Game Analysis: Back To Back Vs. Flyers, At Lightning

Jiri Tlusty scores one of his two goals Sunday vs. Tampa Bay. He leads the NHL with eight multi-goal games and 18 even-strength goals. - USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes split their weekend back-to-back games, losing 5-3 at home Saturday to Philadelphia but bouncing back for a 3-2 win in Tampa Bay Sunday.

A Saturday of on-ice disinterest from the Carolina Hurricanes was followed up by a first-period fury Sunday. The Canes got three first-period goals Sunday en route to a 3-2 win in Tampa Bay, partially the erasing the bad taste remaining after the effort at home vs. Philadelphia the previous night, a 5-3 loss. Here's a closer look at the Carolina's weekend split.

Three Observations

1. Jiri Tlusty registered his league-leading eighth multi-goal game Sunday, scoring twice in the first on the Lightning's Anders Lindback. He now has 21 goals on the season, tied for fifth in the NHL. He also has 18 even-strength goals, tied for the league lead in with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

2. The goalie debate rages on. Justin Peters dropped Saturday's game at home to the Flyers, while Dan Ellis got the road win over the Lightning the next night. Statistically, Ellis holds the edge in most categories, but he has also gotten better play in front of him than Peters has most nights. Despite the fact that Peters already has a one-way deal for next season and Ellis is an unrestricted free agent, I think GM Jim Rutherford will opt to re-sign Ellis and again install him as Cam Ward's backup for 2013-14.

3. Rookie Nic Blanchard has definitely made his presence felt in six games with the Hurricanes. Blanchard already has four fighting majors, giving him a combined 19 this season when you include his 15 AHL scraps. He's also averaging more than 2.5 hits per game (16) despite getting limited ice time. With Kevin Westgarth signed next season, it's hard to envision the Hurricanes keeping Blanchard on the fourth line to start 2013-14. But if coach Kirk Muller wants to emulate some other NHL teams and have a more rough-and-tumble energy line, Blanchard could be the answer.

Number To Know

4 — points this season for Chad LaRose in 32 games played, a sliver of what he has produced in the previous seven seasons for the Hurricanes. LaRose's ice time has also plummeted to 12:27 this year after going up every season since 2006-07.

Plus

Justin Faulk — Faulk has emerged as one of the league's best-kept secrets in 2012-13. But anyone who watches the Hurricanes regularly know how important he is to the team's fortunes. On a night when the Canes were blown off the ice by the Flyers, he and partner Tim Gleason finished plus-3. Faulk also got his fifth goal of the season in just 34 games, a pace that would give him double digit goals in a healthy 82-game campaign. Then he and Gleason helped neutralize Tampa Bay's top two lines to help lead Carolina to a victory. He totaled seven shots on goal (13 total attempts) over the weekend set.

Minus

Patrick Dwyer — It's been 18 games since Dwyer was a plus player, and he finished minus-2 and minus-1 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Dwyer has been bounced around a lot this year — more due to injuries in the rest of the lineup than his own inability to find a niche — and has struggled down the stretch for the Canes. Dwyer is minus-13 in his last 15 games with just one goal and one assist. Still, his seven goals this season are one shy of his career high in 2010-11 despite the shortened season.

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