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Recap: Canes streak ends with lackadaisical 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets

It was inevitable, but now the Hurricanes can get on with the business of starting a new streak in California next week.

Kaydee Gawlik

If, in a blind fit of misplaced optimism you decided to wager on the Carolina Hurricanes joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2003-04 “Invincibles” edition of Arsenal Football Club in the pantheon of professional sports’ undefeated seasons, and your friends tried to talk you out of it but you pressed forward, the torpedoes be damned, you should probably listen to your friends more often. Because now you’ve both made your friends roll your eyes at you and you’re out a bit of perfectly good money.

The Hurricanes’ unbeaten run ended at five games Saturday night at PNC Arena, as the Columbus Blue Jackets dealt Carolina their first loss of the season, taking a 3-2 decision. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the winning goal, breaking open a game that was tied for all but 44 seconds of the first two periods despite both teams scoring twice in that stretch.

From the start, the Hurricanes looked a tick off. They went down to five defensemen early when Haydn Fleury crashed into the boards awkwardly following a hook from Alexandre Texier, although Fleury later returned. Markus Nutivaara opened the scoring midway through the first period, scoring what might be one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score. As the Jackets completed a line change, Ryan Murray came flying off the bench, and Jake Gardiner overcommitted, leaving Nutivaara completely untouched at the near post for an easy tap-in.

It took just 27 seconds for the Hurricanes to tie the game back through Erik Haula, who scored his team-leading fifth goal on a beautiful four-way tap passing play. Carolina then took the lead shortly after the start of the second period when future Norris Trophy winner Dougie Hamilton unloaded a cannon blast past Joonas Korpisalo, taking the league lead in goals by defensemen with his fourth of the season.

But that lead itself would last just 17 seconds, and the game returned to a stalemate when Oliver Bjorkstrand walked out from behind the net, created a bit of separation between him and Sebastian Aho, and wired a perfect shot over James Reimer’s glove into the top corner. Reimer, so good in his first two starts, was far from at fault for tonight’s result, but he was outdueled by Korpisalo, making his second start in as many nights.

Dubois then decided it early in the third period, taking advantage of a Brock McGinn turnover at the blue line and converting the partial breakaway. Unlike in their previous comebacks, when they skated teams into the ice in the third period, the Hurricanes couldn’t find the extra gear, partly a result of the back-to-back games but more specifically because of the zone-trapping scheme that John Tortorella’s Jackets played to perfection late in the game.

The Hurricanes wore their new white jerseys for the first and only time at home this season, and unlike the black alternate uniforms which have been a lucky charm for the past year-plus, it seems unlikely that the whites will make another appearance at PNC Arena anytime soon. The Canes will take tomorrow off before practicing Monday ahead of a flight to Los Angeles, where they will begin a set of three games in four days against the Kings on Tuesday night.

Prior to the game, the Hurricanes activated Trevor van Riemsdyk from the non-roster injured list, another step in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. Van Riemsdyk did not play against Columbus but seems likely to make his season debut on the upcoming road trip, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Then, after the game, the team sent Julien Gauthier back to Charlotte, presumably to bank a bit of cap space before leaving for California. The releases from the team are below.

Defenseman began season on non-roster injured reserve

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has activated defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from non-roster injured reserve.

Van Riemsdyk, 28, registered 14 points (3g, 11a) in 78 regular-season games with the Hurricanes in 2018-19 and skated in nine playoff games. The 6’3”, 185-pound defenseman has tallied 61 points (14g, 47a) in 315 career NHL games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes. The Middletown, N.J., native was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft before being traded to Carolina on June 22, 2017, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft (traded to N.Y. Rangers) in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft (Jake Leschyshyn).

Forward made NHL debut on Friday vs. NY Islanders

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned forward Julien Gauthier to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Gauthier, 22, skated in two NHL games after being recalled on Oct. 9 and made his NHL debut on Oct. 11 vs. NY Islanders. The 6’4”, 226-pound forward has scored a pair of goals in two AHL regular season games with the Checkers this season, after posting 41 points (27g, 14a) in 75 games with Charlotte in 2018-19. He added eight points (5g, 3a) in 17 AHL playoff games last season as the Checkers captured their first-ever Calder Cup championship. Gauthier has registered 68 points (45g, 23a) in 142 career AHL games with Charlotte. The Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., native represented his home country at the 2016 and 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships, winning silver in 2017. Gauthier was drafted by the Hurricanes in the first round, 21st overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.