Despite a strong start that featured a goal less than four minutes in, the Carolina Hurricanes dropped their third straight game Friday night as they fell to the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in overtime in PNC Arena.
The Canes’ lone goal came from Sebastian Aho early in the first period, as he got in front of the net and tipped a point shot past Ryan Miller to open up the scoring. The Ducks evened things up late in the first period thanks to Erik Gudbranson, before Sam Steel netted the game-winning goal 1:36 into overtime.
James Reimer was a positive in net for the Hurricanes and the main reason they got a point, stopping 35 of 37 shots faced and coming up with some great saves to keep things tied throughout the second and third period. He was hung out to dry on Anaheim’s first goal, and then faced a tough one-on-one in overtime. On the other end of the ice, Miller stopped 25 of 26 shots in a solid outing for the Ducks.
The Hurricanes were missing a hugely important piece of their team for the first night of many Friday, as Carolina was playing without All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton for the first time. Hamilton broke his leg in the Canes’ loss in Columbus Thursday night, and underwent surgery Friday.
Carolina doesn’t know how long it will be without Hamilton, but it will certainly be at least a couple of months. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour played around with the defensive pairings throughout the night Friday, as the Canes had to learn how to move on without one of the league’s best scoring D-men.
The defensive pairings weren’t the only things that Brind’Amour tinkered with Friday, as the Canes’ offensive lines got shuffled around throughout the game as Carolina looked for an answer offensively. The shifting up of things never paid off, as the Canes were held scoreless through the final 56 minutes of regulation and overtime.
The Canes were electric through the games opening few minutes, controlling the puck and playing with intensity and some crispness. Carolina’s efforts were rewarded less than four minutes in, as Aho scored his 24th goal of the season on a tip from in front of the net.
Defenseman Joel Edmundson, who took over Hamilton’s spot on Carolina’s top defensive pairing, launched a shot from the point. Aho was positioned well in front of Miller, getting just enough of his stick on the puck to change its course and put it into the back of the net.
Sebastian Aho wins the face off, goes to the net, and deflects home a Joel Edmundson point shot to give the Hurricanes an early 1-0 lead over the Ducks. pic.twitter.com/ZkBkHgNZQp— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) January 18, 2020
After a fairly commanding first period for the Canes, things unraveled a bit as the first intermission neared. Erik Gudbrandson tied the game up at 1-1 with less than two minutes to play in the opening period, sneaking in from the point behind the Canes’ defense.
Gubrandson was all alone, and Ryan Getzlaf delivered a great cross-ice pass right to his stick. With all five Carolina skaters facing Getzlaf, Gudbrandson was left all alone with Reimer and he didn’t miss.
The Ducks got an early power-play chance in the second period after Jordan Staal got called for high-sticking, but it was the Hurricanes who got the best look on Anaheim’s man advantage. Aho nearly got his second of the night on a shorthanded breakaway, but found the iron instead.
The Canes went on to get their second power play of the game midway through the second period, but again, nothing came of it. The period came to an end with the score still tied at 1-1 and not too much in the way of chances for Carolina, apart from a late tip attempt from Aho. Anaheim had a few good looks on net in the middle frame, but Reimer made a couple of key stops to keep things tied.
After a mostly uneventful third period, the Hurricanes did get a chance with about 20 seconds left to play. Miller made a save and found himself pretty far out of net, but the Hurricanes couldn’t take advantage of that opportunity.
Steel’s overtime winner came following a turnover by the Canes in the offensive zone, as Jakob Silfverberg threaded a long pass to Steel to spring a breakaway and the winning goal.
The Hurricanes will be back at it Sunday evening in PNC Arena, as they host the New York Islanders.
They Said It
(On what changed after the good start) “We just didn’t get going after that. The start was fine. We generated quite a bit of offense, but then they just took over. They were the much better team, and we couldn’t get out of our own way really. We couldn’t get out of our own end clean. We just spent too much time trying to defend and that just took the sails out of us.”
(On missing Dougie Hamilton) “That’s a huge part of our team missing, but still there’s a lot of guys in there. I don’t think we were sharp and that was clearly evident.
(On James Reimer’s performance) “He made some big saves, kept us in there. There were a couple in the second period, especially, it felt like they got behind. And then in the third he was good too.”
(On what Anaheim did well in the second and third period) “They’ve got a pretty big D corps over there, so I think we were having a hard time getting to the net. When we did get shots through, I think that’s when we generated our chances. They made it hard for us to get to the net.”
(On Dougie Hamilton’s absence) “Obviously he’s a heck of a player. Anytime he’s out, we’re going to miss him. I think with the power play, Dougie makes that a heck of a lot better. Some of the offensive plays he has. He’s a shooter, he’s a great passer. His presence is missed all over the ice.”
(On James Reimer’s performance) “He was unbelievable. I think we don’t even get that point without him. That’s huge props to him for keeping us in it.”
(On his performance) “I thought I played well for the most part. It’s frustrating to lose period. It’s frustrating to lose in OT. That’s the way it goes. One team has to win, one team has to lose, and unfortunately we couldn’t squeak out the two points.”
(On his mentality changing when the goal support isn’t there) “No, not really. Anytime you start changing your mindset, usually things don’t work out. You just stick to what works and try to make that next save and just break the game down into small increments and just try to make that next save. Whether you’re scoring eight or noe, you’re just trying to do your job”