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About Last Night: Canes lose shootout heartbreaker

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in the shootout at PNC Arena Saturday night for their third-straight loss.

Carolina netminder James Reimer checks the net after Columbus Blue Jackets’ Oliver Bjorkstrand scores in the shootout, Saturday, Mar. 21, 2021 in PNC Arena. The Canes lost in a shootout, 3-2, for the first time since March 2018.
Kaydee Gawlik

Well, the Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in extra time again.

It had the same “riveting” excitement as the last one, but this time managed to get all the way to the shootout where the Canes fell 3-2 Saturday night at PNC Arena.

The Canes still have the next two games against Columbus to look forward to, but let’s take a look back at last night:

Call and Response

The loss last night felt even more brutal for the Canes because every time they got anything going, Columbus was right there to suck the life back out of the game.

Let’s relive it (I’m sorry about this).

  • Andrei Svechnikov breaks his goal-scoring drought by getting to the net and grabbing a greasy one to get the ball rolling.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes start the third period by having a defensive breakdown and Oliver Bjorkstrand just skates in and tosses the puck towards the net where it goes in off of Dougie Hamilton.
  • Warren Foegele gives the team a lead late in the third with another hard-fought, in-close goal.
  • The Hurricanes surrender the tying goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game after a turnover behind the net (and illegal stick pass) ends in a Seth Jones top corner snipe.
  • Sebastian Aho waits just long enough to get a puck across to Martin Necas for a sure goal on a 2-on-1 in overtime.
  • Elvis Merzlikins robs him.
  • Carolina is undeservingly awarded a power play opportunity in overtime and Hamilton hammers it home to give his team the win.
  • The play was actually offsides, no goal.
  • Hamilton leads off the shootout with an early score and Reimer stops the next two Blue Jackets skaters.
  • Svechnikov then misses the net on his chance to end it and Patrik Laine scores to extend the shootout.
  • Then Nino Niederreiter is stopped and Bjorkstrand wins it.

But hey, they got another point at least, so it could have been worse, I guess.

Columbus’ Style

The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t winning many fans with the way they play: boring, grindy hockey that just mucks up the offensive and neutral zones and capitalizes on counter attacking as opponent’s try to force plays through.

It’s not necessarily a winning style, but it’s not a losing style either. It’s weird to see such a style being employed when the team has players like Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Patrik Laine, but it does the job well enough to keep games close and hopefully squeak out a win and that’s exactly what it did last night.

The Canes are a better team, but due to their lack of size and physicality, the style Columbus plays really levels the playing field.

The Canes were on the right path with both Svechnikov and Foegele’s goals — gritty, in close and taking advantage of rebounds and a scrambly netminder — but there just wasn’t enough of it.

The Canes easily outchanced Columbus and were the more dominant team, but that doesn’t matter much to a team like the Blue Jackets who just clog up the lanes and simply wait for their chances rather than driving play the other way.

With the next two games still being against Columbus, the team needs to figure it out and fast.

Finally, a little bit of depth

While the Hurricanes have once again — for the fourth straight game mind you — only managed to score two goals, at least they weren’t from special teams or Sebastian Aho.

Dougie Hamilton at least looked good (not) scoring a goal, so his return to form is warmly welcomed, but he did manage to get an assist on the Hurricanes’ second goa, moving him into a tie with Mark Howe for the longest point streak (11 games) by a defensemen in franchise history.

It was also great to see Svechnikov getting on the board as the Canes desperately need him to go on a tear, especially with Vincent Trocheck and Teuvo Teravainen set to miss extended time.

The Canes had been operating as a one line team for the past few games with Aho, Niederreiter and Necas putting in the majority of the goals, so if the Canes can get their pseudo-second line to start scoring, it will be a massive blessing.

And Foegele continued to be an impactful player against Columbus. For a guy who has struggled to remain noticeable this year, he has been at his most effective when playing the Blue Jackets. A goal this game and a good effort last game — outside the overtime gaffe — puts him up to two goals and five points in five games against them so far.

Moving forward though, with a grindy team like Columbus, the Canes are really going to need guys like Jordan Staal and Nino Niderreiter being much more involved as their physicality and ability to get to the front of the net will be crucial.

The two energy lines, aka the bottom six, are also lines that should be trying to make more of an impact to try and knock off the pressure that Columbus tries to force by hitting and forcing pucks to the net. That simple, but much more needed.

Parting Thoughts

Maybe Brind’Amour needs to try a bit of line juggling. I’ve liked Aho and Necas together so keep that, but why can’t someone like Morgan Geekie try to play up in the lineup with some of the higher end players. He was a skill guy in the AHL and I think putting him on the fourth line doesn’t really play to his strengths.

The team is in a bit of a scoring rut and they’re going to be without some of their top talent for a few more games at least so giving different guys some looks couldn’t hurt, because after all, these guys are supposed to be the future.

Either that or it may be time to get a trade going.

The deadline is fast approaching, and being able to both not worry so much about quarantine time and getting guys acclimated earlier rather than later I feel can be a boost, especially with the team in a bit of a slide right now.

The goaltending and defense should be fine (fingers crossed, knock on wood), but the offense just needs a small infusion at wing. Right now the team is touting too many energy and role players throughout the lineup and could use an infusion of scoring.

Oh, and if you weren’t already bummed about the loss, it was the Hurricanes’ first shootout loss in a very long time. Three seasons in fact. They had won their last 10 shootouts, with the last loss before that coming in 2018 with Scott Darling in net.