Coming off of an abysmal performance in Colorado against the Avalanche on Thursday night, the struggling 4-5-2 Hurricanes needed a big effort to get back in the win column. Fortunately for them, tonight’s opponent was the 1-12-1 Arizona Coyotes, who after generating some buzz with some impressive offseason roster moves, have fallen flat on their faces right out of the gate.
With Roland McKeown making his NHL debut on this night, the rookie defenseman had a fantastic first shift. Sebastian Aho found McKeown in the slot from behind the net, but Raanta stood tall and turned aside the former second round pick’s bid at his first career goal.
That shot came on a dominant shift for the newly formed third line of Aho, Marcus Kruger, and Josh Jooris. That shift was part of the effort that saw the Canes post the first five shots on goal of the game.
The Hurricanes appeared early on to be playing the aggressive, tough-to-play-against brand of hockey that they’ve been trying to establish.
McKeown’s debut took a slight negative turn, though, as he took the first penalty in his career when he shoved Zac Rinaldo (still in the league) into Scott Darling for an interference penalty.
Carolina killed off the infraction without much in the way of serious scoring threats from Arizona, but the rest of the period saw the Hurricanes unable to re-establish themselves in the offensive zone.
With the Hurricanes hemmed in for essentially the duration of the period and the Coyotes beginning to find their grove and apply pressure, Darling came up huge to keep the score tied at zero. A glove snare off a booming shot off the stick of Clayton Keller stood out as particularly impressive.
At the end of the first, Darling had picked up his teammates and the scoreboard remained blank with the Coyotes holding an 11-9 advantage in terms of shots on goal.
In the second, the Hurricanes picked up right where they left off in the lackluster finish to the first period. The Coyotes were dominant, and the Hurricanes looked like they were defeated after their initial first period push didn’t generate an early lead.
They did have one prime opportunity in the second though, as Jeff Skinner was hampered on his way to the goal for a breakaway opportunity. A penalty shot was called, but Skinner was tired as the opportunity occurred toward the end of his shift. That showed on the penalty shot attempt, as he walked in and whistled a shot wide of goaltender Antti Raanta.
Disaster struck shortly after as Justin Faulk was unable to locate a pass that handcuffed him in his own zone. After getting spun around, a Coyote found the loose puck, took it toward, the net, and centered it to Keller. The young rookie had no trouble burying the pass for an easy 10th goal of his career.
The second period went on with the Hurricanes beginning to generate more chances. However, most of those were of the low-quality variety, and Raanta didn’t really face a serious threat for the rest of the period.
As the Hurricanes pressed for an equalizer at the beginning of the third, Coyotes winger Brendan Perlini was whistled for a penalty to give Carolina a golden opportunity to tie the game.
The power play continued to sputter, though, as Faulk had a shot blocked, McGinn cleared the zone for the Coyotes, Lindholm turned the puck over to a guy two feet in front of him, and Teravainen rang the post on a shot that was lucky to get through the one time they posed even a remote threat to Raanta and Arizona’s lead.
Darling was tested shortly after the putrid power play on a wrap chance, but he came up big to keep the lead to one.
After some more uninspiring attempts to tie the game, the Hurricanes finally found their way as Sebastian Aho won a battle down low, took the puck, and zinged it over to a wide open Jordan Staal who made no mistake as the game hit its waning moments.
In the newly tied game, neither team seemed overly eager to try to win the game in regulation. Nobody did, so we went to overtime in this one. Shots on goal for regulation time ended with Carolina holding a 31-22 advantage. That tilted as the game went on with Arizona protecting a lead, but Darling made some big saves that kept that lead at one and ultimately earned the team a point.
The ‘Canes were the more threatening team as the overtime began, as Jordan Staal nearly ended the game six seconds into the extra frame off of a power move after winning the initial face-off to an open area.
Things then took a scary turn as Derek Ryan collided with Antti Raanta after he deflected an errant Coyote pass back into their zone. Raanta looked dazed after he got up, but chose to stay in the game.
Jaccob Slavin showed off his deceptive speed on a couple off odd-man rushes with Elias Lindholm, but neither of those opportunities led to goals. In fact, none of the opportunities in this overtime period led to goals, and so the game went to a shootout.
Keller led off the shootout for the Coyotes with a goal, and Slavin was unable to answer for the Hurricanes. Oliver Ekman-Larsson went next for the Coyotes, and he was denied by the stick of Darling. Next up for the Hurricanes was Brock McGinn, and he scored to level the shootout at one. In the three-spot for Arizona was Derek Stepan, who went to his patented backhand swing move which beat Darling for a 2-1 edge. It was then up to Derek Ryan to keep the game going, but he was denied.
The loss was the Hurricanes fourth straight and their sixth of the past seven games. They’ll look to right the ship back home on Tuesday night as the Florida Panthers pay a visit to Raleigh.
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