiri Tlusty — Tlusty continues to establish himself as a legitimate first liner. He had his third two-goal outing in his last five games — the first time in his career he has registered that many multigoal games in a season. While much credit is due to Semin for his asssit on Tlusty’s first marker, it's worth stating that earlier in the year Carolina’s players often weren't ready for Semin’s nifty passing. Not true Thursday, as Tlusty seemed to be expecting the amazing and easily finished Semin's feed. On the second goal, Tlusty used his underrated combination of size and speed to explode through the Jets defense to knot the game at 3. His now has six even-strength, which ranks tied for 10th in the NHL.
Cam Ward — Ward didn't have it Thursday. After rebounding from a bad start to the season, Ward looks to be in another funk — and it cost the Hurricanes two points Thursday. After playing well on the Hurricanes’ six-game road trip, Ward has now lost two straight, and you really can't fault the patchwork defense. He has given up four goals in half of his 12 starts and simply needs to be better if the Canes are going to survive their injuries and stay in the playoff hunt.