The lack of quality offensive production and troubling finishing woes in the last two outings have seen the team fall quickly into a 2-0 hole as the series will now shift to Tampa Bay where the Hurricanes will fight to try and keep their Stanley Cup aspirations alive.
Following the loss, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, as well as captain Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov spoke to the media via Zoom. Here’s what they had to say.
On getting to the front of the net: They’re a good team obviously. I don’t know. There was sometimes tonight where we didn’t get there, but we had lots of good looks. A couple of empty nets we blew past. We just looked back at the chances quickly. It was a pretty good game. Played pretty hard and again, we’re playing the best team in the world and going toe to toe. That’s what it feels like for sure. Certainly not getting overwhelmed. Just didn’t get a break. Past two games we were just fighting trying to find that one. Haven’t been able to get it. But I’m proud of the group. They’re working so hard and like I said, we’re doing everything we’re trying to do, it’s just we haven’t got that little breakthrough yet.
On the next game up mentality: We’ve gotta get one. But these guys know we aren’t just going down there to win one. We want to win every game we play. Yeah, we’ve gotta get one first. It’s obviously going to be tough. It was tough here. The narrative is going to be, ‘Oh you lost two at home,’ but that’s not the picture that I’m painting. I think we played damn good, worked extremely hard, were right there and they got a couple of breaks that went their way. They worked for them, they’re a great team, but I’m proud of our group. How hard they’re working and sticking to what we do. I feel like we’re right there.
On pulling the team up: We’ll have a good little meeting tomorrow and pick the pieces up, but again, I don’t feel like we’re getting outmatched one bit. A play here or there is the difference. Their first goal is kind of a throw at the net that goes in. We had plenty of opportunities, especially early. I don’t know. Our third period wasn’t probably as great as I would like to see it, but I think there’s a lot of positives to draw on moving forward.
On Vincent Trocheck’s status: That’s probably the negative of the whole thing. It doesn’t look good. I don’t know exactly the extent of it at this point, but he obviously couldn’t continue. That’s never good. You know he would play if he could. That’s another challenge that we’re gonna have to overcome. But I’ll know more tomorrow hopefully.
On the frustration of not really having an area to blame for the loss: That’s why these are harder losses. In Game 1, I thought if we weren’t the better team, we were close. Certainly had more scoring chances. I don’t know what they were tonight, I’ll have to go look, but it felt like a very similar game from my standpoint. So what more can you do? Yeah, we’re going to try and tweak some things and get better here and there and adjust a little bit. But if you had said to me that we were going to give up 15 and 20 shots to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I’d probably say, ‘Really? That’s pretty good.’ There’s a lot of positives here, but unfortunately, we’re down 2-0. That’s the negative. We’ll take it one game at a time here and see where it goes.
On Andrei Vasilevskiy: He’s world class. There’s a reason he’s... What is he? Gonna win the Vezina or supposed to? He should. He’s clearly dominant. You’ve gotta just keep shooting pucks. That’s it. Yeah, you’ve got to try and get in front of him, but there were a lot of pucks we fired at him that we were in front of him and they were in front of him and traffic was everywhere but still he’s able to get to them. That’s another piece in their puzzle that makes them elite. Just gotta keep trying.
On what the Hurricanes need to do to beat Vasilevskiy: I think we’re right there. A lot of our shots were from the outside. They did a good job of clogging it up and not giving us much junk around the net. As forwards, we have to get in front of this guy and get in front of the net and get more guys there when the puck is going there. They do a good job of clearing it after the first shot, but if we get more guys there, we’re going to get a bounce and the puck will start going in for us.
On how they can bounce back after two tough losses to start the series: We believe in our group. Those games were tight. We’re going to have to go in that building and play the same kind of game they played here, and that’s not giving them much and just playing a good road game. We have to find a way to get a win. As forwards, we have to do a better job of getting to the net. We gotta score more than one goal, it’s plain and simple. We’ll start with that, have a good road trip here, and hopefully come back tied.
On what needs to be done, as a leader, to help the team not get down on themselves and not let outside noise impact them: You can’t let it run through your mind. You basically have to go simpler. The day-to-day. Believe in what we’re doing as a group. Once you’re in the game, go shift-by-shift and all those little things that you’ve done all year long, and all your life. You have to stick with it. You can’t let those things creep in you mind. You have to believe in your group - and I know I do. We’ve got better, though. We have to be a lot better in certain situations and in certain things. We will be, and hopefully we can turn the tide here.
On if something needs to change: We all know that [Vasilevskiy] is one of the best goalies in the world. It’s hard to score against him, but we probably have to put some screens against him and shoot more pucks.
On if he feels that the team has done enough to disrupt Vasilevskiy: Not really, but we’re going to do that next game. Obviously we didn’t do that much these last two games, but we’ve got to do that more for sure.
On what the late-goal does for his confidence heading to Game 3: Nothing to be honest with you. We lost this game. We’ve gotta focus on the next game and we all know it’s 2-0, but for our team, it’s never give up. We’re going to try and win the next two games.
On missing Nino Niederreiter: He’s a huge part of our team and we all know he can shoot the puck and score goals. We miss him a lot.