The Hurricanes fell short of having a chance at a winning record on their road trip, falling 4-3 to the Kings. The loss makes them 1-3 four games into their five-game excursion. Carolina faces Phoenix Saturday before finally returning to Raleigh. Here are five observations from Wednesday's loss.
1. Eric Staal and Chad LaRose continue to create offensive- and neutral-zone turnovers, and they're leading to goals. LaRose's first-period goal evened the score at 1 and, given that Carolina was in the second half of back-to-back games, revitalized the Hurricanes.
2. Congratulations to Jeff Skinner, who got his first NHL goal the way you expected he would: skittering through a high-traffic area and using his amazing hand-eye coordination skills to whack in a backhand past Jonathan Bernier. His first career goal came three days shy of the seven-year anniversary of Staal's first NHL goal, which was a game-winner against the Bruins on Oct. 23, 2003. Like Staal, Skinner's goal came in the sixth game of his NHL career. Staal's first came on a one-timer of a pass from Jeff O'Neill, beating Andrew Raycroft less than two minutes into the game. But it held up as the game-winner in a 2-0 win, with Kevin Weekes getting the shutout for Carolina. Erik Cole had a team-high six shots that night and Skinner's goal was assisted by him — Cole is the only player, other than Staal, on the Canes in that 2003 game — and Anton Babchuk.3.Justin Peters first start of the season went well, but you can't help but think he wants back Andrei Loktionov's game-winner, which was shot from behind the goal line in the corner and hit Peters’ stick before ricocheting into the net for the deciding tally. The 27 shots by the Kings was the lowest for a Hurricanes opponent this year, and you can't help but think that having Cam Ward in net would've resulted in a victory, given how impressive he's been through five starts.
4. Carolina's power play went 0 for 3 and now stands at 11.1 percent — tied for 19th in the league. That's not as bad as the Kings, who also failed to score with the man-advantage and are now dead last at 5 percent, but the Hurricanes’ three goals in 27 chances is not going to cut it, especially with Southeast Division foes Florida and Washington standing as the only two teams yet to allow a shorthanded goal (8-8 and 25-25, respectively) and Tampa Bay near the top as well (90.9 percent).
5. Cole's collision with Drew Doughty — which resulted in the Kings' star defenseman leaving the game with an upper body injury — came well after the puck was away from the play. By the looks of it, the hit wasn't a case of Cole headhunting L.A.'s best player, but there's no denying that it was a late hit. The question is: Was Cole simply peeling off to head up ice and, with Doughty in the way, braced himself for the collision? Or did he see a chance to finish off a player who was in his path? You can decide for yourself below, but I'd say a fine will at least be levied, given the prominence of the player involved and that there was an injury. That makes it at least the equal of the Nick Foligno hit on Patrick Dwyer, which seemed more intentioned than the Cole hit but didn't result in an injury. One thing we do know: if anyone knows what a dirty play can do to your career, it's Cole. It's hard to believe he's out to purposely injure another player.