RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes tested Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller early and often when the two teams faced off at PNC Arena on Friday.
Miller made 28 saves and recorded his fifth shutout of the season as Vancouver blanked the Hurricanes 3-0, while Carolina goaltender Cam Ward came out on the losing end of it.
“I think they built a game, similar to what Colorado did the other night in here,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.
“That’s typically what happens on a back-to-back. You don’t start as well as you like, but you build a game, you find your legs and you dig in. So, that’s what they did and I don’t think we stayed with it well enough. We weren’t quite hungry enough in the hard areas of the game. I didn’t think we competed hard; as hard as we needed to be to be successful.”
Even with three total power play opportunities, including two in the third period, the Hurricanes couldn’t beat Miller in the two teams’ final meeting of the season.
Going back to their first game against one another in Vancouver on Oct. 28, the netminder had earned his 300th NHL win against Carolina by a score of 4-1.
Fast forward to January 16th, and it was much of the same for the Hurricanes against the Canucks with the six-foot-two-inch keeper in net.
Although Vancouver was outshot 12-4 during the first period, Miller was impenetrable.
Why would he be, he was hot and coming off a 4-0 shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers the night before.
While Miller denied every scoring attempt put his way, Ward was not as fortunate.
Tip plays off the defense gave Derek Dorsett, Shawn Matthias, and Alex Burrows clear opportunities to put the puck past Ward – and they all did so in a span of 10 minutes during the second period.
Ward didn’t make the stops he needed to make to keep Carolina close, but then again, neither did the team in front of him.
“We made too many mistakes,” Peters said.
“We turned the puck over way too many times – way too many times.”
At the other end, with Carolina trailing 1-0 at the time, a misplay with the puck caught Miller out of the net and could have changed the game’s course.
But it didn’t.
Riley Nash missed a prime opportunity to put the Hurricanes on the board with a shot on an open net.
He missed it.
That’s what happens to good goaltenders – they get the bounces and misses – and Miller got his as Nash’s shot attempt flew past the net.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Nash said.
“The puck was rollin’ along. Just got a stick on it, tried to just settle it as much as possible, and kind of whack it in the general direction.”
After the second period, the Hurricanes trailed 3-0.
The Canucks had scored at a 33-percent success rate – taking only nine shots to establish a substantial challenge that the home team never overcame.
Ward didn’t return for the third period as Anton Khudobin started in his place and finished the final 20 minutes with no goals scored against on four shots.
At the other end, nothing changed as far as Miller was concerned – he just continued to make saves.
“There’s obviously a difference there,” Peters said of the vastly different goaltending performances in the game.
“Their guy got into a rhythm, back-to-back nights, back-to-back shutouts. You gotta’ tip your hat to him, but I think we could have made it quite a bit harder.”
Carolina has two games remaining before the All-Star break – at Ottawa on Saturday and at Toronto on Monday.
According to captain Eric Staal, the team has to play better.
“I think it’s important for us tomorrow to show a little more fight, a little more response and be ready to play in Ottawa,” Staal said.
“I think tonight was tough sleddin’, but we gotta’ find a way in those ugly games. In those tight-checking games, gotta’ find a way to elevate and make some plays. We didn’t do a good enough job tonight.”
Notes: Carolina was outmuscled by the Canucks who outhit them by a 30-17 margin…Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk, the team’s representative for the upcoming All-Star Game in Columbus, involved in all three Vancouver goals, finishing with a minus-3 rating…The Hurricanes dominated faceoffs, winning 34 of 54 (63%) draws…Forward Jeff Skinner caught an edge early in the second period and tumbled into the boards shoulder and head first. He got up quickly on his own and was summoned off the ice by trainer Pete Friesen to get checked out. He returned to the bench and continued to play. Peters stated that it looked worse than what it was.