RALEIGH — No one at PNC Arena, in all likelihood, had any animosity toward Josh Archibald before Sunday’s game, but the sellout crowd left the rink cursing the name of the Edmonton Oilers depth forward.
Archibald scored twice, matching Sebastian Aho with two goals, and despite the Hurricanes coming from behind to tie the game late they couldn’t get the job done, falling to the Oilers 4-3 on Sunday afternoon.
Trevor van Riemsdyk wasted no time getting the home squad on the board, rifling a seeing-eye shot past Mike Smith just 12 seconds into the game through traffic in front of the net provided in part by Aho. The goal was the third-fastest in franchise history and the fastest since Shane Willis set the club record with a goal nine seconds into a November 2000 game against the Senators.
But it seemed that the goal came a bit too early for the Hurricanes to really gain any consistent momentum from, and just as Andrei Svechnikov exited the penalty box after a high-sticking penalty Leon Draisaitl cleaned up a rebound from the left side of the goal mouth to tie the game at 6:28. Once the Oilers tied the game, they started tilting the ice, and had the Hurricanes back on their heels for most of what remained in the first period.
A late Adam Larsson slashing penalty carried over to the second period, and though the Hurricanes couldn’t convert on that, it wasn’t long after when Jaccob Slavin found Aho for an inch-perfect pass that sent Aho in on a breakaway. The Finn made no mistake, going high over Smith’s blocker to give the Canes the lead back.
A few minutes later, Archibald and Nino Niederreiter came to blows with Erik Haula jumping in to defend Niederreiter, who was without a stick. Each player got two minutes for roughing, although Archibald somehow emerged unscathed despite clocking Niederreiter earlier in the sequence. The crowd, already incensed at a number of missed calls, had even more reason to get salty after Kailer Yamamoto tied the game on a power play with 5:27 remaining following a very questionable Haula hooking penalty.
It got worse. Archibald, already having earned the crowd’s ire once, did so again 28 seconds later on a wacky bounce of a shot that went off the post, off James Reimer’s skate, and backwards into the net to give the Oilers the lead.
Reimer, who saw a four-game personal winning streak snapped, was helped by his posts a couple of times in the third period, keeping the game within reach for his teammates. It was long enough for - who else? - Aho to come through again.
The line of Aho, Svechnikov and Teravainen, in five games together, has posted 22 points, and the game-tying goal involved all three. Svechnikov drove behind the net, looking like he was going to circle the net, but instead just before he went behind Smith he fired a pinpoint pass into the slot for Aho to finish off in front of Yamamoto, who was totally turned around on the play. Each team played conservative the rest of the way, wanting to preserve the point that they both got by going to overtime.
In the extra session, Aho and Svechnikov nearly combined on the game-winner, with Aho missing a hat trick thanks to Smith sprawling to make an unreal save. That sprung the Oilers going back the other way, and with Aho defending Leon Draisaitl on a 2-on-1, Draisaitl got the puck through to Archibald in the slot who opened up Reimer and won the game at 3:57, giving the Oilers a huge win and leaving the Hurricanes to rue their missed chances and inability to close things out.
They Said It
That was one of those games where I thought we had to dig in, and I thought we did. The game was 2-1, I thought it was going okay, it wasn’t great but we were in good shape, then a couple of iffy calls and I think the game just flipped - and that happens. But I thought our guys showed real good resolve in the third. It was business. I thought we probably deserved better. Obviously, to fight back, we got some real good looks on the power play, and to get the goal to tie it up. And then overtime - we just looked at it, we had basically two or three grade-A tap-ins, and it just happens not to go that way. You’ll take that.
That’s the question (balancing the lineup with the SAT line going so hot). We had some good looks with the other lines, too, in the third - the first two periods, not as much going there, but that’s the magic question. I think if they’re continuing to score, then it’s a no-brainer (to keep them together). If we can just get the power play to click here, which tonight I thought was good. We were good on the entries, we had a couple good looks, it just didn’t happen. So if we can start cashing in there, and I thought the Haula line had a couple good looks there in the third. We’re going to need everyone to contribute if we want to keep moving forward, but right now if that line keeps scoring, I think you have to keep it together.
That’s a huge hole we’ve got back there (with Hamilton out). I don’t know if we’re getting enough credit for the guys who are stepping in and doing a pretty good job. Tonight especially, a couple games here and there that ended up in the net, a weird bounce on the second one on a power play we’re actually killing pretty well, then we block a shot and it ends up on their guy’s stick. That’s going to happen. I think all the guys - I think Fleury’s really stepped up, and the other guys too. Again, you’re not going to fill (Hamilton’s) shoes, and that’s a big hole.
The fourth line guys are tough right now to get anything. (Dzingel) got out there, he had his chances, it’s just not going for him right now. But the positive is, in the small amount of time he’s out there, he has a positive impact. He just didn’t get it to go in.
That’s just the game. Sometimes the pucks bounce your way, and sometimes they don’t. It’s unfortunate. You hate losing games, but at least we battled, we got a point, and (Smith) played unreal in overtime. Kudos to him. We grinded out a valuable point. It is what it is, I guess.
I thought they played, for the most part, a pretty clean game. I think honestly it was just two good teams. They got the last look, and that’s the way it goes. I don’t think tonight was anything too special. They got pucks in deep and grinded in the first, and we took over in the second and third, their paper got some breaks, and that was kind of the game for me. Obviously it goes to OT and it’s anyone’s game, and unfortunately we couldn’t just put it away.
It was on the back door, pretty close, inches away to get that winning goal, but we weren’t able to do that, and obviously they had one chance in the OT and they scored.
It’s not just that, we want to play two-way hockey and not give them anything. One goal should be enough if we don’t let them score any. We probably play against other top lines, so it’s a good matchup for us.
(Do you feel like you let one get away?) Kind of. I feel like 5-on-5 we played a good game and were better than them, but obviously on the power play we didn’t do a good enough job. There were some big moments in the third period. Obviously it’s a good thing that we can come back. We have the feeling on the bench that we can come back, that’s a good thing, but when we have those moments - PK, PP - we just have to do a little bit better job.
Obviously they have high-end players, the top scorer in the league - Draisaitl, and a few other guys too. They have the chemistry, they move the puck well, and they shoot the puck when it’s time.
- That was one of the games that as a fan, you might not have been as optimistic about as Rod Brind’Amour was. The players were noticeably more downtrodden than the coach, and one wonders if Brind’Amour is trying to keep the mood up in the locker room by focusing on the positives. There were some, to be sure, but that game didn’t seem to me like the “we were right there and the bounces didn’t go our way” narrative was the right fit.
- Leon Draisaitl has 94 points in game 59. Good lord.
- I think this team missed the presence of Jordan Martinook today, not necessarily on the ice (where his role was filled admirably by Haula and Niederreiter tag-teaming Archibald in the second period) but in the room. Granted, the Canes are 3-1-1 with him out, but this game seemed like one where Martinook would have made a difference.
- The officiating was bad. Real bad. Michael Jackson bad. But you know what? It was horrible both ways; the Oilers would have had a legitimate reason to throw things if Aho had won the game in overtime, given a blatant trip that wasn’t called to spring the 2-on-0.
- Could the Canes have won that game? Absolutely. Should they have? Probably. Did they deserve to? I don’t know. That top line firing on all cylinders is covering up a whole lot in the bottom nine these days.
- They’re back on the ice tomorrow at PNC for practice at 11 before flying to Nashville for Tuesday’s matchup with the Predators.