The Carolina Hurricanes closed in on the Coyotes in NHL standings with a 2-1 shootout win Thursday in Arizona. The Canes improved to 18-26-7 with 43 points, just two points behind the Coyotes in the league standings as both teams eye their improvement and, perhaps more importantly, their odds in the draft lottery.
1. Carolina’s young Swedes came through again, with Victor Rask scoring 63 seconds into the game and Elias Lindholm putting on a sick display to give the Canes the lone goal in the shootout. Rask’s seventh goal puts him tied for 12th among NHL rookies, and his 17 points are tied for 13th. Among rookies, Rask also ranks fourth in shots (108), power play points (seven), and ice time by forwards (16:00).
2. Ryan Murphy left the game with a left leg injury, the latest speed bump in the young defenseman’s development. If Murphy’s injury is serious — he was spotted on crutches today by a fan — it opens the door for Brett Bellemore to enter the lineup, and perhaps more young players. Andrej Sekera will either be re-signed or traded, and if he goes (the more likely scenario, in my opinion) the Hurricanes could have room for someone like Michal Jordan or Rasmus Rissanen down the stretch.
3. Ron Hainsey has settled nicely into a support role with the Hurricanes, and with the team down to just five D last night he played one of his better games of the season while logging more than 20 minutes at even strength. Hainsey was the fancy stats winner Thursday, logging a plus-11 Corsi and plus-14 Fenwick, and he even managed his first point since Jan. 8 by assisting on Carolina’s lone goal. Yes, he was "sheltered" (no defensive zone starts), but on a night when Carolina needed a little extra out of their five healthy blueliners, Hainsey helped immensely.
Number To Know
7 — Hurricanes players with at least six shot attempts. They were: Eric Staal (7, three on goal); Nathan Gerbe (7, four on goal); Elias Lindholm (6, three on goal); John-Michael Liles (6, three on goal); Justin Faulk (6, three on goal); Victor Rask (7, three on goal); and Jeff Skinner (7, four on goal). Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal, Andrej Sekera and Andrej Nestrasil all also finished with at least three shots on goal.
Elias Lindholm — Since sitting out the Jan. 31 game at New York as a healthy scratch, Lindholm has picked up his play. Lindholm played more than 20 minutes, finished with six shot attempts (three on goal), and notched the lone shootout goal to give Carolina the extra point.
Jay McClement — It's hard to find a goat on a night when the team played fairly well. The entire defense gets a pass for playing with just a five-man unit. It's not really deserving, but we'll go with McClement, who seemed to have less impact than he's had in recent games.