The Carolina Hurricanes shut out the St. Louis Blues last night 1-0, as the team played their best defensive game of the year. Cam Ward was also very solid in goal for the Canes and earned his first shut-out of the season.
After allowing a franchise record 60 shots on goal Saturday night against the Islanders, the team has concentrated more in their own zone. They only allowed 19 shots on net last night, and just 9 in the first two periods.
The Canes also limited their penalties, (3) which was a must in this game because the Blues had the top-rated powerplay in the league.
Tuomo Ruutu got the game winner by tipping an Eric Staal shot under Chris Mason mid-way through the third period. The Blues goalie had an outstanding game himself, stopping multiple opportunities up to that point. He finished with 28 saves on 29 shots.
The win gave Carolina a 3-1-2 record on their six game road trip. Eight points earned ties a franchise record for the second best six game road trip ever. The team can also be proud that they battled through some adversity and were successful even though they lost a couple of important players to injury.
In a few of those road games, the Canes didn't always play their best hockey but still managed to come away with points. When that happens, you're either lucky, or good.
The Hurricanes now have a 5-2-2 record, good for first place in the Southeast Division. They return home to play Edmonton on Saturday afternoon (3 PM), and Toronto, Sunday evening (5 PM).
The good stuff-
The Canes more or less dominated this game from start to finish. The Blues were able to put on some pressure at times, but for the most part it was all Carolina.
The penalty kill was outstanding.
They only committed three penalties for the game. (not counting Gleason's major)
Tim Gleason smacked Cam Janssen around a bit after Janssen took a run at him in the second period.
The team defense was excellent. Players used their sticks well to make countless deflections.
They were much improved at breaking the puck out of their zone. For the second consecutive game, they only had six give-aways.
Carolina won 57% of their face-offs.
The bad stuff-
The team blew too many chances on the powerplay, including a wasted four minute opportunity when Anton Babchuk was high-sticked. That could have come back to bite them. The powerplay did seem to look better and the team created several chances, (especially for Ray Whitney), but didn't capitalize until Ruutu's tip. Give Chris Mason some credit for that as well.
Eric Staal took an ill-timed penalty in the third period in retaliation for Rod Brind'Amour getting roughed up. All's well that end's well, but if the Blues would have scored there he might have regretted taking that one.
Next up is Erik Cole and Edmonton. Cole has only scored one goal and one assist so far this year. (Joni Pitkanen has more points). Will he break out against his old club?
More analysis about that game later.