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Recap and Ranker: Another third-period collapse dooms Hurricanes in 4-2 loss

We’ve been here before, and it’s pretty much curtains for the Canes’ playoff chances.

Jamie Kellner

It wasn’t in nearly as dramatic a fashion as Tuesday’s capitulation against Boston, but the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night followed a familiar script: an early lead, carried into the third period, undone by defensive miscues and a multi-goal outburst in the span of a few minutes.

Neither team gained a footing early in the game until Jordan Staal opened the scoring with just under five minutes togo. Jaccob Slavin’s point shot was tipped out of midair by Staal cruising through the slot, redirecting it through Flyers goalie Alex Lyon’s five-hole to give the Canes the lead for the second time in as many games.

A couple of minutes later, the Canes had a great chance to make it a 2-0 lead when Noah Hanifin was all alone in front of Lyon, but the Canes defenseman couldn’t lift the puck over the goalie’s right pad to double the lead.

Early in the second, Elias Lindholm nearly did the honors, getting everything on a one-time from 15 feet out in the slot but firing just wide. The story was becoming one of the Canes missing opportunities, and it almost cost them if not for a timely Cam Ward save on a Travis Sanheim breakaway. Sanheim fired high to the glove side, but Ward deflected it away to preserve the lead.

An Andrew MacDonald double-minor for high sticking gave the Canes a power play that extended on either side of the second intermission, but they did nothing with it, looking timid and tentative with the puck all night on the man advantage against the team with the second-worst penalty kill in the league.

Despite getting no momentum from their power play, and visibly sagging a bit after each unsuccessful man advantage, the Canes wouldn’t bend. The Flyers didn’t help their cause by firing high and wide repeatedly, but Ward was on his game and the Canes did just enough to allow him to see everything coming his way.

Finally, with 11 minutes left, the Flyers cashed in on a goal that felt like it had been coming for a good while. Sanheim let a shot go from the left point, and despite being shoved out of the way by Hanifin, Travis Konecny got his stick on the shot to redirect it past Ward to tie the game.

Sebastian Aho nearly got the lead back on the next shift, barreling into the crease but denied by Lyon, but the Canes suddenly had their skating legs for the first time in what seemed like forever. It paid off two minutes later, when Jaccob Slavin skated the puck in from the blue line and around Michael Raffl, roofing a shot while being tripped to claim the lead back for Carolina. Words don’t really do it justice, so see for yourself:

But then a defensive breakdown in front of Ward left Jakub Voracek all alone at the top of the crease with no one around him, and the Flyers’ second-leading scorer had all day to tie the game. Ward nearly scrambled across, but the puck slid just under his outstretched glove and into the net just before he could smother it.

Valtteri Filppula then finished the job, scoring on a breakaway to ice the win with 5:49 to go after Elias Lindholm had shot wide on a 3-on-2 seconds earlier, and Raffl poured salt in the wound with two minutes left into the empty net. The loss left the Canes twelve points behind the Flyers and Blue Jackets, all but reduced to playing out the string in the final twelve games of the season.

They Said It

Bill Peters:

It’s a situation where some guys are trying to do too much, trying to do someone else’s job, and then we break down. There’s different levels. Some guys are fully vested, and some guys aren’t quite where they should be.

[Question: If some guys are fully vested and some guys aren’t, how do you weed out the guys who aren’t?] That’s a year end question. [Is it?] Yeah. There’s callups, there’s a team down below trying to make the AHL playoffs.

Even on the game winner, if you look at it, we’re trying to score the game-winner. The intentions are right. The result isn’t what you want.

[Is that part of the issue, guys not trusting the other guys to do their job?] That’s what it looks like to me, for sure.

The power play execution wasn’t very good. We didn’t build any momentum off that whatsoever.

Jordan Staal:

Our power play could obviously be better, but in the end it came down to competing and having pride in what we’re trying to do. We handed them a few easy goals, and that was the game. We hung Wardo out to dry. I thought he played great.

We’re obviously fragile. There are mistakes that we’re making because we’re trying too hard, but they’re mistakes that shouldn’t happen. We have to clean it up and take some pride in our game.

I think there’s a lot of players in this room who care and who want to win. We had a solid season early, and obviously as of late it’s been ugly, but there are some good people in this room who really care and want to win. That will come through in the end, and help us get where we want to go.

There are times where we’re losing it, where we’re not competing hard enough. It’s all throughout the lineup, myself included. We have to be better, work hard, believe in each other, and compete for each other. Those grinding-it-out wins will come, and the easier wins will come later.

Game Notes

  • Not much to say about this one. It was basically a carbon copy of Tuesday’s loss, just in less dramatic form.
  • Peters seems out of answers. His press conference lasted 2:30; Staal talked for more than four minutes. To be honest, I can sympathize with him; we (the media) are all kind of wondering what to ask because we’ve pretty much drained every well at this point, and Peters very obviously feels the same way about the answers he gives.
  • Staal talked about how there are people in the room who care. Noteworthy by its absence, and I might be reading too much into this, was any mention of “everyone in this room cares and wants to win.” If that’s not the case, why are any of us here? It’s not in a hockey player’s DNA (or in a coach’s, for that matter) to call out teammates, but maybe the Canes need some of that from their leader. And at this point, that’s what Staal is: the singular leader of the Hurricanes.
  • One moment that caused a few snickers from the peanut gallery: at one point Peters said there’s nowhere for the players to hide when they have a bad game or make a bad play. This after the media entered the room and Staal, PDG and Rask were the only three players to be found. If you’re going to be accountable, that’s an awful odd way of proving it.
  • The Canes head to the Islanders tomorrow, facing John Tavares who is apparently now a winger. (confused nick young dot jpg) Justin will be at Barclays for us, so send some #thoughtsandprayers his way.

Rank the Performances

Here’s your chance to weigh in on how you think the team performed tonight. Upvote the players you think played well and downvote the ones who didn’t.