After the Carolina Hurricanes blew a game against Tampa Bay last week with a very weak third period effort, captain Justin Williams said the Canes “pissed it away.” A week later and the Canes have cost themselves points again because they ‘pissed away’ another third period. This time the opposition was much more relevant in the Washington Capitals and the consequences could be far more detrimental after the 4-1 defeat.
Justin Williams: "We pissed it away, and it’s unacceptable."— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) March 22, 2019
The Good - Holding Your Own For 40
Just as with the game against Tampa, the Hurricanes held their own against one of the best teams in the league for 40 minutes. There’s something to be proud of in that and some sort of positive to take away from being in that position. It wasn’t their best play overall but Petr Mrazek held his team in the game and Dougie Hamilton found a way to tie the game in the second period.
The Canes managed to kill off two penalties with the ever dangerous Alex Ovechkin lurking and put themselves in position to win the game after the first two periods. From there everything fell to pieces but they can find some positive in that fact that twice in one week the Canes have found a way to be in a game against a top team in the NHL after 40 minutes.
The Bad - The Final Effort
“To be the best you gotta beat the best.” It’s an old cliche but it’s ever so true. Twice in the span of seven days the Hurricanes have had golden opportunities to beat the best in the NHL and they didn’t just fail, they flat lined.
The third period last night was not the Hurricanes team that came back to beat both Pittsburgh and Montreal over the past week. The team that took the ice for the third period versus both Tampa and Washington was the Hurricanes of the last decade. Always failing when faced with adversity. Never finding the final way to get over the hump. Giving up when the game was still winnable. All of these things happened last night and it simply is not acceptable at this point in the season with the stakes at their highest.
It only seems fitting that the Great 8 would be the player to sink the ship for the Carolina Hurricanes. A thorn in their side since the days of the Southeast Division, Alex Ovechkin always seems to score when playing against the Canes. He put his team on his shoulders and went out and took the game over in the third period, scoring the game winning goal.
Mrazek certainly would like this one back but Justin Faulk lost his gap on Ovechkin allowing him to get the shot off. The one thing you have to do when playing the Capitals is keep Ovechkin in check and Faulk failed to do so on this play.
From that point on the Canes switched off. There was no fight, no desire, no inspiration. Simply put, they gave up. The team we have fallen in love with since 2019 turned the corner gave up in the third period for the second consecutive week.
On John Carlson’s goal nobody even bothered to cover him. The Canes left him all alone to score an easy goal.
As with their loss to Tampa and even their loss to Columbus a few weeks back, these types of games are simply not acceptable at this point in the season. In November you can learn from them and be better prepared for when you see that team again. In late March you cannot afford to gift wrap points to teams you are competing with.
Maybe this team is still too young to know how to close out every game. But Rod Brind’Amour and Justin Williams are not. They are the ones that have to take these games over and get the rest of the team in line. For most of 2019 they have done a great job of that. Look no further than the Pittsburgh and Montreal games. But for two consecutive Thursday nights, they haven’t finished the job. Now they just have to hope that those points don’t come back to haunt them.
The Ugly - The Out Of Town Scoreboard
First and foremost you have to take care of your own business. After the Canes failed to do that last night they had to hope for some help elsewhere. For the better part of the past two weeks they have gotten absolutely no help making these losses to Tampa and Washington even more difficult to swallow.
With both Columbus and Montreal winning last night the Canes sit just three points above the cut off line and only one point ahead of the Wild Card #2 spot (AKA, the Tampa sweep spot).
January and February were outstanding months for the Canes and they put them in to the position they are currently at on the inside of the cut line. But March has been much tougher and it seems like the Canes are letting their foot off the gas way too often.
From their losses to Boston and Winnipeg to the embarrassments against Columbus, Tampa, and now Washington, the Hurricanes are killing themselves. They have a chance to do something for the first time in 10 years. They have people interested again (just ask NBCSN).
Looks like @NHLCanes fans in Raleigh are excited about a potential playoff berth.— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) March 27, 2019
Tuesday's CAR-WSH game was @NBCSN's highest-rated regular-season Hurricanes game in the Raleigh market in more than 10 years (1/2/08 v. ATL; 1.6), posting a 1.4 local rating. pic.twitter.com/QwVRGs4R3A
But instead of going out and taking control of their own destiny, they are doing their best to let other teams decide their fate. At this time of year, that rarely ends well.
Moral of the Story
The Canes get a rare opportunity to right their wrongs on Thursday night. Take down the Capitals in your own arena and you can forget the fact that you pissed away another game in the third period. Lose to them again and you have to face the reality that the playoffs are in danger of slipping away.
You cannot rely on other teams to do your job for you and the Canes can still control their own fate. With their rematch against Washington tomorrow and another showdown with Pittsburgh on Sunday, they still control their own destiny all the way through the Metro spots. But if they come out in anyway with the same poor effort that they displayed last night against Washington over their last six games, there will be a 10th year of no playoffs in Raleigh.