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About Last Night: Let Me Count The Ways

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A bad night from Ward and the D-men, plus another conversation about many shots with few goals.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Four goals. Forty-seven shots. No points.

(Dear God, forgive me for all the times I complained about losing in overtime. I would much rather have the point.)

Carolina earned its “Cardiac Canes” moniker with a heart-pounding, empty-net shootaround in the last few minutes of play, down 5-4, but couldn’t convert and made it two home losses in a row.

This game was especially rough because it felt like the Canes lost in all three periods, though by very different definitions each time. They had all the chances in the first period and Frederik Andersen decided to become the prototype for a perfect goalie. The second period was just Armageddon. Then the third period became the great rally that fell short thanks to a questionable penalty that set up the game-winning goal.

And if I have to go back to writing about times we nearly doubled the opposing team in shots yet lost, I might start doubling my own intake of shots, if you know what I mean.

Hey, here’s an infuriating quantification of that sentiment: the Hurricanes are second in the league in shots attempted per game played (35.9) and second-to-last in shots allowed per game played (28.9).

Here’s another one: the Canes lead the league in shot differential (+125), whereas the league-worst in this stat is the Anaheim Ducks (-143). Yet they have one more point in the standings on the season.

See, numbers can hurt you badly!

Anyways, back to the game at hand. After a first period highlighted by great passing and shot creation being thwarted by clutch blocking and solid goalie play, the first goal by the Maple Leafs, less than a minute into the second period, nearly made me pull my hair out.

As Zach Gardiner skates towards the trapezoid, Cam Ward says, simultaneously, “I’ve got this” and “I have commitment issues.” Yes, criticize Faulk for not getting set better against Hyman or lifting his stick, but the passing lane Ward creates with his bold move is too much.

Though I’d argue none of the other three goals he allowed were this bad, it’s not the kind of performance Hurricanes fans wanted from their starter-turned-backup given what Darling allowed against the Rangers a few days ago. The Hurricanes will take on the defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators to finish off the homestand this weekend, an opponent with scoring options spread all around. That’s not fun to think about given the current goaltending performance.

I guess it wasn’t all bad, though. There were some improvements to be seen from Carolina.

Noah Hanifin won our Rank ‘Em yesterday, and for good reason. Despite being on the ice for only 15:53, he earned two points, including a sharpshooter’s goal to cut the lead to one with four minutes and change left to play. On a night of defensive lackluster (both defensemen and goalie play), Hanifin was a high note.

I thought that after his healthy scratch stint, consistent Rank ‘Em bottom feeder Victor Rask showed the ability to create much better chances, including three fair chances in the first period. The biggest complaint is his lack of goal scoring, which continued last night, but at least he came back from the bench with a presence (I mean, some nights I actually look at the box score after the game and wonder, “Do I remember seeing Rask on the ice?”)

And did anyone else love watch Skinner play with fire after the bogus goalie interference penalty?

Hopefully the Canes will take this loss and say, “Man, wouldn’t it be good to score super early,” and then do that. I think that’s a great strategy against the Predators, who also have a solid goalie in Pekka Rinne. Now, we wait and see.