The Carolina Hurricanes were sitting pretty in game four of their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then, in the blink of an eye, they weren’t. The Canes saw a 4-2 lead go by the wayside in a 6-4 loss that has them on the brink of elimination trailing 3-1 in the series.
Jaccob Slavin, Jesper Fast and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media after the loss, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On what kept the Canes from holding on for the win: We took too many penalties.
On the discussion on the bench of the second-period penalties: There was definitely frustration on there. We knew coming in you can’t take penalties against these guys and we were taking them. So I think there was some frustration on the guys’ part and mine. They were penalties, but there were definitely some the other way that were getting let go. I think that’s where the frustration was happening, but you can’t take the penalties. No matter if you’re getting calls or not, you can’t take the risk.
On if getting goals against Vasilevskiy is a positive: Not really. I think that was an opportunity where maybe he wasn’t his sharpest. We scored four on him. We needed to win that game. He’s probably not going to let four in again. So I just think, again, we weren’t sharp and then we got going and the penalties killed us.
On if the team felt like it was going to break the game open up 4-2: The first period wasn’t great, but like I said, obviously we fought back and then we were in good spots. Obviously the penalties are what turned the game. I didn’t like the [Jordan Martinook] penalty, I don’t know what else he’s supposed to do there. That’s a pretty clean hit, he just rubs the guy. I don’t know. That led to a goal, and then we piled on with some penalties that were penalties for sure. Like I said, that’s the game, in a nutshell. We can cut it any other way you want it. Can’t take six penalties, and that’s what happened.
On if he felt like the Hurricanes gave up too many odd-man rushes at 5-on-5: We gave up too many. I didn’t look at the shot totals tonight. We were pressing at times, for sure. 5-on-5 wasn’t our issue. I don’t know what game you’re watching if you think that was the issue.
On how the Lightning improved on the power play as the night went on after a good first few kills: You can’t give them too many cracks at it. They don’t need a lot of opportunities. If they get one, it’s going in the net. If they get a good look, they have guys that can finish. That’s the story. You can write anything else you want. You can talk about it, but that’s the story there. You can’t take those penalties, and we did.
On Mrazek’s good start to the night and if his finish to the game will impact their decision for who starts in game six: I don’t know. We’ll look at it and make a decision on that day we play or the day before. He was good early, for sure, because we weren’t the best at the start. That’s for sure.
On if they considered making the switch to Alex Nedeljkovic for the third period: We consider it all the time. He’s a battler, and we know he doesn’t want to come out of a game like that.
On giving the Lightning too many power plays: We took some bad penalties tonight, and like you said, when you give that caliber of power play that many chances, it’s not a recipe for success. We just have to stay more disciplined, and play hard but play smart as well, and not give them chances that they don’t need.
On missing an opportunity with Vasilevskiy shaky: Definitely. You put four on him in a game, and like the question before, special teams was the big factor tonight, and we didn’t win that battle. When you get to this point of the year, special teams are things that win you games, and we have to make sure that we’re dialed in on both sides, power play and penalty kill.
On the emotional swing of the second period: Hockey’s a back and forth game, and especially when you’re playing that caliber of team you’re going to have those ebbs and flows to the game. Like you said, yeah, when you score four in a game, you’re feeling good, and then the momentum kind of swings, and you can’t let that happen. Just like the questions before, specialty teams are what got us tonight, and you take those out of the game and it’s a different game out there. Emotionally we’ve just got to stay in it. We’ve got to continue to do what we can do to control what we can control, and that’s our work ethic and how hard we’re battling. Everything else is just going to come as it comes. We’ve got to be smarter out there, and just continue to work hard.
On the PK troubles: I think if you just give that caliber of power play that many chances, they’re bound to get some bounces. There were a couple of bad bounces out there, I think the first power play goal off the crossbar was just a funky bounce. But you give them that many chances...you just can’t give them that many chances.
On the odd-man rushes at even strength: They know how to play the game the right way. They’re above the puck, they’re on the D side of things, and we’ve just got to do a better job of managing the puck from our side of things and making sure our forecheck is working the right way. As defensemen we have to be a little bit smarter on when we pinch and when we don’t pinch, and making sure we have forwards back so odd man rushes don’t happen, and just making sure we’re above the puck. Our game is hard work, it’s puck pressure, and we have to continue with that but just make sure we’re a little more sound.
On why they couldn’t finish off the win: We’ve got to be way more disciplined. They came out hard, but in the second period we started to take over and we had the momentum, and we made it too hard on ourselves by taking too many penalties.
On the bench message and emotions in the second: We have to prop ourselves up. We have to kill this off. That was our focus every time we went on the ice. They’re really good on the power play. Like I said, we have to be way more disciplined than we were today.
On the positives taken from the game: I think at 5-on-5 we played good. I felt like we did a lot of good things. I really believe that if we play our way and stay out of the box, we’re going to turn this series around.
On what the 2nd period was like on the ice: We wanted to come out harder than we did in the first period, and I felt like we prepared the right way, we got a goal. They pretty much scored right after, then we got to 3-2, 4-2, and we had the momentum. It was pretty quick there when they got all the penalties and they scored three straight goals. It’s tough, but we’ve got to find a way to bounce back, and unfortunately today we didn’t.
On the belief in the room needing to beat the Lightning three straight: 100%. Like I said, I fully believe that if we play our way and stay out of the box, we’re going to turn this series around.