For the first 58-plus minutes, the Carolina Hurricanes looked dead in the water, only putting one puck past Keith Kinkaid that was deflected off a New Jersey Devils’ defenseman in front. But then, with a minute left and Cam Ward pulled for the sixth attacker, Jeff Skinner pulled the Hurricanes’ flatlining playoff hopes off of life support.
The Hurricanes went to overtime and earned a crucial point, but fell on Taylor Hall’s rebound goal after Ward lost track of the puck with 22.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lose 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils on Military Appreciation Day at PNC Arena.
Both teams had played the night before, but you wouldn’t have known it from the looks of things. The Canes were timid, slow to loose pucks, lax defensively, and looking every part of a deer in the headlight glare of meaningful February hockey. The one goal they scored at 5-on-5 was on an attempted pass, Teravainen’s centering try knocked into the Devils’ net by Sami Vatanen. With both Vatanen and Andy Greene in front of the net it was the most traffic Kinkaid saw all night, because the Canes certainly weren’t parking anyone outside the blue paint.
Nico Hischier scored his second goal in as many games against the Hurricanes to open the scoring midway through the first period, taking a stretch pass from Vatanen on a power play and wiring a laser over Ward’s glove. After Teravainen tied the game, the Devils came right back and cashed in on a 3-on-1 with John Moore coming out of the penalty box. Moore collected an errant Derek Ryan pass and went off to the races, feeding Pavel Zacha for the go-ahead goal.
The Canes, up until the scoring play to tie it at the end of the third, looked pretty much as they did in the previous two games. Passes to no one that turned into odd-man rushes, whiffs on clearing attempts, shying away from contact, you name it. Someone below the press box yelled “Come on, let’s care!” about halfway through the third period, and you have to think he wasn’t the only one in the building possessing that sentiment. Skinner was somehow called for interference while being high-sticked, which is about all you need to know about how things were looking most of the night.
Brock McGinn was the most noticeable player on the ice for the Hurricanes, and I mean absolutely no disrespect to McGinn in saying this, but when a fringe third-line energy guy is the only player you notice, that’s a stinging indictment of the rest of the roster.
Yet when Skinner scored, corraling a loose puck at the side of the New Jersey net and depositing it behind Kinkaid’s skate, all seemed to be forgotten. They are right back on the playoff line, tied with the Islanders but losing the ROW tiebreaker. However, they will undoubtedly be further away from the line once Friday rolls around, and the trade deadline is just a week away. Based on the results of the past three games, no one can expect Francis to be looking to buy.
I thought we had some good looks at the puck. This was a tough one. We gifted them both their goals. We got a point out of it, it doesn’t look like you’re going to get anything, but that’s the only positive. 5 on 5 play I thought was good. We had the puck lots and didn’t give up much. We gave up a power play goal on a breakout and one at the end of a power play where we didn’t look organized.
We have to find a way to score. We don’t score easy right now by the looks of it.
He didn’t play much, but I thought Wallmark was good when he played. They had a real good chance on one of his early shifts. But then we chased the game from that point on and he didn’t play very much.
The management and ownership has a good idea of what they’re going to do already. I would think they have a plan and will have talked lots about what their strategy will be at the trade deadline.
I like the way we’re playing. We didn’t make as much hay as we like, but I like the way we’re playing We’re right there in every game. We have to score. The nights where we do score, we get lots, and the nights when we don’t, we’re scrambling. The power play wasn’t as good tonight as we would have liked. It’s a fine line, and tonight we didn’t find a way to get the big goal.
We could always use more confidence. It’s a tighter game, it’s toward the end of the season, every point matters and it’s more difficult. It’s a different style, and I think we did a better job of that tonight. We created a lot of shots, but they just aren’t going in.
These are playoff games. You can tell how much more intense they are. They’re good games, hardworking games. We’ve worked hard; the one in Jersey wasn’t our greatest, but the last two we’ve been right there and we just have to find ways to get it done.
Overall I think we’d like to get a better result, but it’s good to get a point. Coming down the stretch it gets faster and tighter, and it gets tougher to create space and to win games. These games have a little more importance, and that’s to be expected.
It’s tough. We have to find ways to score more. You generate a lot of chances and a lot of shots, and that’s good, it points to good things that are going on, but the games are decided by goals. It doesn’t seem like we’re finding enough of the at the right time.
- I don’t know what to believe anymore, honestly. Ron Francis went on the record a few days ago saying that they weren’t going to call up a guy to play six minutes, and then Lucas Wallmark gets called up and proceeds to play the princely sum of 4:28 in a game where four players, including Derek Ryan (!), cracked the 20-minute mark and Sebastian Aho missed it by nine seconds. Either Francis is blowing hot air, or Bill Peters isn’t in agreement with his general manager. One of those things must be true, isn’t it?
- Skinner’s goal was the 200th of his career, after he had the milestone called back on an offside review Friday against the Islanders, but he admitted that this one might not have been his: he thought there was a chance that Brock McGinn knocked it into the net while it was sitting on the goal line.
- Victor Rask played in the 300th game of his career. Since he joined the team, his 60 goals are second to only Skinner (102), which seems much more like an indictment on the team’s scoring woes than it does a reflection of Rask’s scoring prowess, doesn’t it?
- Before Skinner scored to tie the game, the Canes had scored one goal in their previous 88 shots dating to Brett Pesce’s goal against the Devils on Thursday. They’ve taken 40 or more shots eight times this season, and have lost four of those games.
- Notable in the postgame press conference was Peters’ referring to the management and ownership in the third person. If you glossed over it above, go back and look again. Peters has been part of the braintrust of this franchise since the day he took over, and now a week before the deadline he’s suddenly washing his hands of it? The terminology was very bizarre and out of character for Peters.
- The Canes were scheduled to practice Monday and take Tuesday off, but the Monday practice was cancelled and the Canes won’t be back on the ice until Wednesday morning.
Rank the Performances
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