The Carolina Hurricanes have long suffered from an overpassing disease, an affliction that has cost them time and again. It happened yet again on Sunday night, as the Canes outshot the Winnipeg Jets 35-23 but couldn’t make it translate on the scoreboard in a 3-2 loss to the Jets that dropped the Canes out of a playoff spot.
Despite carrying play in the first few minutes of the game, putting three shots on Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck before Winnipeg took one of their own, it was the visitors who struck first. Patrik Laine scored his first of two on the evening as Nikolaj Ehlers fed him from behind the net and the Finn fired off a one-timer that beat Cam Ward through the five-hole before the goalie knew it was past him.
We interrupt this recap to bring you the most important thing that happened tonight:
Arko, a Morrisville Police K9, is tonight's @lenovoUS Hero of the Game and a h*ckin good boy. pic.twitter.com/ivc02QGKVF— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) March 5, 2018
Now that you have served your two-minute ruff-ing penalty, we resume.
Teuvo Teravainen equalized for the Canes with a minute and a half remaining in the first, seconds after the Canes failed to convert on a power play following a Josh Morrissey slashing penalty. It was a lucky bounce, to be sure, but his centering pass intended for Jordan Staal caromed off of Dmitry Kulikov’s leg and past Hellebuyck to tie the game.
The goal was the third for Teravainen in as many games and extended a four-game point streak for the winger. The primary assist went to Sebastian Aho, his 100th NHL point. They have come in 144 games, third behind Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner (133 games each) in Carolina history as the fastest to reach the milestone.
But the story through the first two periods was the missed opportunities and the cutesy passing plays that cost the Canes time and again. It was Victor Rask directing a puck wide on what should have been a tap-in shortly before Laine scored. It was Justin Williams inexplicably passing five feet from the net to no one in particular. It was Jaccob Slavin not trusting his backhand from the slot with no defender around him in the second.
True to form, the Canes outshot the Jets 17-4 in the second period, yet they conceded the go-ahead goal, again to Laine, on one of those four shots. A wrister from Ovechkinland in the near circle deflected off Brock McGinn and past Ward, who was unprepared for the change in direction.
And speaking of deflections, the goal that gave the Jets a two-goal lead was one of the most bizarre you’ll ever see. Defenseman Ben Chiarot took a harmless-looking shot that Ward steered off the crossbar, but on the deflection off the iron the puck hit referee Eric Furlatt in the neck and bounced right to Paul Stastny, who teed off on an open net to extend Winnipeg’s lead.
But Jordan Staal made sure there was still something to play for in the final five minutes. A Slavin point shot bounced off Hellebuyck’s left pad and right to the co-captain, who fired it home under the goalie’s glove to cut the lead back to 3-2.
That was as close as the Canes would come, despite playing the final two minutes with Ward out of the net and Skinner coming close with just over a minute to go. The loss dropped the Hurricanes out of a playoff spot coupled with the Panthers’ win over the Flyers earlier in the day.
In Their Own Words
I thought they did a good job boxing out. We had a few good looks early off the rush, and had a hard time getting it to go. We had to chase the game a little bit. Unfortunate that it goes off the official and Stastny gets that, and then you’re really chasing the game. We needed to get one earlier, be a little sharper on special teams also.
They’re deep. They’re very deep. They seem to score, I don’t want to say easy, but they have the ability to score. It comes off Laine’s stick different, jumping off his stick. I thought they were real dangerous. I thought they had lots of shots. They had the puck lots, and they generate a lot of offense. I don’t see enough of him live, and that maybe is a good thing, but he was sure dangerous tonight.
[Teravainen] is way more competitive on a consistent basis than he has ever been, probably, in his career. Skinner was good. He had good jump and drew a power play in the offensive zone. I thought he had good legs.
[Staal’s] goal was huge. We’re talking about getting the goaltender out and all of a sudden we score, and it changes the dynamic. Those are the types of goal this time of year, seconds and thirds. I thought he was real good. That line was good.
For the most part, most of the second and third we had control of the game. Obviously they’re up so we couldn’t be as risky, but we had chances. We just couldn’t get to three.
They made it hard to get to the net. They made it hard to create plays. That’s what good teams do.
It’s playoff-style hockey right now, and I thought we were digging in and working hard, battling hard. The effort was there, the chances were there, we just couldn’t break through.
I swear, a few games ago some odd bounce off the ref was blown down, and they said they wouldn’t allow a goal like that. It was tough to watch a goal like that go in.
I thought we had good jump. We were able to get in on the forecheck and create some turnovers, just couldn’t bury one. You need to work and try to get body position. It’s tough because they’re trying to prevent you from doing that, and sometimes it’s just where the puck falls. We got a bounce on Teravainen’s, the rebound bounced right to them on their third goal. You have to make sure you’re there, and maybe we can do a little better job of establishing body positioning.
You’re always trying to get to the next level. We’ve done a better job as of late, and we want to continue getting better. The games are getting tighter, there’s less and less room out there as we go down the stretch. You need to match that level of intensity to keep climbing, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
- A game like that is a perfect example of a loss that feels much different in March than it does in, say, November. If that effort happens before Thanksgiving, the Canes are probably...well, not fine necessarily, but it’s understandable. Winnipeg is really, really good, and the Canes aren’t on their level. It’s just that things become more magnified in the spotlight of a playoff race.
- Peters noted the efficiency of Laine’s ice time. He only played 14:16 - and, more to the point, Ehlers only played 12 minutes - but the two combined for four points and a +4. That’s impressive.
- There were no media timeouts in the final period, the first time anyone can remember that happening. You can’t take a break after a goal or an icing, and those were the only whistles until the final minute of the game (when they won’t take a media timeout). Kind of bizarre.
That 20-minute period only took 26 minutes of real time to play. That's nuts.— H. Wade Minter (@minter) March 5, 2018
- Staal finished +2 in nearly 20 minutes of ice time. They missed him dearly, and his goal was well deserved. At the other end...Derek Ryan, 16:49 of ice time, 3:55 on the power play, two shots, 1-for-7 in the faceoff circle. Yowza.
- The Canes have tomorrow off, and will head to Minnesota tomorrow afternoon to get ready for a quick two-game trip to St. Paul and Chicago this week.
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.