RALEIGH — There was a buzz coming into Tuesday’s game as Micheal Ferland was slated to draw back into the Carolina Hurricanes’ lineup after missing four games with a concussion. His return lasted no longer than a few shifts as he exited the game midway through the first period. And he was sorely missed as the Hurricanes fought to keep it close in the first two periods but were ultimately no match for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ exceptional speed and skill in an ugly 4-1 loss.
The Canes registered just three shots on goal through the first ten minutes of the game. The Maple Leafs would tally 12 in the same time frame, the best of which came on a shot from Andreas Johnsson off of a back door feed that Petr Mrazek was able to get across on and save a goal. But the Leafs would strike a few minutes later as play broke down in front of the net and Tyler Ennis found himself on the door step with an open net.
Calvin de Haan took a stick in the face from William Nylander late in the first period. He crashed to the ice and immediately skated off leaving a trail of blood. The fallout double minor penalty was uninspiring (shocker). The Canes went into the first intermission down by a score of 1-0.
Ferland disappeared from the bench sometime in the first period and it was later announced that he wouldn’t be returning to the game with an upper-body injury. Let’s hope that he’s OK.
de Haan was back on the ice for the second period sporting stitches between his eye and his eyebrow, indicating that his injury was a very close call. The Canes didn’t look much sharper in the first half of the second, and the Leafs got close to stretching their lead to two goals after a puck glanced off the inside of Mrazek’s post. Ten minutes into the period, a Dougie Hamilton stick check and a bit of embellishment from Morgan Rielly resulted in a Leafs power play that Carolina impressively killed off with momentum that they leveraged into a power play of their own soon after.
This time the Canes delivered as Justin Williams received a feed from Sebastian Aho with a lot of speed and beat Frederik Andersen to the high glove side with a pretty shot to tie it at 1-1.
But the Leafs answered quickly. Just a minute later Andreas Johnsson received his second perfect cross crease pass and made no mistake this time as he put it through Mrazek’s wickets. The Canes would earn a power play right before the buzzer after Nylander took his second minor (the first was a double minor) of the night. They went into the room down 2-1.
The Canes started the third with a minute and a half remaining on the man advantage but it was inconsequential. Just under six minutes into the frame Nylander came flying into the zone on the wing and sauced a pass across the slot to an anticipating Patrick Marleau. He deposited it into the back of the net to make it 3-1. Soon thereafter the flood gates fully opened as Mitch Marner wrapped the net found John Tavares in the slot who buried it with no trouble. From there, the Leafs cruised home to an easy 4-1 win.
On compete level:
“Playing one of the best offensive teams out there, we needed everyone on board. We didn’t have to play great, but everyone needed to play a good game and I don’t think we got that.”
On Ferland’s early exit from the game:
“He just didn’t feel right, so yeah. You know obviously right away when players say that, they’re out. I can’t tell you how long [he’ll be out].”
On getting to the net:
“They played a better game for sure early on. We actually didn’t do what we wanted to do which was get more pucks towards the net. I thought we were trying to be cute a lot of times. There were four or five chances in the first period that we were right in the slot and passed it away. Even on the power play, we were right there and just tried to make the extra pass, that’s just not our game. We weren’t playing our game early, and we always want to get to the net more.”
On Dougie Hamilton:
Well he’s got to be better. There’s no question in my opinion. I think he knows it, we’ve talked about it. He’s supposed to be one of our best defensemen and we expect more. Not offensively, to me he’s gonna make those plays and he’s gonna create offense. He hasn’t had any luck at all offensively, he’s had some real good looks this year and nothing’s gone in for him, but he needs to play hard away from the puck too and be better because right now our margin is tight and we know that we can’t make four mistakes because we’re not going to outscore them.
- This was a brutal one to watch. The Leafs thoroughly dominated the majority of the game and the Canes could only hold on for so long.
- We assumed that Ferland’s early exit was concussion related and Brind’Amour confirmed that, indicating that he wasn’t feeling right. At the moment there is no timetable for his return. The team sorely missed his energy tonight against a tough adversary.
- Petr Mrazek will own an ugly stat line tonight, but he played a pretty good game. All four goals were a result of defensive breakdown and this outcome could have been a lot uglier if he didn’t make a few big saves.