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Recap: Hurricanes’ mental miscues lead to 3-2 loss to Bruins

It was one that the home team will look back on as a clear missed opportunity - or opportunities.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH — The last time the Boston Bruins graced the PNC Arena ice, they scored three goals in less than a minute to swipe a victory from the shell-shocked Carolina Hurricanes. Tuesday night, the home team didn’t totally implode, but the result was similar.

Brad Marchand scored twice, ruining a banner night for Sebastian Aho and sending the Hurricanes onto a western road trip smarting from a 3-2 Bruins win in front of a crowd of 11,357, many of them wearing black and gold jerseys.

In a change from Sunday’s tiresome exhibition against the Islanders, the Hurricanes came out and imposed their will on the game early and often. An early tripping penalty to Jordan Staal was killed, and the teams traded chances up and down the ice, with the only goal coming on a Hurricanes power play with 2:06 to go in the period.

Predictably, it involved Sebastian Aho.

The star center’s point and assist streaks reached 12 games to start the season with the primary assist on Micheal Ferland’s seventh goal of the year, a pool-cue jab that slowly rolled past Jaroslav Halak and into the net, withstanding a Bruins challenge for goalie interference. Aho now sits atop the Hurricanes’ all-time franchise list for consecutive games with a point to start the season, and passed Eric Staal with assists in twelve straight, also a record.

We interrupt this recap to note that Jaccob Slavin took a slashing penalty a minute into the second period, his first penalty since February 18 of last season. The Canes killed the penalty. That is all.

Scott Darling, seeing his first regular-season action after returning from a preseason lower-body injury, was counted on to keep the Canes in the game, and for most of the second period he did just that.

But he couldn’t hold the fort forever. On a Boston power play, David Pastrnak scored his 11th of the season, tying for the league lead, on a shallow-angle shot that Darling initially got his pad on but snuck over it and just crossed the goal line.

The Canes’ much-maligned power play earned one back with a Dougie Hamilton bomb off a Staal faceoff win with 1:30 to go in the second, his second goal in seven career games against his former club. But the Bruins came back just over a minute later to tie the game again, Brad Marchand’s wrister off the rush and a perfect Patrice Bergeron pass evening it up at two apiece heading into the second intermission.

And it was Marchand again who gave the Bruins their first lead of the game 5:30 into the third period. Forcing a turnover just inside the Carolina blue line, the speedy pest took off, outskating Justin Williams and drawing Darling out of position to set up an easy wraparound goal.

Slowly, the Bruins started squeezing the life out of the game with a relentless forecheck that wore the Canes down - at least temporarily. Hamilton did his best to set the Canes up for a tying goal, his shot with eight minutes left slowed but not stopped by Jaroslav Halak and just out of Aho’s diving reach, and the Canes caught a brief second wind.

But just as quickly as it appeared, it evaporated. Rod Brind’Amour pulled Darling with 2:19 to go, and despite nearly a full power play with the extra attacker, the Canes were unable to convert, smarting from a loss that could have easily gone the other way but instead ended with Andrei Svechnikov heading to the bench after taking a high stick from his teammate, a missed opportunity that drops the Canes back to a single game over .500.

They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

At the end of the second, we made a bad decision on a change. We took a breath, and - give Bergeron a lot of credit, he came back, saved a goal, then zipped it up and they get a goal. We have got to learn that you can’t take a breath on the ice. That’s what happened, and to me that’s what cost us the game. You have to learn from it and just keep moving forward.

I thought [Darling] was fine. He made some real big saves, especially when we had some breakdowns. They had a couple of shorthanded chances, and he held us in there. We have to find a way to score some more goals.

I thought the penalty kill was really good. We had two or three breakaways shorthanded, and again, the margins are tight here - we’re right there, but it can go either way. Right now it’s going the other way. A mistake here or there is costing us games, versus we have a play that can put us ahead and put the game in our favor. The hard part is that guys have really played well, and our record doesn’t reflect the level of our play. That's hard to sell to the guys, keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll get some goals. The chances are there, we just have to stick with it, get rid of those mistakes where we take those little breaths. That’s what’s killing us.

I like the way that the lines are playing. I like the flow of it. For the most part we put Jordan’s line against Bergeron’s line, and 5-on-5 I felt like it was a good match. We certainly didn’t get outplayed; Marchand made a world-class play, and that’s what those kinds of players do. We’ll probably look at maybe doing something, but you usually change lines to create chances, to create offense because you’re going stale. I know we aren’t scoring, but I do’nt see it as an offensive drought as far as creating opportunities.

I’m not happy where we’re at, for sure. Nobody’s going to be happy with the record. I’m happy with the level of compete. I’m happy with a lot of things. But at the end of the day we’re here to win hockey games, so we have to find a way to get over that hump. Even looking back in years past, you’d sit in the coaches’ office a lot and say ‘how did we lose that game’? That’s kind of what’s happening here. We need to nip that in the bud right now and figure out ways to win.

Scott Darling:

I thought we played a good game. They’re a good team, but it’s tough to lose that one. I felt great. I’d like a second chance at the first goal, but other than that a close game and you’re disappointed with the outcome.

I’ve been skating for weeks, so it’s not like I missed half the year or anything. In my career I’m used to not playing for weeks at a time, so it’s all good.

We’re definitely a tighter group, so we’re playing harder for each other. We threw the kitchen sink at them, and Halak played well. We just have to find a way.

Dougie Hamilton:

We’re working away at [the power play], and to get rewarded on it is nice. Too bad it came when we didn’t have any 5-on-5 goals. Hopefully it will be better next game, both with 5-on-5 goals and power play goals.

We can still work on stuff (at 5-on-5). We’re shooting a lot; maybe we have to make an extra pass to beat these goalies. We had some chances on breakaways, hit a couple of posts, but that’s just the way it goes. Bergeron made a great play on the backcheck, they go down and score, it swings that quick. That’s hockey. We just couldn’t score again.

Game Notes

  • Frankly, the Canes were beaten by a better team tonight. Did they outshoot the Bruins? Yeah, they did, and probably deserved better (as Hamilton said, they hit two posts tonight). But great players make great plays, and the Bruins have two: Bergeron, who set up Marchand’s first with a glorious play, and Marchand himself who simply outskated Justin Williams on the game-winner.
  • To say nothing of Aho. When the Canes got their brief second wind, he had Teuvo Teravainen set up and generated a rebound that he nearly scored on himself. He’s sharing records now with Wayne freaking Gretzky, for heaven’s sake. Just hand over the blank check to his agent and get him signed forthwith.
  • I’m pretty sure we’ll see some changes to the lineup in Arizona on Friday. Haydn Fleury will be coming back up as the seventh defenseman for the trip, but I don’t think anyone will sit on the back end necessarily.
  • Up front, though, it seems unlikely that the captain will be demoted in favor of a rookie twelve games into the season, but Andrei Svechnikov certainly played with purpose tonight and earned a few extra shifts. He played 13 minutes tonight, more than he’s seen recently, and the vast majority of that at even strength.
  • Not a knock on Warren Foegele at all, but I wonder if he isn’t the guy to swap down to the third line. He and Jordan Martinook are good killing penalties together; maybe they could create something at even strength too?
  • From erstwhile CC contributor Cory Lavalette:
  • The Canes are off tomorrow, back to practice on Thursday before flying off to lovely Phoenix in the afternoon.