GDB R1G1 WRAP UP: FIRST STRIKE
(Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)
How’s that taste Lethbridge?! After years of waiting, your Hurricanes just won their first playoff game in a long long while. It was an entertaining game from beginning to end. These two teams don’t disappoint. If it’s any indication, this will be a good series.
This is our first ever playoff post-game here on Canes Domain! For those who are new, here’s how it works.
First, we break down the game story, how it all happened, why it happened, and we interject with some infographics. Next, we move into a few “goods” and “bads” from a Hurricanes perspective. Finally, we usually add some general thoughts on both teams and some concluding thoughts at the end.
After all that, it’s your turn! There’s a comments section. Please, if you have something to say about tonight’s game, drop a thought or two! Especially for the playoffs, I think we have a unique opportunity to turn this space into a fun hockey meeting place.
Let’s do it!
You couldn’t ask for a better start if you were the Hurricanes. Just minutes into the game Austin Wagner took a minor penalty and put the Canes on the PP. Babenko would throw the puck towards the net and, while it didn’t make it all the way, the play resulted with a scrum in the high slot. Millette pulled the puck out and backhanded it past Pats starter Tyler Brown for the big 1 – 0 lead.
After the Canes opened the scoring the Pats would recover nicely. They weren’t able to get goals (at least not initially), but they did take the play to Lethbridge for the next ten minutes or so. Chances on both ends, but Skinner was called on a few more times than Brown but was equal to the task. .
The Hurricanes would get a second crack on the PP when Zablocki took a hooking call at 12:32 of the 1st. To be honest, it was a pretty questionable call, but once again, the Hurricanes would score. Wong burst into the Pats zone with speed, took a shot, picked up his own rebound, circled the net then centred to a wide open Brayden Burke who made no mistake.
The refs continued to make calls after the 2 – 0 goal but from that point on they all went against the home team. Bellerive took the first penalty and the Canes PK was able to keep the Pats off the scoreboard. However, Babenko took a minor penalty seconds after the return to five on five, and not long after that, the Canes bench was assessed a minor for two many men.
The Pats five on three held the zone, moved the puck well, and was eventually rewarded with a goal. That’s how the period would end. Three goals, all scored via special teams, 2 – 1 after twenty.
Regina was the better team coming out of the first. By the halfway mark of the 2nd they had built up a 3 – 2 lead. First, Wagner broke in on a two on one rush and fired a bullet over Skinner glove. It was an incredible release. Just a few minutes later Andrew Nielsen was forced into taking a slashing penalty to thwart a Pats breakaway. Hobbs unloaded a cannon on a screened Skinner to put the road team up 3 – 2 and suck the life out of the building.
After the media timeout, the Hurricanes settled down and started taking the play to the Pats. The penalties kept on coming, and when Nielsen took another to disrupt a Canes 5 on 3, you could feel some exasperation from the home crowd. It turned out to be just what the Canes needed.
A huge defensive breakdown by the Pats left Carter Folk all alone with Brown. The 19-year old showed some silky mitts with a couple quick dekes before sliding the puck home to tie the game at 3. That’s how the period would end. It was a bi-polar frame. The Pats dominated the first half and the Canes the second. It seemed fitting that things were tied heading into the 3rd period.
Brayden Burke struck just over a minute into the 3rd to restore the Hurricanes lead. Austin Wagner tried a one-handed move to get passed Atwal at the Pats point and it resulted in a turnover. Burke was able to take advantage of the extra time and space.
The Pats got themselves into penalty trouble in the 3rd and it proved costly. Cory Millette would get his second of the night on the powerplay and it really seemed to deflate the Regina. Ten minutes later – Kord Pankewicz would really drive the nail home with his first of the night – another powerplay goal to give the home side a 6 – 3 advantage.
That’s how this game would end. Regina, after playing a strong opening 40, came unglued in the final frame and the Hurricanes powerplay propelled them to the series opening win.
- The team got off to a stellar start. The early Wagner penalty was exactly what Lethbridge needed and Millette made good on it. Getting the early goal had to have helped them settle in a little quicker.
- Cory Millette was great tonight. This is the sort of hockey that really suits his playing style. He’s a hard-nosed player who scores greasy goals in front of the net. He’s not flashy but he has finish and I felt like he played to his strengths.
- As it has been most of the season, the Hurricanes powerplay was great again tonight.
- Carter Folk!! Where did those dekes come from! Really nice goal for the 19 year old and huge for the team to tie things up heading into the 3rd period.
