An early lead for the Carolina Hurricanes seemed to portend a festive night for the locals, but the Philadelphia Flyers had other ideas. Behind two goals from Claude Giroux and three assists from Travis Konecny, the Flyers stormed back to take a 3-2 lead, then notched two more in the third period to take a 5-3 win in Raleigh, ending the Canes’ winning streak at four games.
The Good - A fast start
The Hurricanes have lately been doing a good job of jumping onto the scoreboard first in contests. Thursday night was no different, as Sebastian Aho was the beneficiary of solid work on the forecheck that led to a turnover and a terrific look in front.
The goal featured a textbook dump in and aggressive forecheck with Brett Pesce pinching down to nudge the puck to Teuvo Teravainen, before he centered it to a wide open Aho. While skating into the zone and creating plays on the rush is certainly something the Canes would prefer to do, establishing this level of forechecking early should lead to a bit more space at the blueline as games progress.
Nearly immediately after that tally, the Canes were given a power play opportunity, and they capitalized almost instantly. Andrei Svechnikov once again was right in the middle of the man advantage success, this time with the primary assist as he drew defenders towards the middle, giving space to Teravainen for a heavy wrister from the right circle.
Just like that, the Canes possessed an early 2-0 lead within the first five minutes of action. While you still have to play 55 more solid minutes (which Carolina did not do on Thursday night), that kind of early jolt will typically only lead to good things if you can replicate that kind of production in the early going.
The Bad - Special Teams hiccups
Following their early power play goal, the Hurricanes proceeded to effectively neutralize their early advantage with poor work on both special teams units. After the Flyers cut the lead to 2-1 behind the first goal of the night from Giroux, the Flyers man advantage was given an opportunity. The Canes penalty kill allowed easy passage of the puck from the sidewall and the point, all while the Flyers established a net front presence with two attackers. Ivan Provorov took advantage with a wrister from the point that Petr Mrazek never saw and evened the contest at 2.
Sometimes, against a good power play, you have to pick your poison as to what you are going to allow the opponent to have, but in this case the Canes simply provided the Flyers with a wealth of options as they operated in the offensive zone.
Moving forward with a tie contest, the Canes were presented a great opportunity to jump back on top as they were granted a power play early in the second period. After stalling a bit, they had a defensive zone faceoff with only eight seconds left on the power play. Teravainen took the draw, with Svechnikov to his left. Teravainen lost the draw cleanly, and Svechnikov and company all looked to break the zone quickly to create a last ditch scoring effort. Instead, Morgan Frost took the clean faceoff win and rifled a one-timer past Mrazek to take the lead 3-2.
Yielding the go-ahead goal on the power play is obviously a downer for any team, but as the game progressed the man advantage was also not able to cash in on any more of their opportunities for redemption. Finishing at one-for-five on the power play, the Canes were left at a disadvantage on special teams for the game, and ultimately on the final scoreboard.
The Ugly - Unstoppable top line
The Hurricanes have often prided themselves on their ability to neutralize top performers on the other side, particularly at home. Thursday night was a stark departure from that as Giroux and Konecny prospered greatly in all three periods.
The ability for that line, including Frost as well, to get the puck consistently behind the Canes was evident the entire night and provided the rare occasion in which the opposing team simply had their stars outshine the usually stout Canes checking and defense.
Giroux’s marker, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner, was just another example of the Flyers getting the puck deep into the Carolina zone, and creating a wealth of options for premium offensive opportunity. The result was a virtual tap-in goal from which the Canes could not recover.
Moral of the Story
The Flyers now are 2-0 against the Canes, which could become a factor in a tightly contested division race. Rod Brind’Amour will obviously be disappointed with squandering such a solid start, but the concern will mostly fall on the dominant effort from the top of the Flyers lineup and the ugliness on special teams. Mrazek was not excellent in net by any means, but his teammates gave him little chance on a number of the opportunities that slid past him on this night. The Canes will now look to regroup at home on Saturday.