The Carolina Hurricanes’ five-game win streak came to an end Thursday night in Chicago, as a poor showing on special teams led to a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks in the United Center.
The Canes fell behind 3-1 early before tying the game at 3-3 to start the second period, but Chicago ultimately came out on top to hand Carolina its first loss since Jan. 16.
Following the loss, center Sebastian Aho, defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour met with members of the media via Zoom. Here is what they had to say:
On Martin Necas’ injury: I’m sure he gets reevaluated tomorrow, but those head things, you never know what’s going to happen there. So no real update on that on this point.
On the Canes’ struggles tonight: We gave away the game in the first period. If you can’t kill penalties, you’re not going to win. To me, it was a special teams loss for us tonight. Five on five, we gave up two goals, really. But we gave up three in the first period on the penalty kill. You’re not going to win if you do that.
On the first period: They’re a fast team and they stretched us out. They’ve got skill. What happened was, we got sucked into that game. That’s not the game we want to play. We were trading chances, and it’s just not the game we need to play to be successful. Obviously, to me, the first period, they dominated mostly because we were on our heels because we were in the penalty box the whole time. And then our power play failed tonight, too. Special teams are what the difference was tonight, for sure.
On if the guys that were on the COVID list still looked sluggish Thursday: Yeah, because there’s such a high level that we expect out of them. When you sit around for 10 days and then try to jump into an NHL game, it’s going to be hard. It’ll take them a little while to get up to speed, for sure. Having said that, our mental approach wasn’t right tonight. That wasn’t the way we’ve got to play. You saw it in spurts, but it’s got to be consistent to win in the NHL. It wasn’t there tonight.
On regrouping from the loss in the middle of a road trip: Well, you’re always focused on the next day. We’ll wake up tomorrow and this game, we’ll talk about it for a little bit, but then we’re trying to get better for the next game. We’re not going to dwell on it too much. We just can’t keep having the same kind of looks of the game. There’s a way we have to play to be successful, and we have to get back to it.
On why the penalty kill struggled: It was a little bit of everything. We did have a 5-on-3 and we were doing a good job, and we had it on our stick and didn’t get it out. There you go, then it’s in your net. And they’ve got obviously a world-class player out there that really controls the power play. You can’t give them second chances. It was a bunch of things. We weren’t aggressive enough, in my opinion. We just gave them too much time, and that’s death in this league.
On playing a similar poor game as Tuesday but without the result: Yeah, I think we were bad again today. We didn’t play how we want to play, our identity. We gave up three power-play goals in the first period. That’s unacceptable. It’s pretty hard to win a game when you do that. We did a good job fighting back at the start of the second, but we need to be better. It’s a little bit of a wake-up call for us, for sure.
On adjusting to the quick turnarounds this season: It’s been a little different for us, I think, because we had that break or whatever with the quarantine stuff. I don’t know how many games we’ve had now in a row. It’s just hockey. We’ve just got to take care of ourselves as best we can, and just get yourself going as much as you can for these games. I think everyone is in the same boat. We’re playing the same teams. It should be everyone in the same situation. There’s no fans, obviously, and all this stuff going on. But we’ve got to get ourselves going.
On if the poor outing was a matter of focus or execution or both: Probably everything. We were definitely sloppy. We gave up a lot of breakaways. Our power play was very bad. Our PK was very bad. It’s hard to win when you have those things. I mean, we played them two days ago. We should know what to expect from them, and we should be able to know how to play against them. We didn’t adjust to their game, and we didn’t get to our game. We’ve definitely got to figure it out in the next couple days.
On things being stop and start for him for the last year and on how he feels: I feel fine. I don’t feel amazing. I know I can be better, and I’m trying to figure out ways to be better and get feel and get my game back to how I know I can play. Like you said, I’ve played only 13 or 14 games in 12 months. There’s some plays where I definitely feel I’m going to get better at, and I’m just trying to work every day and think about things. I’m going to try to get into different spots and feel where I can be better.
On if he felt like there was no facet of Carolina’s game Thursday that was good: Yeah, it was not the way we want to play this game. That’s it. There’s no easy games in this league. We let that go kind of. We weren’t ready from the start. That can’t happen anymore.
On seeing a teammate get hurt like Martin Necas did at the end of the game: I hope everything is good for him. I haven’t even seen him yet. I really hope that everything is OK. I didn’t see what happened there exactly, but it’s never nice to see your buddy go down. Hopefully everything is OK.