A quick start from Carolina, featuring a nice goal from Derek Ryan at the 69-second mark of period one, gave the road team an early edge, but a pair of St. Louis goals in the opening half of period two flipped the script for the Hurricanes.
A well-placed one-time rocket from Jay McClement (yes, that actually happened) tied the game 11:02 into the second period, then a tight-checking third period opened up with a timely powerplay goal from Jeff Skinner with 6:08 to go and then Ryan netted his second goal of the game and iced the game with an empty-netter.
There are a lot of good things that came out of last the victory, so let’s talk about last night.
The Ty Rattie Experience
Just a day after seeing his young St. Louis Blues career come to an end after being claimed off waivers by Ron Francis and the Hurricanes, 23-year-old forward Ty Rattie faced off against his old team and was put in a position to succeed opposite Jeff Skinner on Victor Rask’s line.
He saw 12:59 of ice time, all at even strength, on Thursday. It was a modest outing in terms of production as he put two shots on net, led all Carolina skaters with three hits and had a takeaway. It was a very even possession game, and Rattie almost posted an even corsi share as he was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and 12 shot attempts against.
With the exception of a few shot attempts, Rattie wasn’t overly noticeable, but that isn’t necessarily a knock on him. It was his first game with a new organization. Carolina will hope for a little more activity in the offensive end from him tonight in Chicago.
One thing appears to be certain, though; this isn't another Martin Frk situation. Rattie was more effective in that one game than Frk was at any point in his short time in Carolina.
A New Line Emerges
The addition of Rattie mixed up Carolina’s top-nine a bit. Rattie got slotted in on Rask’s line, which took Ryan out and put him onto Jordan Staal’s line on the opposite wing of Brock McGinn.
They were really good.
Derek Ryan bookended the game with goals, Jordan Staal put up one of his best efforts of the season and picked up two assists, including a nifty play to set up Ryan’s empty-netter in the third period, and Brock McGinn played his aggressive game and set up Ryan’s first goal on a great pass while falling to the ice along the boards in the first period.
The chemistry between Ryan and McGinn has been a year and a half in the making, dating back to their days in Charlotte, and it continues to translate well at the NHL level. It’s something Ryan has talked about often; they always seem to know where the other guy is on the ice.
Staal’s two-way efficiency complimented the duo well and the trio produced in an important road game.
If this line can continue to click and the Rask line can form some offensive chemistry, the Hurricanes will have a good looking top-nine with how well Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Lee Stempniak have played over the past three weeks.
Justin Faulk with a Strong Outing, Murphy... Not So Much...
The absence of Justin Faulk was a huge blow to the Hurricanes. The powerplay wasn’t clicking and the team sorely missed his ability to move the puck at even strength.
With Faulk in the lineup, this team just plays better and is more cohesive. He dominated on Thursday as he posted a game-high plus-eight shot attempt differential and logged the second-highest ice time among Carolina skaters.
Faulk’s return took a lot of ice time from Ryan Murphy, who struggled to hold off St. Louis’ offense and generate any offense for himself.
Murphy logged just 12:44 of ice time, was on the ice for St. Louis’ even-strength goal in the second period, and posted a team-low 30% corsi share.
On top of that, he was stripped of all of his minutes on the powerplay, the situation in which he is supposed to contribute the most.
The future might not be bright for Murphy. He’s struggled since returning to the lineup and his game in St. Louis didn’t do him any favors.
A Rematch with the Best in the West
The Hurricanes capped off the home portion of their 2016 schedule with a big 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on December 30, and now they’ll look to sweep the season series for the second consecutive season.
Cam Ward played well in St. Louis and was excellent against the Blackhawks in Raleigh. He’ll have to be good again as Chicago will be searching for revenge on home ice.