- Pankewicz’s neutral zone hit on Brooks in the 1st was pretty great.
- Credit Babenko for winning the puck battle along the boards and making a nice dish to Millette for his second of the night.
- Stuart Skinner was a difference maker. Sure he gave up three goals, but two of them were on the penalty kill (one a 5 on 3) and the other was a 2 on 1 rush. When I say “difference maker” I don’t mean he was perfect. What I mean is Skinner made saves that Brown didn’t. There were two or three crucial stops early in the third period (including a stunning 2 on 1 stop) that gave Lethbridge some buffer time to extend their lead and nurse it home. If Skinner doesn’t make even one of those, it’s a wildly different game.
- We saw a few players elevate their game tonight. A few names include Lindgren (faceoffs), Folk (goal), Pankewicz (goal + defensive stability), and Millette (two goals and key role playing). These are important players any night, but it seemed like a handful of guys were able to find an extra gear.
NOT SO GOOD
- After getting out to an early lead, the Hurricanes kinda took their foot off the gas and left the door open for Regina. The worst stretch for Lethbridge was the end of the first and first half of the 2nd period when the Pats stormed from behind to briefly take the lead.
- Taking too many penalties in combination with a somewhat lackluster penalty kill is a bad combination. To be fair, the refs were calling too many penalties in general, but a number of them were earned, including Nielsen’s slash and the blatant too many men situation in the 1st period. Both teams will need to watch the penalties as we saw some very effective powerplay movement for both the Pats and the Canes. Lethbridge needs to be better in this area but, at least for tonight, the Pats were worse.
- The Wagner and Hobbs goals both stemmed from blown coverage on rushes by Canes defenseman Arvin Atwal. In both cases, Atwal made a nice rush into the Pats zone, but didn’t receive adequate coverage from is forwards at the point. Lethbridge will need to tighten up their defensive awareness if they are going to green-light guys like Atwal to rush the zone.
THIS AND THAT
- Wagner’s release… incredible. His goal was a pure snipe. Not too many players can streak down the wing and straight up beat Stuart Skinner. That’s what he did. I thought he was great on the attack for most of the game. He did, however, get burnt pretty bad on the 4th Lethbridge goal trying to exit his own zone.
- When at 5 on 5, I really felt like the Pats played a good game. Unfortunately for them, they just took way too many bad penalties.
- That Hobbs goal was a bullet. I thought he was one of the Pats best defensemen for the full 60 minutes.
- The atmosphere tonight…. Well done Canes fans. Well done. It was so electric that the Pats play by play team repeatedly mentioned it throughout their broadcast. The city has fully embraced this Canes team and it’s fantastic.
- I’ve said this too many times this season but those Pats jerseys are sooooooo pretty.
This game was a rollercoaster ride. The atmosphere was electric, the Canes stormed out to an early lead, and everything seemed perfect! …Then the Pats stormed back, took the lead and evaporated the party vibes at the Enmax Centre all in one fell-swoop.
The game really hung in the balance heading into the 3rd period. Both teams had played stretches of good and bad hockey in the first forty and it had decided nothing. If anything, I actually felt like the Pats probably had a slight edge in chances and overall play prior to the third period.
Something happened in the second-period media timeout. From that point on, the Hurricanes slowly stole the game away. It was gradual at first, but by the time Burke scored the game-winner early in the 3rd, you could tell the Pats were in trouble. When Millette added to it at the 5:54 mark, I couldn’t help but believe Lethbridge would find a way to win the game.
Looking at this game as a whole, it really boiled down to undisciplined play by Regina coupled with one or two game-breaking saves by Skinner, and the as-advertised Hurricane powerplay making the Pats pay for every mistake. Those three facets were the pillars upon which this win was built.
The Pats impressed me – heck – even concerned me for stretches tonight. I didn’t hate their game! That is, until they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot in the final period. Say what you will about the refs, I truly believe the majority of those penalties were earned on behalf of Regina. When you take 7 minor penalties in the 3rd period alone, you can’t point fingers at the refs.
It wasn’t a perfect win, but it was the kind of win I think we will see more often than not in this series. Both teams had their chances but the game wasn’t a 9-8 run and gun offensive bonanza. It was an honest-to-goodness playoff hockey game where one team was more disciplined and it won them the game.
What did you think? Did I miss something? This is a place to share your thoughts Canes fans! Tell us and the readers what you saw/experienced tonight! Let’s turn this space into a meeting place for hockey fans. Leave a reply and maybe even reply to someone else’s thoughts… who knows. We might even all learn something together.