The Carolina Hurricanes three game win streak came crashing to a halt on Thursday night as the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from 2-0 down to win 5-3 in Raleigh.
It was a disappointing loss to a division rival who had dropped four straight, only exacerbated by how Philadelphia was able to generate their chances. The Flyers, who are now just one point behind Carolina in the Metropolitan standings, seemed more desperate and hungry for large portions of the game.
After jumping out to the early lead, Carolina won a draw in the offensive zone. Jake Gardiner controlled the puck off the faceoff, but was hounded by Flyer defenders and forced to attempt a dump in. It was intercepted by Claude Giroux and the Flyers’ captain immediately sprung Travis Konecny into the Hurricanes’ zone.
Konecny falls, but quickly recovers before Trevor van Riemsdyk can close on him. Once Konecny recovers, he beats van Riemsdyk behind the net and makes an incredible backhand feed to Giroux for Philadelphia’s first goal. Below it is clear that Gardiner is in good position next to Giroux, but does not tie up Giroux’s stick.
With Petr Mrazek turning his head expecting a wrap around, all Giroux needs is an inch of separation to bury the no look pass from Konecny.
It is a tough end to the shift for Gardiner, who failed to get the puck deep off of the faceoff and then could not mark Giroux well enough to prevent the Flyers’ first goal of the night.
Early in the second with the game tied after a Flyers’ power-play marker, the Hurricanes had their own chance on the man advantage. After a near miss at one end, the puck was sent all the way down to Mrazek. Late in the power play and with the Hurricanes changing, Mrazek opts to try an ill advised stretch pass. Mrazek never picks his head up and the errant pass travels for an icing.
Because of the icing, the Hurricanes cannot complete their line change, leaving no true centers on the ice. While Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Dzingel have played center in the past, neither are known as great in the faceoff dot. The Flyers send out Giroux, who is consistently one of the top five faceoff men in the league. He beats Teravainen clean, setting up a Morgan Frost one-timer that trickles through Mrazek to give the Flyers their first lead.
After tying the game early in the third, the Hurricanes conceded what would be the eventual game-winner, again to Giroux.
In the clip below, after a hard wrap is tipped into the zone by Giroux, Konecny outskates and outmuscles Teravainen to retrieve the loose puck. Teravainen’s stick comes off the ice, causing him to lose leverage.
Instead of sticking on Morgan Frost, Joel Edmundson attempts to cut off Konecny. When Konecny spins, Edmundson and Teravainen go down, allowing Frost to walk out of the corner unmarked. With Giroux cutting back door, Brett Pesce is forced to play the two-on-one as best as he can in a high danger area. Pesce is unable to disrupt the pass and Giroux has yet another tap in.
It was a full scale breakdown with Teravainen and Edmundson both unable to get to their feet in time to recover. But a wider angle will show that even after those two hit the deck, the Carolina wingers, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, are too late coming back into the zone, leaving them unable to collapse down into the slot in time to help out in front.
As it feels has been the case in so many Carolina losses this season, the mistakes are minor. But in a league with as much parity as this one, minor mistakes can lead to major problems. And on Thursday night, they led to another divisional loss.