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Game Analysis: Back To Back At Detroit, At Washington

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The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first win of the season Friday in Detroit, but couldn't follow that up with another, falling in Washington the next night.

Brock McGinn had a memorable first NHL, scoring on his first shift and adding an assist to help lead Carolina to its first win of the season, 5-2 over Detroit.
Brock McGinn had a memorable first NHL, scoring on his first shift and adding an assist to help lead Carolina to its first win of the season, 5-2 over Detroit.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina earned their first win of the season in Detroit, a 5-2 thumping that avenged their home opener loss to the Wings, but were unable to start up a winning streak, losing the next night in Washington, 4-1.

Three Observations

1. Cam Ward got both starts in the back to back and was actually better in the loss to Washington — despite allowing four goals, Ward made several dazzling saves vs. the Caps. Against Detroit, Ward was shakier — there were rebounds to be had, and he needed and got assistance from his teammates, who routinely cleared out pucks and also gave him five goals. The duel for the No. 1 job between him and Eddie Lack is certainly not decided, but to this point coach Bill Peters has certainly leaned more heavily on Ward.

2. Kris Versteeg and Eric Staal each have four points through five games, but both registered three in the win over the Red Wings. The positive is obviously that the two top-line forwards — who played with Brock McGinn most of both nights — were able to dominate a game and power the team to a win. But for the Hurricanes to get more W's, it's clear the team needs production from them, and one game — while a start — is not going to instill fear into opponents.

3. Jeff Skinner needed a bounce, and he finally got one in the third period against Washington. Without a goal through 14 periods in this young season, Skinner pick-pocketed former Canes winger Justin Williams and raced up the left side toward Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. With the play developing into a 3 on 1, Skinner fed the puck to the middle and had it go off Holtby’s skate and into the net, cutting Washington’s lead to one and briefly giving Carolina life.

Number To Know

82.7 — Combined percentages for the Hurricanes’ special teams through five games. Carolina’s success rate on the penalty kill this season is 72.7 percent after Washington scored twice Saturday. That ranks 25th in the NHL. The Hurricanes power play is converting at a 10 percent clip through five games, ranking them 24th in the league.

Plus

Brock McGinn — McGinn put himself in good company just one shift into his NHL career. The 21-year-old rookie scored 55 seconds into the Hurricanes’ 5-2 win at Detroit Friday, becoming the first player to score in the first minute of his NHL career since Alexander Mogilny — he of 76 goals and 127 points in 1992-93 — did so for Buffalo in 1989. McGinn finished with a goal and an assist in the win. He wasn't as noticeable against Washington — he was called for a penalty to John Carlson that led to the Capitals’ first power play goal, but it was clearly a dive/missed call by the refs — but he still may have earned himself a full-time spot on Carolina’s roster.

Minus

Jordan Staal — The younger Staal has no points through five games this season, one of only two players (along with Andrej Nestrasil) to play in each game for Carolina and not register a point. Yes, Staal is more valued for his defensive play, but given his contract and the expectations, he needs to start producing on the score sheet.

Pesce reassigned to Charlotte

The Hurricanes reassigned defenseman Brett Pesce to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers Sunday. He did not play in either game this weekend, but he or another defenseman should be recalled ahead of Carolina’s game in Colorado Wednesday. Here is the release from the team.

HURRICANES REASSIGN BRETT PESCE TO CHARLOTTE
Defenseman was recalled to Carolina on Wednesday

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned defenseman Brett Pesce to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Pesce was recalled to Carolina on Wednesday, but did not play in the team’s games at Detroit and Washington on Friday and Saturday, respectively.