Brett Pesce scored his first NHL goal against the Kings, then added another the next night in Philly, helping the Canes earn three of a possible four points in back-to-back games.
1. A common complaint among Hurricanes’ observers is the team seems to lack intensity and emotion. But the insertion of Brad Malone into the lineup and infusion of youth on defense has seemed to spark more passion the past few outings. Malone has been a wrecking ball, fighting twice in the last two games — after the team had no scraps in its first 19 — and punishing the opposition. Noah Hanifin is normally pretty stoic, but he was livid after referee Tim Peel awarded a penalty shot to the Kings Sunday on a questionable covering the puck in the crease call, smashing his stick against the boards. Then Monday Pesce scored the game-tying goal late in the third and celebrated with a primal scream and a few "Let's *bleep*ing go’s."
2. The Carolina penalty kill has faltered of late, allowing three goals against in the back-to-back set. That included Philadelphia’s game-winner in overtime, and the team has now slid to 26th in the NHL in penalty killing (76.1 percent). Coupled that with the league's worst power play (13.5 percent) and the team’s struggles to score 5-on-5, and it's easy to see why the Canes have scored 22 fewer goals than they have allowed.
3. Perhaps coach Bill Peters has finally found some lines he likes. The trio of Victor Rask centering Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm has seemingly invigorated Lindholm’s game — he had a combined 13 shots attempts and eight hits, along with two assists, in the back-to-back set. Malone and Jay McClement are reunited, and Malone has been a difference maker. Jordan Staal, Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil have also been effective, taking on the opposition’s best the past two games and keeping them in check. The quietest line has been Jeff Skinner and Kris Versteeg flanking Riley Nash, but Skinner scored against the Kings, while Nash had a good night in Philadelphia with a team-high 10 shot attempts, including a career-high six on net.
Number To Know
2 — Goals by Justin Faulk against the Kings, the first multi-goal game of the season by a Hurricanes player. Carolina was the last team in the NHL to have a player score twice in one game this season. Faulk notched both his goals on the power play, giving him eight PPGs on the season (tops in the NHL), and he is just one shy of Anton Babchuk’s Hurricanes season mark of nine, and four away from tying Risto Siltanen’s franchise-best 12 with Hartford in 1983-84. Faulk is on pace for 31 goals, which would be the most since Mike Green had 31 in 2008-09 with the Capitals. Eighteen of Green’s game on the power play, while Faulk has scored all his so far this season with the man advantage. The NHL record for power play goals by a defenseman in a season belongs to Sheldon Souray, with had 19 with Montreal in 2006-07.
Brett Pesce — The rookie blueliner has pulled a Faulk, seizing on his opportunity in Raleigh and solidifying a roster spot. He had three points in the two games — including his first two NHL goals — and is being relied on more and more in all facets. It's only 21 games into the season, but GM Ron Francis can look at his defense and feel pretty confident he doesn't have to make any additions in 2016-17. Pesce, Hanifin and Jaccob Slavin will only get better, and the team has another year on injured James Wisniewski’s contract, as well as another year of Ron Hainsey. With Faulk signed at a bargain price, Ryan Murphy a restricted free agent, Haydn Fleury and Trevor Carrick lurking, and more players developing, the Canes are set on D even if they opt to not re-sign John-Michael Liles this offseason.
Chris Terry — The injury to Nathan Gerbe Sunday against the Kings got Terry — a scratch for the first time this season vs. L.A. — back in the lineup Monday, but the journeyman winger simply doesn't work on the fourth line and couldn't get anything going despite more than a minute of power play time. He has just two points, both goals, in 20 games this season, and he's in the midst of a 10-game point drought. Terry’s best weapon — some would argue his only weapon — is his shot, but he has only managed more than two shots on goal once this season despite 12:34 minutes of ice time a night, including an average of one minute on the power play.
Gerbe Placed On Injured Reserve
The Hurricanes announced Tuesday that forward Nathan Gerbe was placed on injured reserve due to a lower body injury suffered Sunday against the Kings. He will miss four to six weeks. Here is the release from the team:
NATHAN GERBE TO BE PLACED ON INJURED RESERVE
Hurricanes forward expected to miss 4-6 weeks with lower body injury
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team will place forward Nathan Gerbe on injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 22. Gerbe suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday in the first period of Carolina’s 4-3 win against Los Angeles at PNC Arena. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.