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Game Analysis: Back To Back At Senators, Vs. Sharks

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The Carolina Hurricanes split their back-to-back games Thursday and Friday, losing in Ottawa but then bouncing back for a convincing home win over San Jose.

Phil Di Giuseppe had five hits Friday against San Jose, helping the Hurricanes set the tone of the game against the bigger Sharks.
Phil Di Giuseppe had five hits Friday against San Jose, helping the Hurricanes set the tone of the game against the bigger Sharks.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes were unable to bury the Ottawa Senators Thursday, but earned two vital points in a bounce-back win Friday over the San Jose Sharks.

Three Observations

1. It's becoming a broken record, but Carolina’s young D continues to play well, even without Justin Faulk. It's especially true of rookie Jaccob Slavin, who is logging top-pairing minutes (a total of 45:21 in the two games) in Faulk’s absence, and is starting to show more offensive flair. Slavin’s most impressive moment — at least as far as raw skill — came Friday when he led the rush up the ice and pulled away from a trailing Patrick Marleau, who at 36 is still one of the league’s best skaters.

2. Eric Staal finally snapped his point drought, earning an assist on Jeff Skinner's power play goal early in the third period of the San Jose win for his first point since Jan. 26. Staal still hasn't scored in 15 games, but he's been knocking on the door for some time now and just needs one to go his way to ease the pressure.

3. Like Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg surely has the mounting pressure of the trade deadline weighing on him, and the frustration of losing in Ottawa (and being on the ice for three Senators goals) got the best of him at the end of the game. That led to a 10-minute misconduct — the first of the season for the Hurricanes — but the Canes are still the NHL’s least penalized team (6:30 per game), and have just eight major penalties (six by Brad Malone).

Number To Know

24 — Hits by Carolina against the Sharks. Phil Di Giuseppe and Jordan Staal each finished with five as the Hurricanes asserted themselves against one of the bigger teams in the league. With their physical game established, the Canes then relied on their speed to set the pace and a constant net-front presence to figure out a previously hot Martin Jones.

Plus

Jordan Staal — The alternate captain took over the team scoring lead Thursday with his goal in Ottawa, then had an assist and tacked on an empty netter vs. the Sharks to give him 15 goals on the season. But more importantly, Staal and his linemates (Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil) continue to neutralize the opposition’s best players every night.

Minus

Eddie Lack — Lack allowed a soft goal on Ottawa’s second tally, letting Zack Smith beat him from a bad angle. While Carolina did come back and tie the game later in the period, the tally was the difference-making play in a tight outing. It also reopened the door for Cam Ward, who earned the win over the Sharks and after the game was declared Carolina’s No. 1 goalie down the stretch by coach Bill Peters.