Greiss earned his third straight win over the Hurricanes, making at least 38 saves in each of the victories, as the Canes dropped a 2-1 decision to the Islanders in a Sunday afternoon snoozer at PNC Arena.
The Canes’ league-worst penalty kill wasted no time putting the home team in an early hole. Anders Lee’s opening goal came just nine seconds after Jordan Staal sat for a hooking penalty 3:30 into the game. Just like Friday against San Jose, the Hurricanes were skating in quicksand for most of the first period, unable to complete basic passes and looking generally lethargic from one end of the ice to the other.
But, again like Friday, a switch flipped in the locker room between the first and second periods, and the Canes came out buzzing to begin the middle frame. They took the first six shots of the second period, eventually tying the game on a rebound putback by Teuvo Teravainen.
Sebastian Aho took the initial shot which bounced off Greiss and right into the slot, extending his point and assists streak to eleven straight games and tying two team records. He now shares the longest point streak to start a season in team history with the man who drafted him, Ron Francis, and is alongside Eric Staal with the longest assist streak in club history.
It wouldn’t last, though. Justin Williams got a little overambitious on a backchecking attempt with 5:30 to go in the second, and allowed Ryan Pulock to turn around in the slot untouched and fire a slap shot past Petr Mrazek to put the visitors back on top despite being outshot by more than a two-to-one margin after 40 minutes: 31 shots for the Hurricanes to 14 for the Islanders, and Greiss’ 30 saves proving the difference.
The much-maligned Hurricanes power play nearly set up the tying goal a minute and a half into the third period, Dougie Hamilton’s attempt beating Greiss but clanging off the near goalpost. Mrazek then stoned Anthony Beauvillier on a partial breakaway, keeping it a one-goal game, but again the Hurricanes were unable to take advantage and spent increasing amounts of time inside their own defensive zone, relying more and more on Mrazek to keep them in reach of the Islanders.
As the game went deeper into the third period the Canes lost the spark that had given them life in the second, the few shots they took long-range attempts that were of little threat to Greiss, who now has allowed just two goals on the last 130 shots the Hurricanes have fired his way. It was his first win since opening night, naturally, and the Canes will be more than happy to not face the Islanders again until November 24.
They Said It
[Frustrating] was a good word for it. I felt like right from the start we were just a tad off, maybe. When we were good we still couldn't find the net. A couple breakdowns and...yeah, frustrating is a good word for it.
I don’t think we made him work as hard as the first game. But he came up big for them when he had to. We had to get a couple more quality looks at him, especially in the last half of the third period when we really needed to press, we didn’t get much.
You have to look at it - I look at it, anyway - a little differently. The pucks are going to go in at some point. If they aren’t generating chances, then I need to look at changing things up. I have to look at it again tonight - I didn’t feel like we got many chances, but then I just looked at the chances for and against, and we did have enough quality chances to win that game. At some point things are going to shake up. Is now the time? I’m not sure. We only gave up one goal five-on-five. That should be enough to win.
[On Svechnikov:] He’s still on a learning curve. He’s on the power play, he’s getting his regular shift. I tried to get some other guys some ice time too, so it moved around a little in the third, but yeah, he’s been fine. We’ll probably go through this for another year or two until we really get to see what he’s all about.
We’re playing hard hockey. Everyone is giving it what they can. When you don’t score it gets frustrating. You come out of a game like this and everyone is like ‘oh, you guys lost, you’re brutal’ and that’s not really the picture. If we get a bounce here or there, we hit a couple posts, those go in, we win and everyone’s going ‘great game’. You need to take a step back, look at for what it was, where can we get better. How bad was it? Not that bad. We kept their scoring chances down to a good number. Obviously there are areas to get better, but it’s not that bad.
Yes, we deserved better. Yes, we outshot them. But...did we? They did a great job clearing the front of the net. We didn’t have many second opportunities. Our power play needs to get us a goal. Certainly when we lose the special teams battle, it’s an uphill battle most of the game. On the power play, we’ve got to find a way to get one for us.
It’s not structural. It’s the players out there needing to make plays, get shots through and make it happen for us and create momentum. There’s no secret formula for a power play. We have to find a way to get one. Losing the special teams battle every night and trying to win games is tough.
They front a lot of shots - their D gets in front of us and tries to block a shot before it gets to the net. They did a good job of that, and hats off to them. We just need a little more, especially in games like this.
- Brind’Amour was a smidge less committal to keeping his groups together tonight, I thought, than he had been in the past. Chances are one thing, but if they aren’t going in - and, as Williams said, it isn’t a structural thing, although he was speaking specifically of the power play it’s applicable at even strength too - then it’s probably worth trying something else and seeing if the same structure with different components might yield different results.
- To be fair, the Islanders played a textbook Barry Trotz game both tonight and on opening night. Brind’Amour said that the Flyers played right into their hands yesterday in their trying to do too much, and the Hurricanes fell into the same trap. Trotz did some great work in implementing a structure to some notably untalented Predators teams back in the early 2000s, and this is right out of the same playbook.
- Now this is a stat: the only players to open the season with assists in eleven straight games? Sebastian Aho, Ken Linseman and Wayne Gretzky. The latter two got to 12 straight. That’s some company right there.
- Something tells me we’ll see a whole lot of power play work at practice tomorrow. Brind’Amour and Williams both said, in their own ways, that they need goals with the man advantage by any means necessary. The penalty kill was not terrible after the opening goal, although it could still use some tightening up. The power play, though, is another animal entirely.
- The Canes will practice tomorrow at 11 at Raleigh Center Ice before Tuesday’s visit from the Boston Bruins.