Despite building a 3-1 lead after one period, the Carolina Hurricanes fell in Colorado, 4-3, after two late goals tied, then won the game for the Avalanche.
1. As I mentioned following Carolina’s loss to the Kings, Nathan Gerbe was due for a goal. He finally got one against the Avalanche, scoring the Hurricanes’ second goal after a scramble in front of Reto Berra led to Gerbe slipping a rebound shot through Berra’s pads. For Gerbe, it was just his second goal of the season and first at even strength. For the team, it was important to get one of their top secondary scorers back in the goal column.
2. The Hurricanes seemed to come unglued when Brett Bellemore went down with an injury, which team reporter Chantel McCabe reports will keep him out seven to 10 days. With Bellemore out for the game, not only was Carolina down to five defenseman in the much-talked-about high altitude conditions of Denver, but it also led to jumbled pairings. The coaching staff split up Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera, trying to get one of their two best defensemen on the ice at all times. But Faulk — who has been the team’s best defensemen most nights of late — looked lost without his normal partner. Meanwhile, Ron Hainsey, who has played his best with Bellemore since coming to Carolina, was forced into a season-high 24:09 of ice time. It's not far-fetched to say the combination of more responsibility, mismatched pairings and the unique altitude conditions contributed to the defense, as a whole, looking tired and disorganized during Colorado’s rally.
3. But none of that may have mattered had Alexander Semin not been robbed of his first goal of the year by Calvin Pickard, who earned his first NHL win in relief of Berra by stopping all 17 shots he faced. Yes, Semin didn't a good whack on his rebound attempt, but the puck was going in nonetheless until Pickard stopped it with first his glove, then his stick. It was a tough break for both Semin and the Hurricanes, one that surely changed the outcome of the game.
Number To Know
0 — Penalties called on the Avalanche vs. Carolina, a surprising number seeing that through 21 games Colorado has averaged exactly four minor penalties (84) per game, which ranks them in the bottom third of the league. Carolina, on the other hand, has now taken 65 minors in 20 games but was called for four minors, further taxing Carolina’s understaffed defense.
Andrej Nestrasil — The Carolina newcomer led all Hurricanes forwards with eight shot attempts, including four on net and his first career NHL goal. Nestrasil was used only at even strength, but you could see Peters using the 6-3, 200-pound forward in front of the net and on the wing on the power play.
Brad Malone — In his return to Colorado, Malone had one standout moment and it was a bad one. With Carolina reeling, up just one goal, Malone took an illegal check to the head penalty that sent the Hurricanes out for another penalty kill. While the team was able to kill off the infraction, the game had, by then completely tilted in Colorado’s favor.