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About Last Night: Stars Victorious as Canes Rally Falls Short

Three goals in the last 20 minutes and change wasn’t enough to give Carolina any points.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Dallas Stars Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There nothing like a good third-period comeback, but there’s also no points in a third-period comeback if you can’t tie it up or pull off an unlikely win. Such was the case for the Hurricanes last night at American Airlines Center, where they rallied from a sluggish 4-0 deficit through nearly two periods to what can only be described as an “exciting loss” at 4-3.

So how was the hole dug early on? And how close did the Hurricanes come to filling it back up?

The first period was the only frame in which the Stars outshot the Hurricanes, and overall the chances were very good for Dallas. Quite a few were set up by being quicker in transition, including the opening goal off a 2-on-2 crash by Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn.

The Stars’ next goal was created on another full-ice rush, but it was heads up playmaking by Antoine Roussel and the will of Tyler Pitlick to crash the net hard that earned Dallas a 2-0 lead after the first period. Brock McGinn was able to dull the puck off the long shot from Dan Hamhuis, who received it on a no-play through the legs of Roussel, but when Slavin realized he’d turned his back on Pitlick, the chip shot was already played.

(Also, should Roussel get an assist for this even though he didn’t touch it? It just feels fair.)

The second period was typified by easy saves for Ben Bishop and compounding mistakes for Carolina. Early in the period, the Hurricanes would commit the gravest of all power play errors: forgetting that the man in the box will, in fact, exit the box. Tyler Seguin, fresh off a two-minute sit for slashing, sped out on to the ice for a breakaway after the Canes failed to recognize that the pass out of the zone was a breakaway, not a penalty kill.

Notice that Scott Darling remembered, however (see: “tap, tap, tap”).

Only a few minutes later, Noah Hanifin would learn the benefits of corralling an easy puck. A slow puck came to Hanifin near center ice, but he let it slip past and slide into the left corner of the Hurricanes defensive zone. There he met Roussel, the hardest-hitting of Stars enforcers, on a big forecheck, and Roussel found Pitlick in front of Darling for an easy wrist shot.

The Hurricanes had much to hang their heads about by the end of the second period: lack of speed, losing dozens of pucks to poke checks, losing battles along the board in the offensive zone. But it’s funny how one shot before the buzzer can turn an intermission from a mental burden into battle prep. Thanks to a timely turnover collected by Sebastian Aho, Jeff Skinner was able to shoot, rebound and score with :10 left before second intermission.

Derek Ryan told Mike Maniscalco after the second period that despite the 4-1 deficit, the Hurricanes could get back in it by playing “Hurricanes hockey.” Well, if Hurricanes hockey means “feed Skinner again and reap the benefits,“ they worked that to perfection.

Just over five minutes into the third, Hanifin threw a shot on goal that Bishop bobbled, allowing Skinner the chance to snag-and-sweep his way to a second goal on the night. Bishop argued Skinner’s stick interfered with his glove, but…like…that’s not really a thing, as you can see.

The Hurricanes continued to apply pressure, creating much better opportunities and outshooting the Stars once again, but it would take a little luck for Jordan Staal to tie up the game with under five minutes to go. As Hamhuis tried to follow Aho around the back of the Stars goal, his skate got stuck in the top of Bishop’s left blocker, dragging him outside of the crease and giving Staal an easy tip-in.

The Hurricanes continued to staff the net area in the remaining minutes, but even on the late power play, there were just too many Dallas bodies in front to have a good chance on goal.

Though it’s reassuring to see the Hurricanes battle back from a 4-0 deficit, it’s still discomforting to see the shot count high while the good scoring chances remain low, and how, even with their young defensemen, the Hurricanes looked to be dragging behind the Stars in the first two periods. But the Hurricanes will be back home on Tuesday, and maybe a little home crowd energy can give them a boost.

It’s also of note that with his two goals on the night, Jeff Skinner moved into sole possession of sixth place in the all-time points leaderboard for the Carolina Hurricanes with 336, moving past Ray Whitney and now eyeing Ron Francis at 354.

At this pace, it’s only a matter of months.

And to end on the lightest note possible, in case you missed it, this happened before the game.