The final home game of the regular season at PNC Arena didn’t give the fans much to cheer about as the Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime on Thursday night. The highlights of the night were goaltender Petr Mrazek’s great performance, and Martin Necas’ top-shelf, short-handed goal in the first period.
Other than that, there was a lot left to be desired. Defensive lapses led to one breakaway opportunity after another. It seemed that all night the Blackhawks were able to get high-end opportunities on Mrazek, who turned each one away until the very end of the game.
The Hurricanes did tie the franchise record last night with a point for making it to overtime. They now have a point in 13 consecutive games (9-0-4).
Let’s talk about last night.
Yes, Petr Mrazek didn’t get the win last night, but for 57 minutes he was exactly what the Hurricanes were hoping for. As stated earlier, the Blackhawks were able to get in the offensive zone and to the net relatively untouched throughout the night. That led to quite a few breakaways and clear shots on goal for Chicago. Mrazek turned them away, several of the saves extremely tough ones. Fans will remember the late third period goal and overtime winner for the Hawks, but Mrazek did his part up until then.
Necas doesn’t suck anymore
Not long ago, Martin Necas stated in a press conference after the game that he had “sucked” in recent games. On Thursday night he got the Canes on the board early on a short-handed goal in the first period. Necas was able to get in alone and backhand a shot over goaltender Collin Delia on the Blackhawks’ power play due to an unfortunate and odd incident.
While the Blackhawks were in the Canes zone on the power play, Duncan Keith tried to keep the puck in the zone. He went to his knees, but the puck went out of the zone. The linesman jumped up on the wall in front of the bench to get out of the way, but Keith’s head collided with the linesman’s knee, creating the breakaway attempt.
It was Necas’ third goal in three games, another Hurricane that is getting hot at the right time.
Defensive lapses frustrate everyone
It isn’t often that we criticize the defensive efforts of the Carolina Hurricanes. It pretty much never happens, but their effort last night deserves criticism. This isn’t one of those hot takes either, it was everyone that noticed it.
Here is head coach Rod Brind’Amour after the game: “It was the first two periods, giving up breakaways, two-on-ones, breakaways, no coverage. Just sloppy all over.”
Martin Necas also spoke about it: “We had some chances, but we gave up way more. I don’t even know how many breakaways they had. And 2-on-1s. Just can’t happen. We had some chances, but they had way more. We were lucky today that we got the one point.”
Good morning Canes, this is your wake up call
It was probably a good thing that the Hurricanes lost that game last night. Hear me out, they still came away with one point, they can still wrap up the division with a Dallas win tonight over Tampa Bay, or a win in Nashville tomorrow.
The Canes are on a 13 game point streak, a franchise record. They are having their best season since the Stanley Cup run of 2005-06. The world isn’t ending after one bad game. But that performance showed the team and coaches that effort will not be enough to win in the playoffs.
“We needed to get our butts kicked, to be quite honest with you,” Brind’Amour said. “Just so we can show, this is not how it works. And I say that, and we still probably had maybe close to the same amount of good scoring opportunities, but it’s not good enough. We can’t play like that next week, that’s for sure.”
The Canes are now off to Nashville where they will wrap up the regular season against the Predators with games on Saturday and Monday. If Dallas beats Tampa Bay in regulation tonight, the Canes will be the Central Division winners, if not they control their own destiny and a win over Nashville in regulation or overtime (depending on the outcome tonight) wins them the division. The President’s Trophy scenario got a little more complicated with the overtime loss last night. Vegas now can win the trophy if it wins out in regulation, but it still is up in the air between Vegas, Carolina and Tampa Bay.