The Carolina Hurricanes’ return to PNC Arena Sunday afternoon didn’t go as they would have hoped, as the Canes dropped a physical contest to the rival Washington Capitals, 4-2.
After a really strong opening period, the Canes faltered in the second, letting Washington take a 2-0 lead. Carolina battled back, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nino Niederreiter tallied in the third to tie the game, but couldn’t hold on, with Washington scoring on the power play late.
Following the loss, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho spoke with members of the media.
Here is what they had to say:
On ending the game with the two penalties: It’s a tough way to end a game, you’re right. It was a great game, great hockey game. I thought we had a great third period. We just did everything we could. It’s unfortunate. What are you going to do? It’s tough to go. The first penalty is a penalty, for sure. We blew our coverage there. We didn’t do any of that in the whole period, and then all of a sudden we take a breath. And that’s what they do to you. We give up a breakaway and take a penalty. And then the other one, I get it. But that’s a tough call when you’re down one. It’s a nothing play. We actually have the puck. We’re getting it. I get it, why they call those. But it kind of felt like their guy called it. He kind of gave the yell at the ref, and then they decide to call it. It is what it is. That’s a penalty, so you can’t do it. That’s your game. That’s the frustrating part for everybody. It was a great game, and it ends like that. They kind of took it out of our hands. It is what it is.
On if he felt like the way they were officiating the game changed: Yeah, that’s my point. You want to let the guys that are out there decide it. That’s not what happened, I guess. But it is a penalty. By these rules, you’re not allowed to hack a guys stick, even though, like I said, it wouldn’t have mattered. Do you wish they would have let it go? Yeah. But if I’m on the other side I might be saying it should have been a penalty. It is what it is.
On the intensity of the rivalry picking right back up: Listen, that’s a great, great team. They give you nothing. You had to earn every chance tonight. I felt like for two periods it was just dead even. Even though we were down two, I felt the game was dead even. They got a lucky bounce, and that happens. They capitalized on one. We didn’t on a couple of our chances. That’s what was going on in the first two, and then in the third we gave up one chance on a 2-on-1 with bad coverage and it went off the post. That was about all they had. I thought it was a great third, good job coming back. Obviously we hate to lose it, though.
On Kotkaniemi’s offensive progression: Yeah, he played good. That line has been great for us. We just need to keep having him play like that, and it’s going to be good.
On the team’s performance and the challenge Washington presents: I thought we came out strong, had a really good first period. We kind of dictated the game most of the time and obviously got a couple of goals. We fought back, which was definitely great. At the end of the day we couldn’t get the penalty killed.
On if it’s tough to take when the game is called loosely for two periods and then is called tighter at the end: Yeah, absolutely. At the beginning they let everything go, and then all of a sudden they started calling everything. It is how it is. I can’t talk much about the refs though, so I’ll leave it at this.
On if they’re just looking for consistency from the officiating: Yeah, absolutely. If you call one thing on one team, then you’ve got to make sure you call it on the other. The biggest thing is consistency. That’s always something that we’re looking for. If you decide to let everything go from the beginning, then you better make sure you let it go through the rest of the game.
On how good it was to get back on the scoresheet and on him picking the same spot as Kotkaniemi: At the end of the day, I try to shoot wherever is open. I’m glad it went in. It’s obviously good to get on the scoresheet, but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough to win the hockey game. That’s the bad part about it.
On the team’s performance coming off the tough road trip: Yeah, those things are just excuses if you go to the schedule and stuff. Every team has here and there some stretches that are not ideal, obviously. It’s 82 game, so you can’t feel fresh for every single one of them. I was just happy to play in front of the great crowd again. It was a good battle. Two good teams out there.
On the intensity of the rivalry picking right back up: Yeah. The way I see it, there’s two teams that compete hard and have high skill both ways. There’s a little bit of history there. So yeah, for sure they are good high-intensity matches.
On if he thought he slashed at the end: I don’t know. He made a call. That’s it. You can’t do anything about it, so I don’t want to say anything. Obviously he’s trying to do his job as good as he can.
On if that’s a tough way to lose though: Yeah. Frustrated a little bit because we were doing good on the penalty kill all night. I felt pretty confident that we could kill that again and have a little push at the end or OT or whatever. But yeah, 5-on-3s are tough, especially because they have some pure scorers in their lineup.
On if the Canes played their best game: No. I mean, there’s so many things we can improve. The power play was one of those things that we definitely can do better. I wouldn’t say that we were bad, but we know that we can be better.
On fighting back from 2-0 down: Yeah. The third period I thought was a pretty good period overall. We got two goals and came back in the game, so it’s always nice when you can do that as a group.