It wasn’t the fiery, inspired effort one would expect from an NHL team following a scathing callout from their head coach.
Thanks to a quirk in this year’s schedule, the Hurricanes met the division rival Philadelphia Flyers for the first time this season... 53 games into their slate. It wasn’t the best time for one of those tentative, feel-each-other-out games that you so often see when divisional rivals usually meet for the first time in October, November, or sometimes even December. But February? In the middle of the playoff push? Not when you expect to see this kind of a game.
Coming off horrifically lackluster efforts against Detroit on Friday and San Jose on Sunday, expectations were high for the Hurricanes, as the Flyers represented one of the teams immediately between them and the playoff berth that this franchise so desperately needs.
Ultimately, though, it’s whether or not you win the game that counts in the standings, and not how you looked doing it. The Hurricanes weren’t able to get that part done either, though, as they dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime on a night where their scoring woes persisted.
“It’s not going in right now, obviously for us,” said head coach Bill Peters, who dropped his 300th game as an NHL head coach. “Better bear down and get it off our stick a little quicker. I thought we had some real good looks.”
“Yeah, one goal in I don’t know how many games now,” Elias Lindholm said. “It’s tough to win when you score only one goal.”
Unlike the teams on the ice, the referees weren’t holding back in the first period. Carolina got the game’s first power play when defenseman Brandon Manning high-sticked Jeff Skinner less than five minutes into the contest. The Hurricanes weren’t able to do much on the power play, and neither was the potent Flyers’ unit when Klas Dahlbeck took a tripping penalty a few minutes later.
The Hurricanes got a break when Brock McGinn was bloodied by the elbow of Flyers youngster Nolan Patrick. The officials gave Patrick a four-minute double minor for high-sticking even though there was no contact between Patrick’s stick and McGinn’s face.
That extra two minutes of power play time proved to be the difference, as with 1:33 remaining in the infraction, Lindholm took a feed in front of the net from Teuvo Teravainen, was denied by Brian Elliott on his initial attempt, but took the rebound on his backhand and slid it in behind Elliott. Justin Faulk also picked up an assist on the play.
“It was good work by everyone,” Lindholm said of the power play. “They really came up big there with a lot of blocks but we found a way to put it in.
A make-up call came shortly thereafter when Lee Stempniak was called for holding despite not holding anybody, but the Carolina penalty kill was equal to the task again.
The first period ended with the teams even in shots on goal at 10 and the Hurricanes holding a 1-0 lead.
Carolina’s penalty kill continued to be strong in the second period as they fended off opportunities wrought by penalties taken by Faulk and Sebastian Aho.
Goaltender Cam Ward had to come up big on multiple occasions in the second frame, as the Hurricanes got hemmed in their own zone during and following those power plays.
Eventually, Wayne Simmonds was left alone in front of the net, and as he is wont to do, he beat Ward from in close. Jakub Voracek picked up his league-leading 52nd assist on the season, with Andrew MacDonald tallying a helper as well.
Skinner broke in with an attempt to reclaim the lead for the Hurricanes in the moments immediately following Simmonds’s equalizer, but he was rebuffed by an aggressive challenging save from Elliott.
Shots on goal were once again tied after two, with each team putting 21 on the opposing goaltender.
The third period was once again tight, as it wasn’t until Claude Giroux broke in past Teuvo Teravainen with 10:30 to go in the frame that we saw a particularly threatening chance. Teravainen took what was probably a wise penalty when he slashed Giroux to break up the chance, but the Flyers picked up a man advantage in the process.
The Carolina penalty kill continued to perform well, as the Flyers never really managed to get into their sets in the Canes’ zone.
Three periods wasn’t going to be enough to settle this one, as the first meeting of the year between these two teams advanced to the 3-on-3 overtime period.
In the extra frame, the Hurricanes dominated the puck, but Jordan Weal won the game with 3.1 seconds in the extra frame, beating Ward with a soft dribbler through the legs.
Despite the loss, the Hurricanes inched closer to the playoffs by picking up their 57th point of the season.
“I thought it was real good,” Peters said of his team’s performance. “Obviously happy with the effort, not in love with the end result, but [we] had some looks in OT also.”
“Lot of chances, obviously,” Jordan Staal said of the overtime period. “I could have had a few... just gotta put it in and find a way to bury it to win the game.”
The Hurricanes will return to action and continue their long home stand on Friday when the Vancouver Canucks make their only visit of the season to PNC Arena.
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