The Carolina Hurricanes sit atop the NHL standings thanks in large part to three wins beyond regulation. While NHL overtime can often be a coin flip, the Canes have executed well and earned their success. There have been three specific aspects of their overtime periods that have been most impressive.
Possession is by far the biggest asset in three on three hockey. It can be a factor right off the opening faceoff of overtime. Whichever team starts with the puck has the chance to establish their tempo and control the pace of the overtime frame. The Canes were able to win the draw and establish their game against both Tampa and Montreal.
Tampa really was never able to regain possession after losing the opening draw and Carolina, already a man up, dominated the overtime frame.
But against the Capitals, Washington won the battle for possession and was able to generate almost immediately.
That sequence ended with a Jordan Staal hooking minor giving the vaunted Caps’ scorers a chance at a four on three. That leads directly into another aspect of OT hockey...
The opposition is likely going to have grade-A chances in 3-on-3 sudden death overtime. It’s just the nature of the beast. Thus far, the Canes have done a sensational job of mitigating the opponents’ opportunities and surviving their offensive pushes.
Against the Caps it was all out desperation on the penalty kill. It wasn’t pretty, but James Reimer and Joel Edmundson did everything they could to survive the Washington attack.
Against Montreal an excellent Andrei Svechnikov backcheck helped to mitigate what could have been a Paul Byron scoring chance. Instead of allowing a clean breakaway, Svechnikov’s work means all Byron can do is attempt a redirect. Then Jaccob Slavin covers for Svechnikov and prevents a centering feed to the wide-open Max Domi.
It goes without saying that the good work possessing the puck and solid defending would prove fruitless without the ability to capitalize on their own offensive chances generated.
In the nation’s capital, a broken breakout creates a loose puck battle. Carolina wins the battle and Jake Gardiner beats his man up ice, generating a two on one before rifling a snap shot past Braden Holtby.
Against Tampa, it was another loose puck battle that creates the game winner. Andrei Svechnikov battles with Steven Stamkos and then Jordan Staal outmuscles last year’s Hart Trophy winner, Nikita Kucherov to spark another two on one.
The pass is on the money and Slavin fires home the winner on a perfectly placed one-timer.
While NHL overtime can often seem like a coin flip, the Canes are practicing good habits and have largely earned the results they have been seeing.