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Game Analysis: Ducks At Hurricanes

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Carolina’s slide continued Monday with a 4-1 loss at home to Anaheim. Noah Hanifin notched his first career goal, but Eddie Lack was outdueled by the goalie he replaced, Anton Khudobin.

Anaheim’s Carl Hagelin had three points — including this wraparound goal on Eddie Lack — after managing just two points in his first 17 games with the Ducks.
Anaheim’s Carl Hagelin had three points — including this wraparound goal on Eddie Lack — after managing just two points in his first 17 games with the Ducks.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Hanifin scored his first NHL goal, but that was all the offense Carolina could muster Monday in a 4-1 home loss to Anaheim. The loss dropped the Hurricanes to 0-1-2 through three games of their current five-game home stand, and to 6-10-2 with 14 points on the season.

Three Observations

1. Anton Khudobin beat Eddie Lack in a matchup of Carolina’s former and current backup goalies. Khudobin has settled in nicely as the Ducks No. 2 netminder, but Lack has crumbled under the expectations he would compete with Ward for time as the Canes’ top goalie. That's a concern for the Hurricanes, both in the long and short term. Lack is already signed to a two-year extension that will pay him $2.5 million next season and $3 million in 2017-18, presumably setting him up to be Carolina’s No. 1 goalie at a reasonable rate. But if Lack can't shake out of his funk (1-4, .861 save percentage and 3.37 goals-against average), the team could find themselves in the same situation they did with Khudobin: having a high-priced, underachieving backup and no one to lead the team back to the postseason.

2. The Hurricanes have been able to snap many slumps — just not many of their own. That continued Monday with struggling Carl Hagelin — who was benched for the third period in Anaheim’s previous game — registering three points, including a wraparound goal, after managing just two in the season’s previous 17 games. Ryan Getzlaf also got his first goal of the year, albeit an empty netter, for the Ducks.

3. The Canes did not take a penalty Monday and are easily the NHL’s least penalized team at just 4:26 of penalty time per game (2:11 second less than second place Minnesota). Carolina is the only NHL team without a major penalty this season — Monday's opponent, Anaheim, is tied for the league lead with nine — and even Chicago’s oft-celebrated stoic captain, Jonathan Toews, has two fights. How little is Carolina being penalized? According to NHL.com statistics, the Hurricanes’ 4:26 of penalty box time per game is currently the fifth fewest going back to the 1917-18 season and would best last year’s team — which holds the mark for fewest PIMs in a full season in the last 65 years at 6:41 — by more than two minutes.

Number To Know

10:55 — Ice time for Victor Rask Monday, the second fewest minutes of his career as he centered Chris Terry (10:06) and Joakim Nordstrom (10:15) on Carolina’s least-used line. Rask has only played less in one game — his ninth NHL game on Nov. 1, 2014, vs. Arizona in a 3-0 win. The trio were on the ice for the team’s only goal.

Plus

Noah Hanifin —As mentioned after the loss to Philadelphia, Hanifin was on the prowl for his first NHL goal. The apyoff came Monday when his laser from the point beat Khudobin on the short side for the Hurricanes’ lone goal on the night. Hanifin has been scratched a few times of late, but the coaching staff has also rewarded him with more responsibility, giving him time on the Carolina power play. Hanifin is now rewarding them, showing more confidence in the offensive zone.

Minus

Jordan Staal — After registering points in four of five game, Staal has now gone four games without a point. He had his chances Monday — there were at least three instances when Staal was in the right spot around the Ducks crease, but couldn't find a rebound and finish off a play. It's good to see Staal attacking the net, but goal-starved Carolina needs to finish every chance it gets.