The Carolina Hurricanes tasted defeat for the first time on Saturday night, and they were dominated from start to finish.
From allowing four goals in the first period to an injury to backup netminder Antti Raanta, it would only be truthful to classify the game as an overall disaster.
Carolina broke its nine-game winning streak and is now 9-0-1, still tied for second in the league. A loss at some point was inevitable— it just would’ve been nice for the Canes to see it play out in a different fashion.
With that being said, let’s keep it short and sweet and talk about last night:
A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start
Frederik Andersen made his ninth start of the season last night. He’s been phenomenal so far, but the first period was definitely not his best showing.
But let’s not pretend that the play in front of him was good. It wasn’t. The defense struggled big time and puck possession was a real issue during this first period.
But unfortunately, Andersen was the one in net last night and he suffered the consequences of bad special teams play.
In the first 20 minutes, he allowed four goals on 15 shots, three of which were during the Canes penalty kill. He looked choppy and his rebound control was less than stellar. This was unprecedented for Andersen in this year’s sample size. Before last night’s game, his GAA sat first in the league at 1.50 and his SV% was a phenomenal .949 (second in the league). He has been the Canes hero thus far this season.
So when Andersen had a rough start, he was given the benefit of the doubt. But after four goals allowed in the first period, Brind’Amour pulled him and Antti Raanta was put in for his second time on the ice this season.
He played well, saving all four shots he faced, until he and Ryan Lomberg of the Panthers had a dangerous collision and Raanta headed off the ice.
After the game, Brind’amour said that Raanta seemed fine, but it’s likely that he’s concussed.
Andersen returned after the injury to Raanta, and was back to his old self, making leaping saves left and right and stopping every shot he faced for the rest of the night.
“He actually gave us a chance to come back in the game,” Brind’amour said.
He ended the game saving 23 of 27 shots faced, with an .852 SV%. It was not what Canes fans are used to seeing from their netminder, but they can’t expect perfection from Andersen, especially with his heavy workload so far.
Special teams disappointment
Before last night’s game, no one could disagree with the fact that the Canes had one of the best special teams in the league. Their penalty kill was ranked third in the league at 90.24% and their power play was ranked fifth at 26.47%. It was impressive.
Last night did not follow that same trend, as the team took six penalties and allowed three Florida power play goals, for just a 50% success rate. This was a drastic decline that proved to heavily impact the course of the game.
The Canes are also taking too many penalties, period. This has been a source of concern all season, but their PK units have been strong enough to take care of business. This game highlighted many of the underlying issues that have yet to be addressed, specifically regarding special teams.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we’re staying out of the box, and that’s something that we’ve struggled with as a team over the past couple seasons, so just making sure we’re disciplined in that area,” said Jaccob Slavin.
Another newbie debut
Defenseman Brendan Smith, who signed a one-year deal with Carolina this past offseason, made his Canes debut last night. While he didn’t end up on the score sheet, his presence was clearly noted. He was a key part of the special teams from the start and ended the game with one shot and three hits in 11:48 of ice time.
“He’s a physical presence on the ice and he plays a hard game,” Jaccob Slavin said.
While Smith didn’t make many mistakes on the ice, Brett Pesce’s absence was clear as day. Injuries are hindering this team’s success, and Pesce is one key player that is much-needed.
Playing from behind
From 2:28 into the game to the very last second, the Canes trailed. This was just the second time this season that the Canes were behind by two goals or more, and at one point last night, Carolina let in four unanswered goals. This was the sixth time this season that the opposing team scored the opening goal of the game. It’s normal for the Canes to start slow— just not this slow.
“We can’t dig ourselves in that kind of hole,” Slavin said.
The Canes struggled to capitalize on power play opportunities, which was largely due to Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight, who played a superb game. Jesper Fast was able to get the Canes on the board seven minutes into the second period with the help of a beautiful pass from Slavin, and Vincent Trocheck was able to score a gritty tip-in off Andrei Svechnikov’s puck to make it 4-2, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.
“It’s a 60 minute game, not 40, so we’ve got to come out a little better than we did,” Trocheck said.
This marks the end to a historic season-opening win streak for the Canes, as they fell one victory shy of tying the all-time record, which was set by both the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.
Jarvis impresses in first few games as a Hurricane
There wasn’t much to see as a positive from last night’s game, but rookie Seth Jarvis’s play was definitely a bright spot.
“He’s competitive and makes plays,” Brind’amour said. “He’s been solid, really solid. Three games in and he’s looked good pretty much every shift. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do and that’s why he got more and more ice time tonight.”
In his first three games, he’s scored one goal on four shots, and currently has a +13 corsi.
He doesn’t just pass the eye test, his stats reiterate what we’ve seen on the ice.
The Canes don’t have to travel far, as they remain in Florida to play the Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-2) on Tuesday to finish off their road trip. With a few days of rest, hopefully the Canes can get back on track and end the excursion with a win.