And then there was one.
Last night, the Carolina Hurricanes played the 81st game of their 82-game season and, for the 46th time, they lost.
Much like Monday’s tilt in Sunrise, Florida, the Canes had a role to play in the Eastern Conference’s playoff race, despite being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
A Canes win on Thursday would have thrown a wrench into Philadelphia’s playoff plans and taken their destiny out of their own hands. Now, the Flyers need just one point in their final game of the season and/or one more loss from the Florida Panthers for them to clinch a Wild Card playoff spot.
One good thing did happen last night, though. Klas officially got in session.
Klas Dahlbeck ripped home his first goal of the season after a nice little offensive zone entry from Derek Ryan and a drop pass from Jeff Skinner.
With that goal, every player on the Hurricanes with 10+ games played has scored a go....
Haydn Fleury STILL hasn’t scored a goal? He’s played in 66 games!
The Canes went up 1-0 with Dahlbeck’s goal, but the Flyers were hot on their trail. Michael Raffl found a way to beat Scott Darling to tie the game at one. Claude Giroux got his league-leading 68th assist of the season on the goal. That’s a lot of assists, let me tell you.
Just 14 seconds after that, Sebastian Aho did what he has done all year, except for the first dozen games or so - score goals.
Teuvo Teravainen showed off some great puck protection, fed Valentin Zykov in the high slot, and Aho was able to corral the rebound off of the end wall and sent a nifty backhander past Brian Elliott who, for most of the game, was not very good.
That was the third goal scored by either team in 67 seconds of game time, and it sent the Canes up 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
At that point, the Flyers were running the Canes out of the building on the shot clock, an area where Carolina has made their living in recent memory. Philly, however, was learning the tough lesson that the shots on goal stat doesn’t necessarily win hockey games.
Unlike the Hurricanes, it didn’t take the Flyers almost a decade to figure that one out.
Near the 15 minute-mark of the second period, the home team tied things up.
2015 seventh-overall draft pick Ivan Provorov (the second-best defenseman drafted in the top-ten that year) netted his 16th goal of the season, the same number of goals that 2015 eighth-overall draft pick Zach Werenski (the best defenseman drafted in the top-ten that year) has out in Columbus with the playoff-bound Blue Jackets.
2015 fifth-overall draft pick Noah Hanifin and the Hurricanes would have to find a way to get some momentum.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they couldn’t really gain their footing, even through the end of the second period. That set the two teams up for a big third period with big potential playoff implications.
Just over half-way through the period, Claude Giroux added a goal to his stat line and gave the Flyers a one-goal lead. That goal didn’t go unanswered long, though. Carolina’s captain (or co-captain, I guess) got a goal of his own.
Staal buried an odd-angled wrist shot and, for once, it looked like the Hurricanes could’ve been on their way to actually winning a game because of poor goaltending.
Lol at least the canes are winning the goaltending battle tonight— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) April 6, 2018
Stupid Brett, you know what’s about to happen.
Less than a minute later, Jakub Voracek scored a pretty weak goal and the Flyers took the lead and ended up holding on to it for a 4-3 win.
That was Carolina’s final road game of the season, which is good because life away from PNC Arena wasn’t too kind to them. Their final home game is on Saturday, which is also good because life at PNC Arena hasn’t been too kind to them.
Ultimately, the loss sets Carolina up for a big home game against the Bolts on Saturday. That game will decide whether the Hurricanes will finish above or below NHL .500, unless they lose in overtime and finish the year 35-35-12 for an even .500 winning percentage according to the NHL even though they would have lost 12 more games than they had won, but who cares.
At least it’s almost over.
I will leave you with this parting note: the Hurricanes need a win on Saturday to finish 36-35-11, the exact same record they had in the final year of Kirk Muller’s tenure in 2013-14.
The exact same record.