Game Analysis: Canadiens At Hurricanes

Jeff Skinner's two third-period goals sparked the Hurricanes to an eventual 5-4 overtime win. - Grant Halverson

The Carolina Hurricanes closed out 2013 in style, erasing a 3-0 deficit entering the third period and leaving PNC Arena with a 5-4 overtime win.

There wasn't much to like about the first 40 minutes of Carolina’s New Year’s Eve tilt against the Montreal Canadiens, but the Hurricanes made sure the rest of the night was memorable. The Canes had four unanswered goals in the third period, then overcame Montreal’s tying goal in the third to win on an Alexander Semin tally in overtime.

Three Observations

1. For all the warm, fuzzy feelings the team and fans will have about this game, it still featured a squad that was unable to put together a 60-minute effort. Granted this time it was the Hurricanes, not the opposition, finding their legs in the final frame, but that doesn't change the fact that Carolina spent two periods being outplayed, out-efforted and outscored.

2. The Canes pummeled the Habs in the faceoff circle, winning a staggering 58 of 87 draws (67 percent). That included 20-plus wins for Eric Staal (29 wins, 11 losses) and Jordan Staal (20 wins, 7 losses).

3. With Tim Gleason en route to Toronto for John-Michael Liles, it's hard to not endorse Manny Malhotra as the new second alternate captain in his place. Malhotra is a feel-good story laced with determination and hard work. But more importantly, Malhotra is a clear leader. It's not always about scoring big goals — though Malhotra’s goals-to-big-goals ratio as a Hurricane is a franchise-best 2:2 — but the addition of Malhotra (and Radek Dvorak, for that matter) has clearly added a different kind of leadership on the ice and along the bench. Sure, Justin Faulk is an option — and it's nice to have one guy on defense wearing a letter — but his time will come. For the here and now, Malhotra deserves the permanent "A."

Number To Know

0.923 — Goals per game Jeff Skinner is averaging in his last 13 games, having scored 12 of his 16 goals in that stretch.

Plus

Jeff Skinner — Skinner’s two goals early in the third period opened the floodgates for the Hurricanes, who rallied to score two more goals then eventually win the game in overtime. He also added the primary assist on Eric Staal’s game-tying goal, giving him two three-point games this season.

Minus

Riley Nash — If you're the No. 3/4 center and the team you play for is rumored to be looking for a third-line center, the last thing you can afford to do is get hurt for a week or two. Nash has had a good season, registering 10 points in 36 games despite averaging less than a dozen minutes a night. Malhotra continues to be a faceoff ace, so Nash could be the odd-man out if the Canes make a move down the middle.

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