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Old friends burn Hurricanes in 4-3 loss to Flames

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Bill Peters’ team won the Race to Three.

Jamie Kellner

RALEIGH — When Bill Peters was in charge of the Carolina Hurricanes, one of his regular lines that became a meme among fans was the Race to Three: the theory that the first team to get to three goals would probably win the game. Now at the helm of the Calgary Flames, his new club proved him correct, taking a 4-3 win and sweeping the season series on Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena.

Teuvo Teravainen opened the scoring four minutes in, finishing off a perfect sequence of passes that started with Sebastian Aho intercepting a misguided T.J. Brodie pass from behind the Calgary net. But a former teammate of Teravainen’s, Elias Lindholm, tied it with a power play goal four minutes later.

The crowd of 12,621 was incensed later in the period when Andrei Svechnikov was whistled for goaltender interference after he grazed Flames goaltender David Rittich. It was a theme of the first two periods, with Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland receiving questionable penalties while at the other end Jordan Martinook was tackled while trying to retrieve the puck following a penalty kill and didn’t earn a power play for the Hurricanes.

The reunion tour continued in the second period when Derek Ryan, the forgotten man in the high-profile transactions between Calgary and Carolina in the off-season, wrapped the puck around Petr Mrazek’s net and scored one of the prettier goals of his career, certainly far beyond anything the home crowd had seen in Ryan’s three seasons with the Hurricanes. He then added an assist on Garnet Hathaway’s shorthanded goal halfway through the second period, and despite Mrazek standing on his head to keep his team in the game, the offense looked like it was in no mood to give him any support.

But in keeping with the theme, Dougie Hamilton joined the fray, taking advantage of an inadvertent Noah Hanifin screen in front of Rittich to wire home a wrister from the top of the right circle and pull the Canes to within one. An early third-period Carolina power play saw almost no movement away from the puck carrier, and again PNC Arena devolved into the funereal atmosphere it saw plenty of in the second.

With 6:55 to go, Noah Hanifin completed the former-Canes trifecta by burying a wrister past an out-of-position Mrazek, who had been shoved out of the crease by James Neal (much more forcefully than Svechnikov had done to Rittich earlier, just for the record). Rod Brind’Amour challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood, putting the Flames back up by two and continuing the parade of boos that rained down on the officials most of the afternoon.

Mrazek, who was hung out to dry and deserved better, finally had enough on a late-third period Flames power play, covering the puck with one hand and delivering a shove to Matthew Tkachuk with the other, in the style of Cam Ward on Patrik Hornqvist years ago.

Nino Niederreiter, looking for his sixth goal in as many games with his new team, hit the post with 2:41 to go, and the Canes earned a late power play that was quickly negated by a Justin Faulk high-sticking penalty. Aho scored with 55 seconds left with the goalie pulled, but it was too little, too late for the Hurricanes, who saw their chance to climb even higher in the standings thwarted in a frustrating game that looked at once familiar and very odd.


They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

I don’t know that we chased it. Our start, I liked it, it was good. It would have been nice to get a couple of breaks earlier, but the difference in the game is clear to me. It was the power play giving up a shorthanded goal. That’s not acceptable, and that’s the difference in the game.

[Frustrating at the inconsistency on the goalie interference calls?] Yeah. But that’s across the league. You can’t tell. You can never figure that out. I didn’t think Svech’s was, and to be honest I didn’t think that was at the end of the game either. But when they call the one on Svech, I’m like, well for sure they’re going to call that, it’s the exact same kind of thing. But every coach says the same things. Nobody knows what is and what isn’t. It’s not like it’s clear. It’s confusing for everybody. It is what it is.

I don’t look at that number (save percentage) at all. To me he’s been good, and you can’t blame him for any of the goals - it feels like all year. We gave up too much tonight. They had quite a few that they gave up too. It was one of those games where it was a little loose, and unfortunately for us that isn’t our style.

All the guys played well. It was a good game, there was a lot of excitement in it and a lot of chances, but we needed to win a lot more than they did. It hurts.

Justin Williams:

If you want to look at one big difference, our power play got minus-one against it, which can’t happen. We need to execute, we need to score goals, those are crunch times and instead of being 2-2 and tying it up, it’s 3-1 them and that’s a tough hill to climb, especially against one of the better teams in the league.

You can look at Svech - he takes the puck to the net hard, he always does it, and he seems to get called for it quite a bit. They obviously, on that goal, took it hard to the net hard as well. One was called, one wasn’t. But listen, that’s the guts of the game, the human element. When I look back at it, I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at how we’ve poorly executed on the power play.

I was really fired up today. I was a little more amped up than usual. These are all big games for us. This is two that slipped away that we feel we could have had in both games against them. But we can’t let it derail us from what we’re going to do here next.

[How hard is it when you think maybe things were taken away from you instead of just losing the game?] It’s like the whiny kid in the schoolyard - “it’s not fair!” I’m not playing that card. We need to do a little bit better on the power play, like I said, and there may have been a different outcome.

Bill Peters:

There’s a lot of turnover there, eight or nine players that I didn’t coach. Systems wise, Roddy knows what I’m all about and I know what he’s going to do, right? We just played each other. I think that helped us, if you don’t see a team very much, that you can use head to head tape, and we were able to do that today in our meetings.

We had a great day yesterday. I got to go to my house, got to see my daughter, had some work done on my house, found a bottle of Caymus in the wine fridge there, so I brought that home and give that to the wife. Got all the good stuff out of there. The cheap stuff, the vinegar, I left in the fridge.

I had four great years here. It’s a great city, wonderful people in and out of the game, there’s great people in this organization and in this community. We really enjoyed our time here, really did. That’s why we still have our house and might come down a little bit this summer and play a some golf if it’s not too hot.


Game Notes

  • Let’s get this out of the way first:
  • I know there’s going to be an element that gets lost in their feels about this, but whatever. Lindholm was booed twice, vociferously, in that game. He got one over on an organization that did him no favors in his development for years. It is what it is. Again: the argument for the storm surge is that Hockey Is Fun, remember? Well, that goes both ways, and Lindholm had a lot of fun today. If the Canes don’t like it, too bad; win the game instead.
  • Also not a popular opinion: Bill Peters absolutely wore out his welcome as coach of this team, but I’ll go to bat for him as a person any day of the week. I’ve covered five coaches in my time writing about the Canes, and he’s by far the most engaging and genuinely nice on a personal level of any of them. I’ve seen him twice since he left, and both times he couldn’t have been more engaging.
  • You could tell that both Brind’Amour and Williams were incensed to varying levels about the officiating inconsistency. And for good reason. Brind’Amour’s comment about challenging Hanifin’s goal was instructive, and I’m surprised we don’t see more of those types of “why the hell not” challenges late in games.
  • The Canes need to go back to the drawing board on the power play, again. This is not a repeat, although it feels like it is. There was way too much standing around tonight and not nearly enough movement to make a play.
  • Aho now has a five game point streak and 34 points in his last 25 games. Peters called him “a superstar” after the game, and said basically that he probably would have used him at center all season himself if he had hung around.
  • The Canes practice tomorrow before leaving for the airport, starting a five-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.