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About Last Night: Hurricanes Drop Defensive Battle to Canadiens

The Canes ended up on the losing side of the fight for the first time in 5 games.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes matched up against the Montreal Canadiens last night looking for their sixth straight win. Despite Elias Lindholm’s second goal of the year, the Canes ultimately fell on Thanksgiving night, Montreal earning revenge for their loss to the Canes last week in Raleigh.

Bill Peters had talked about the Canes needing something special to overcome the superb Carey Price, and while they certainly got it with Elias Lindholm’s goal in the second period, Price shut the door the rest of the way. While the winning streak came to an end, the team’s confidence has been restored and continued play like what they put out last night will see them start another win streak in short order.

Talking Points

Lindholm Scores Into a Pinhole

Elias Lindholm scored his second goal of the year last night, his second goal in his last three games. He sniped a shot past Canadiens goalie Carey Price that Price later explained as “a perfect shot”.

The Hurricanes had an abundance of chances last night but failed to convert. Losing despite outshooting the opposition is a narrative that is not unfamiliar to this team, although it has faded into the background lately. Including last night, of the Canes’ eleven losses this season, in only two have they been outshot by the winning team. Last night Price, as he has been all season for the Habs, was the difference.

Ward Keeps On Rolling

Cam Ward impressed again last night despite taking his first loss in 6 games. Ward saw 22 shots and allowed 2 goals for a save percentage of .909. His statistics won’t blow you away, but the longtime Canes backstop played well enough for the Hurricanes to steal a win. When he’s doing things like this, your team has a chance to win every night, which is all you can ask from your goaltender:

A writer for In Goal magazine, Paul Campbell, noticed that the Habs were trying to take advantage of a weakness they identified in Ward’s game:

Since so much of goaltending is a chess match between opposing coaches, it will be interesting to see if Ward makes any adjustments to plug that hole.

Challenges are challenging for Peters

Bill Peters has yet to win a challenge this season. #analysis: that isn’t good.

Prior to Max Pacioretty’s game-winner, Peters challenged whether Tomas Plekanec put himself offside carrying the puck into the zone. Judge for yourself:

It’s a tight call, but frankly not all that close. It didn’t take long for referee Ghislain Hebert to confirm that it was a a good goal.

The challenge itself isn’t the big issue. How much would the Canes have been able to benefit from having a timeout in their pocket to draw up a play late in the game? They had three faceoffs with Ward on the bench late in the game, and specifically the one following an icing with 1:09 to go would have been a perfect time to draw something up. But after the failed challenge, Peters had no option to do that.

Peters has done a lot of things right over the past two weeks, but his usage of challenges (and costing his team a timeout in doing so) leaves a lot to be desired. It may not have cost the Canes the game - after all, they needed to put at least one past Price regardless - but it certainly cut the number of options available late.

Moral of the Story

Looking at the schedule, short of going 3-0 and extending the winning streak to eight, the Canes are still likely in a best-case scenario if they win Saturday in Ottawa. Losing to the Canadiens, who are miles ahead of anyone else in the East, does little to impact the bunched-up jockeying for playoff spots down at the other end of the standings.

By comparison, the games against the Leafs and Senators are four-pointers that will have a much bigger impact on the standings. The Canes won their first on Tuesday, and if they can make it two for two they’ll still be in a solid position regardless of last night. Most everyone in the East plays today, so the Canes will have games in hand over everyone in front of them by tomorrow.

The loss to the Canadiens decreases the margin for error, but it’s not completely gone by a long shot. The attitude of the team after last night was to brush it off and get ready to start a new streak. Do that, and last night won’t matter in the bigger scheme much at all.