The Carolina Hurricanes kicked off their five-game road trip and the remainder of their season with a 3-2 loss in Buffalo, putting the team in a precarious position with the trade deadline approaching and four playoff-bound teams remaining before they return to PNC Arena.
1. Carolina’s power play continues to be an embarassment. The Canes went 0-for-6 in a game when they desperately needed production with the man-advantage. When Kirk Muller was hired, he was considered the cure for Carolina’s power play woes. At 13.9 percent, the power play is the worst it's been since Carolina finished last in the NHL in 2003-04 at 10.6 percent.
2. Cam Ward played well enough in his first game in nearly two months, but he is a long way removed from being Ryan Miller’s equal. Miller proved that Wednesday, standing on his head to send Carolina to a loss in a game they desperately needed. As for Ward, the first goal he allowed is on him — a puck that hit his glove and trickled into the Canes net — but beyond that he played OK despite not seeing much action and allowing three goals on just 18 shots.
3. Carolina’s loss sets them up to be sellers at the deadline. While there are still needs — another center is the biggest — the Canes are now behind several teams for a playoff spot and, frankly, it's unlikely that one player is going change their fortunes. That's not to say Carolina couldn't make a push for the postseason, but they need to explore what they could get back in a trade for players like Ron Hainsey, Nathan Gerbe, Justin Peters and perhaps a few others. Unless Carolina really stumbles during this road trip, I doubt GM Jim Rutherford will go into full sell mode. But don't rule out a good-for-both trade like the one that sent Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to Ottawa in exchange for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves in 2008.
Number To Know
7 — Shots on goal for Jeff Skinner in just 15:49 of ice time, including just 10:49 at even strength.
Eric Staal — The captain scored the goal the Canes needed, tying the game right as a Buffalo power play expired and snapping Staal’s five-game goalless streak. Staal also won 13 of 22 faceoffs, improving his winning percentage to 52.1 percent on the season.
Manny Malhotra — Malhotra is on the Carolina roster to do two things: win faceoffs and shut down opposing scorers. Tuesday he lost six of 11 faceoffs and was a part of a group that watched Christian Ehrhoff cruise around the ice to score the game-winning goal in the final minute.