RALEIGH — The scoring woes of the Carolina Hurricanes, which had been largely missing in action for most of the past week, came back with a vengeance on Friday night at PNC Arena.
The Canes couldn’t solve Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, who made 33 saves, many of them of the highlight-reel variety, as they closed November with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Oddly, both teams had plenty to grouse over after a first period that saw the Hurricanes outshoot the Ducks 21-6. Anaheim gave up way too much in front of John Gibson, including back-to-back breakaways from Warren Foegele and Dougie Hamilton, but the goaltender bailed them out with big saves including one on a Jordan Martinook follow-up of Foegele’s shot.
But the Hurricanes had too many wasted chances, and it took nearly 19 minutes for them to cash in. Andrei Svechnikov salvaged the period for the Hurricanes, sniping a laser beam from the top of the right circle through a screen and past Gibson with 1:03 to go before the first intermission.
And there it stayed for the entirety of the second period, although the Ducks started getting their legs late after an opening ten minutes that saw just three combined shots. McElhinney stood tall, stoning Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano while getting help from Justin Faulk, who poke-checked away a nearly certain goal from Ondrej Kane in the slot.
Justin Faulk does good things pic.twitter.com/sWBiCIMHWZ— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) December 1, 2018
At the other end, four minutes into the third period, Gibson robbed Phil Di Giuseppe, flashing the glove on Di Giuseppe’s second beautiful play of the game, neither of which resulted in a red light going on behind the Ducks’ goal.
And the Canes nearly paid for their inability to solve Gibson, when Jaccob Slavin took a notably questionable interference penalty with nine minutes to go and Ryan Getzlaf fired a shot from the left point that McElhinney grazed with his glove just enough to send it into the crossbar.
The Canes played keepaway on a late power play courtesy of a Brian Gibbons penalty, his second of the game, and the home crowd grumbled about the Canes’ inability to salt the game away. Their fears were justified with 3:50 to go when Pontus Aberg batted a puck from up in the air over McElhinney’s shoulder and into the net, breaking the shutout and giving the Ducks some life.
And Gibson’s heroics were rewarded 1:15 in the extra session when Getzlaf beat McElhinney to send the Canes into a three-game western road trip with a sour taste in their mouths.
They Said It
[Gibson] made some nice saves. In the first period, in a perfect world we’d probably be up by a couple. We had a real nice start to the game. He made a couple of breakaway saves, especially Phil in the third, that would have put the game away. He was good. Our guy was good too. I think it was a great start for us, then it wasn’t great the rest of the way, but not bad. I didn't like our power play at the end. We had a chance to put it away and were a little tentative. They got a lucky goal to tie it up, and their skill player took over at the end.
I liked our start. The power play needed to get one. That puts it away. A couple of guys I wasn’t real happy with, they didn’t come to the party, but for the most part our D really battled in our end. Our goalie was really good tonight, and gave us a chance. It was going the way it should have gone, and unfortunately the weird bounce tied it up.
[Svechnikov] is getting better. That’s the learning curve. He comes off his guy, we have a mess up, and it’s in our net. He’ll learn. You have to keep being positive with him. He’s getting better and better.
[Getzlaf] is a skilled player. He can make things happen. Nice move to get it up and over my glove. Those three on three situations are tough. You have to stick to your guy, they made a great play and he made a great pass.
Obviously it was one of those nights we look back on and missed opportunities to put a team away more than anything. You’re up 1-0, had played a pretty solid game, and I think we had some good chances to put them away. We couldn’t find that next one, unfortunately.
[The PK] are doing a great job. They’re disrupting a lot of stuff right now and getting some key blocks. Obviously we had a big guy in the box to kill off, so it was another good job.
Sure, you can call it a gut punch. We didn’t necessarily have the game in the second and third period to win. The first period looked great, then, what, we come back with five shots in the second and spend a lot of time in our zone. We didn’t follow up that first period like we needed to.
It’s on us. We can’t sit here and look for excuses that just because the team changes it’s OK for us to not play our game. We weren't that great with the puck, had a lot of turnovers, didn’t break pucks out like we needed to.
[McElhinney] has been great. I don't think you can ask for anything more out of him. He’s done more than what you'd normally ask. We've made it tough on him a couple of times, and he’s been there and has played great. He goes back there and doesn't seem to get fazed by everything. It makes you feel a little more comfortable back there knowing he’s not going to worry too much when you mess up. It’s been nice to have him.
- You kind of got the sense watching that game that it was a “one of those games” game. The game-tying goal was a bizarre bounce that McElhinney said he saw go up in the air but didn’t notice Aberg coming in to bat it over his shoulder. That’s going to happen sometimes.
- Then, on Getzlaf’s winner, a really skilled player took advantage of blown coverage by a player who was nearly flawless defensively all night and a defensive miscue by a rookie. That’s going to happen from time to time. The bottom line is that the Canes got a point they probably didn't deserve out of a game against a Vezina finalist playing out of his mind.
- And that point is enough to actually put the Canes into third in the Metro for now, by points percentage over the Rangers. They were 6-4-3 in November, but given how the month started that probably is about as good as they could hope for. Remember, on November 10 they were 1-2-2,
- The Canes still haven’t lost a game in regulation when Svechnikov scores a goal (4-0-2) or records a point (7-0-2).
- What stands out to me about McElhinney is how calm he is in the net, and how little of his movement is wasted. He does enough to be where he needs to be, and conserves enough energy to react should a situation change. It’s refreshing, and Faulk’s quote is telling. He came about as close as a player can to admitting that teams play differently in front of different goaltenders without actually saying it.
- Your Dougie Shot Tracker update: 190 games and counting.
- The Canes practice tomorrow at Raleigh Center Ice before flying out to Los Angeles to start their three-game road trip.