The Carolina Hurricanes scoring drought ended, but the frustration created by a third consecutive defeat, this time at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, again left the Canes with a sour taste in their mouth. Falling behind early, and buried into a 4-0 hole near the midpoint of the game, the Canes were never able to settle into the game and now they will head to their last stop in California on Friday in Anaheim in hopes of salvaging at least one win on this road trip.
From the start, the Canes faced an uphill battle. Less than 20 seconds in, Jordan Staal lofted the puck into the seats for a Delay of Game penalty and Carolina was on to the Penalty Kill. The Canes continued their good work on that initial PK, but the Sharks capitalized on a bad bounce shortly after as Jaccob Slavin rimmed the puck around the boards and the puck popped out into the slot for Barclay Goodrow who sniped one past Curtis McElhinney for the first tally. Carolina was able to create a few decent chances, mostly with the combo of Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal, but were unable to capitalize, and once Carolina returned to the PK near the halfway mark of the period, the Sharks criss-crossed the puck in the offensive zone and eventually found Tomas Hertl in front of the net for a tap-in to push the advantage to 2-0.
For his part, McElhinney fought and made a handful of fabulous saves in the beginning of the second period to continue to keep his team in the game while the Canes offense continued to search for some scoring punch. Alas, after a key save from Martin Jones on a Lucas Wallmark, Timo Meier tipped home a point shot to extend the lead to 3-0, equivalent to the number of goals the Canes scored in their previous 3+ games combined. After a Carolina Powerplay, which resulted in two odd-man opportunities in the other direction, the Sharks struck again, this time with Joe Pavelski firing one that landed on the tape of Staal in front of his own net, and ended in the back of the net. Finally, after more than 140 minutes of action, the Canes struck again as Lucas Wallmark fired one past Jones with Justin Williams providing a solid screen in front on the Powerplay. At 4-1, the Canes at least began the steep climb as the end of the second period arrived.
The third period brought a more energized Canes attack, but the finish that has been so desperately needed still remained elusive. The Sharks provided the final marker, as Marcus Sorensen slipped one past McElhinney at 15:43 of the third period. As the game concluded with the Sharks maintaining their 5-1 lead, the Canes held a decided edge in shots. But don’t be fooled by that tally (Carolina outshot San Jose 40-23), as San Jose controlled the action almost exclusively, and were the better and more physical team for the entirety of the evening. Despite the score, McElhinney provided numerous high-end saves to keep the score from getting completely out of hand. Jones played back into his typical form for the Sharks, as he attempts to re-establish his position as one of the better netminders in the Western Conference. While Carolina was able to score for the first time out west on Wednesday, Rod Brind’Amour will have some tough decisions to make regarding his forward lines, as he attempts to find combinations that can generate not only shots, but scoring chances and ultimately goals. But with the results the Canes have been getting, perhaps it is becoming clear that the solutions may not be on the current roster.
The Canes will finish their trip in Anaheim on Friday as they wrap up their season series with the Ducks.