The Carolina Hurricanes figured out yet another way to lose as they gave up 3 short-handed goals and fell to the New York Islanders last night, 6-3. You read that correctly, 3 short-handed goals. The Canes certainly tested the old saying that if you give up a "shortie", you deserve to lose.
Other than those disaster filled powerplays, I thought that it was a decent enough game by the home team. Carolina dominated play for long periods at a time. They outshot the Fishsticks 47-31, they drew more penalties, and they had more scoring chances. But questionable play at the blueline along with inconsistent goaltending killed them.
I'm not going to do a play-by-play of this game. I'll just review some good things and bad things as I remember them.
The first Hurricanes goal was on a perfect deflection by Eric Staal. The dude came to play again last night.
After falling behind 4-1, Carolina refused to quit and kept coming back until it was 4-3 and had several chances to tie the game after that. But they could never crack Wade Dubielewicz when they really needed to. The NY back-up had a fine game.
During the final Carolina goal scored by Matt Cullen, Andrew Ladd cleared the crease by literally leveling a NY defenseman. The hit was a thing of beauty. Once again Andrew helped to score a goal by creating havoc in front of the net, but earns no points for his efforts.
For the most part the forwards were buzzing, creating scoring chance after scoring chance. Brind'Amour and Samsonov came close several times, as did the 3rd line of Cullen, Walker, and Ladd.
There is simply no excuse for allowing three shorties. Two were on the same powerplay. In essence, that gave NY the game regardless how well they played otherwise.
On the first shortie, 3 or 4 Canes were behind their own net scrambling for the puck. Mike Sillinger was all alone in front of the net. Of course the puck came out to him and Cam Ward had no chance on that shot.
On the next shortie, it seemed like Frank Kaberle was skating in slow motion after the puck got by him at the point and he turned to go get it. Richard Park skated by him like he was standing still and buried the open opportunity. It looked like a lazy play from my angle. Kaberle must have more urgency to retrieve that puck.
Shortly after that, Sillinger got yet another shortie when Mike Commodore coughed up the puck at the blueline. I thought Ward had a good chance to stop this one because Sillinger was coming at an angle instead of straight on. The goalie had a bad night though. I'm surprised that he wasn't replaced when it was 4-1.
Ward had 25 saves out of 30 shots. In my opinion, a couple of those goals were pretty soft. He also had trouble handling the puck again and somehow lost it directly in front of the net for the 2nd game in a row. But once again he was lucky and no Islander was close enough to take advantage of the wide open opportunity. Calling Greg Stefan..where are you???
There still is an obvious need for a puck-moving defenseman. I recall one specific play where a single New York forward was pressuring the puck during a line change for the Islanders. The Canes defensemen were Hedican and Gleason. Both were fumbling the puck as they passed it to each other and could not get it out of the zone, even with just one forward pressuring them. A Hurricanes forward had to skate all the way back to the goal line to gather the puck and pass it out. That's just one example, but I don't think that type of play is very unusual.
"Slow" Joe Vasicek even beat the Hurricanes power play unit down the ice one time and had a chance at yet another short-handed goal. Ward was able to stop that particular shot though.
The Hurricanes are off for a week now, except for Eric Staal who will travel to Atlanta for the All Star celebration this weekend. For the moment Carolina remains in first place in the division, but as other teams have several games in hand that position is in doubt. We will see how long the lead holds up. Happy Hump Day!