Jeff Skinner, P.K. SubbanJeff Skinner’s second goal of the game proved to be the winner as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the Canadiens 3-2 in game that pitted the Eastern Conference’s first and last placed teams. Canadiens rookie Daniel Carr scored on his first NHL shift and first shot on goal early in the first period and the Canadiens didn’t trail in the game until Skinner’s game winner at 12:28 of the third period. The other Hurricanes goal was scored by Joakim Nordstrom. Sven Andrighetto got the other Canadiens goal.

The Canadiens outshot the Hurricanes 38-29. The NHL announced three stars were Skinner, Andrej Nestrasil (2 assists) and goaltender Cam Ward.

Adding It Up –

Outworked – There was a time in NHL history when a first place team was playing cellar dwellers that they could take a night off and still win the game. Those days are gone. The gap between a winning and losing NHL team is very narrow. The Canadiens were out-hustled in their own end by a team that was desperate to get a win. Mix in a strong goaltending performance and we have the recipe for a loss. It is just the second time this season the Canadiens have suffered back to back losses.

Shaky – Suddenly Mike Condon has started to give up rebounds. There were far too many in this game and the second and third goals were the result of his failure to control shots. Both the second and third goals were the result of loose pucks around the net. There was a feeling before this game that the five-hole was Condon’s weakness. Rebounds were his problem in this game.  While Condon may have had some issues, he also made what may have been the save of the month on Eric Staal midway through the third period when the game was still tied at 2-2.   .

1 carolina carr goalGlittering Debut – Anyone who saw Daniel Carr last season in the AHL would hardly be surprised at his first NHL game. Carr, en route to leading all rookie scorers in the AHL, showed a natural ability to find open ice. He scored on his first NHL shot on goal and in his first shift – a quick wraparound move that caught Cam Ward still moving. Playing on the fourth line he had three more scoring chances and the line in his first NHL game was 5 shot attempts, three of them on goal along with a takeaway and a blocked shot.

The Lineup Shuffle – Injuries have forced Michel Therrien into making some structural moves. All four lines are in flux. The Galchenyuk line keeps plugging along with Andrighetto on the right side. That can’t be said for the Plekanec and Desharnais lines. Back with David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty doesn’t seem to be getting the puck in the high percentage areas he was when Plekanec was his centre. Seven of Pacioretty’s eleven shots were on goal but I can’t remember one that really tested Ward. In the late stages of the game Therrien had Pacioretty with Galchenyuk and Andrighetto for three shifts. That might be worth a try next game. But that would mean taking Eller off the line which is not the best idea.

1 carolina carrAlso Worth Mentioning

….The defense pairing of Tom Gilbert and Alexei Emelin recorded nine of the 13 Canadiens blocked shots. Gilbert blocked five of them.

….Thomas Fleischmann benefited from having Plekanec as his centre. He finished with five shots on goal.

….Carolina out hit the Canadiens 39-18. Paul Byron and Alexei Emelin each posted 3 hits for Montreal.

….How quickly can the Hurricanes be moved to Quebec City? The NHL’s top team could only bring 10,687 fans to the PNC Arena Saturday night.

Moving On – The Canadiens now get a few days off to work on some things. Their next game will be at home against Boston on Wednesday followed by the Red Wings in Detroit on Thursday.