The Carolina Hurricanes are making a habit of putting video-game shot numbers up, with almost 150 in the past three games. This time, though, the Canes got the result they wanted from the shooting gallery.
Five nights after pouring 60 shots on the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-3 loss, history repeated itself in Carolina’s 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, taking 48 shots in the win. Derek Ryan’s third-period goal, batting a puck out of midair past Roberto Luongo, proved to be the difference, and Justin Williams added an empty-netter as the Canes got back to NHL .500 at 5-5-3 on the season.
Roland McKeown, in his PNC Arena debut, gave Bill Peters and company a real decision to make when Brett Pesce returns from a concussion soon. McKeown assisted on the Canes’ first two goals, and was by far the team’s most solid defenseman in all three zones playing alongside Noah Hanifin. Take the numbers off and you’d be hard-pressed to tell which one was the rookie and which was the third-year veteran.
McKeown’s performance will give the rookie blueliner a chance to make a big impression while Pesce’s out, similar to how the injury to James Wisniewski two seasons ago gave Pesce, and eventually Jaccob Slavin, his own break.
Luongo did his share of helping himself in the early minutes of the second period, robbing Jeff Skinner on a partial breakaway with a quick glove save that looked like the Luongo from the first Florida stint years ago. But the Hurricanes gave him plenty of help on their own. Three Canes whiffed on open nets in the first period, including one by Teuvo Teravainen under three minutes in, and Skinner failed to elevate the puck over Luongo’s pad with the goaltender down and out in the second.
At the other end, Scott Darling didn’t have much to do most of the night, if a 30-save performance can be described as “quiet”. Like many of the Canes, it was a workmanlike performance that wouldn’t jump out on a scoresheet but was just effective enough, and at the very least earned him a measure of retribution for a performance worthy of a win in Arizona on Saturday.
A record of 1-1-1 against three bottom-feeding teams isn’t what the Canes would have wanted out of this stretch, but at least the win stemmed the bleeding as the Canes prepare for a tough back to back beginning Friday in Columbus and finishing up back at PNC on Saturday when the Blackhawks come to town.
Notes and Quotes
Much closer to how we want to play. All four lines played really well. I thought the Kruger line was outstanding, their efforts and their ability to grind in the O-zone. I thought we got contributions from everyone. Roland McKeown ended up on the score sheet twice. Good night for the young guys.
I don’t think you add up those two goals, they’re not six feet from the net. Skinner’s in the blue paint, or just out. [Ryan’s] right on top of the blue paint. It’s no secret.
Big kill in the third period. That was huge in a tie game. That’s what happens with your special teams. They don’t always have to score, but they have to build momentum. They have to give you some energy on the bench and feel good about yourself.
I’m confident that we’re going to have a really good player if we do the right thing in the development process with Roland McKeown. If Pesce’s cleared, I’m playing him. But who knows? We’re talking about a concussion. Those are tough to gauge. Tomorrow’s a day off, that will do nothing but help him.
Eventually we’re going to start to score a little more consistently. I think there’s some quality in there. I don’t know how much quality, but there’s quantity for sure. I thought we had some better entries at 5-on-5 early in the game.
The whole team needs to get on a roll. It’s time to dig in. It’s desperation time. We’re well aware of that. Two good teams, Columbus and Chicago, we’re going to need everybody, including both goaltenders.
We need offense in here, and Hanifin’s a great partner. I thought he found a real quiet area in the O-zone on the first one. He gives it to me, makes a hell of a shot, and then McGinn’s there to tap it in.
The biggest thing is that you have to believe you can play in this league. When you get the opportunity you have to show what you have. I’m doing my best to do that. Who knows what will happen?
I thought I did my job in both games. Tonight, we’re trying to get a winning identity. The points are the icing on the cake, but I’m obviously here to win. Let’s get this team in the playoff race.
We talked about that this morning. The power play doesn’t necessarily need to score goals. It does eventually, but in the short term it needs to create momentum and get those chances. When it’s doing that the momentum continues to build our way. The big kill was huge. If you win the special teams battle you’re going to give yourself a good chance to win.
It definitely felt like a 1-1 game. It was one of those games where we were searching for that big goal. Winning teams are able to find that big goal. At home, tied, in the third, you have to make sure you get those points and get that big goal.
(On the whiffs in the first period): That’s a losing mentality. We don’t want to have that mentality. We don’t want to say “here we go again.” I’ve been on losing teams, and I’ve been on winning teams. The mental part comes into it. If you’re a winning team, you have that confidence and swagger. We all believe in here, and that was evident in the third.
One goal was making the team, then once you start getting comfortable, you can start playing your game. Probably the first four or five games, you don’t realize how much time you have, what kind of plays you can make. Starting with that game in Dallas I felt like I had more confidence with the puck. From there it’s been steady with a little bit of growth.
The last couple of games I’ve been playing against some better players, which is a different part of the game. The speed takes some adjustment, but once you’re here and get adjusted you learn to think that much faster.
I think [van Riemsdyk] and I have really good chemistry. We’re close buddies off the ice. Anytime you can play with Faulk, he makes his plays and makes the game really easy that way. [TVR] and I are just very comfortable with each other, playing with each other through camp and the first part of the season.
Once you get the greasy ones, the really nice ones go in. It’s good to get a couple of greasy ones. I think we played well in Arizona and couldn’t score. A game like this could turn the tide.
- This was Brock McGinn’s first NHL game against his older brother Jamie, so tally one up for the little brother on the chalkboard.
- Darling’s performance improves his career record to 14-5-1 agasint the Atlantic Division in 21 appearances.
- With 20 shots in the first period, it’s the third time in the last nine periods that the Canes have hit 20. That’s more 20-shot periods than they’ve had in their last three seasons combined. The Canes rank 3rd in shots for and 2nd in shots against, the only team in the NHL to be top-five in both categories.
- McKeown’s two-assist performance is the second by a Canes rookie defenseman this season, after Fleury put two helpers on the board in Toronto a couple of weeks ago.
- The Canes are off tomorrow. They’ll practice Thursday morning before boarding the plane to Columbus in the afternoon.
Rank the Performances
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