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Hurricanes falter in PNC, suffer first shutout loss of season

The Carolina Hurricanes did not play a good hockey game Thursday night. It happens.

Ethan Bear deflects the puck away from the goal during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in PNC Arena. The Canes lost in regulation, 6-0.
Kaydee Gawlik

Meh.

Sometimes, it’s just one of those nights. The Hurricanes never really had it Thursday night in PNC Arena, falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-0 in a game where the Canes looked as rusty as a team can be.

Carolina couldn’t hit the net and couldn’t make much happen, as Columbus opened up the floodgates with a four-goal third period to blow out the Canes on their home ice. Yegor Chinakhov netted two for Columbus, while Patrik Laine, Emil Bemstrom, Cole Sillinger and Jack Roslovic all also scored.

Frederik Andersen started the game in net, but was pulled in the third period to make way for newcomer Jack LaFontaine. It didn’t go well for LaFontaine, who got hung out to dry by his defense, either, though the goalies could have allowed one goal and still lost this one.

Elvis Merzlikins was phenomenal on the other end of the ice, handing the Hurricanes their first shutout loss of the season with a 31-save effort. Carolina certainly could have made it tougher on Merzlikins, but the Latvian netminder still made a handful of stunning saves along the way.

The Canes actually started things pretty well, controlling the puck for the first few minutes, but found themselves down 1-0 after Bemstrom swatted in a rebound just under nine minutes into the game.

Carolina nearly went down 2-0 a few minutes later as a puck got by Andersen, but Brady Skjei came into save his goalie on the line. The second period came to a close with both teams getting some good looks and both goalies making some exceptional saves, with this double save from Merzlikins the absolute highlight of the opening 20 minutes.

The period came to and end with another great save by Andersen, which was followed up by pure chaos on the ice. Multiple scrums broke out between the two teams, with Andrei Svechnikov and Tony DeAngelo the two members of the Hurricanes most involved.

The second period resembled the first in a lot of ways, with Carolina doing some good things with the puck but simply not capitalizing on its chances. The Canes got shot after shot off, but consistently missed the net. When the Hurricanes did hit the net, it was often in Merzlikins’ wheelhouse, with the Columbus netminder really only having to go out of his way to make a save a couple times in the middle frame.

As Carolina didn’t take advantage of its opportunities, the Blue Jackets did. Following a flurry of chances for the Canes right in front of the crease, Columbus got out on a breakaway and Chinakhov buried a one-on-one chance to make it 2-0.

The teams played two scoreless 4-on-4 segments in the second period, the first to start it off after the first-period skirmish and the second after Teuvo Teravainen got hooked and also called for embellishment. The Canes also killed off an Ethan Bear penalty late in the frame (and early in the third).

The floodgates opened in the third period, and not in the good way for the Hurricanes. Carolina had a bad turnover, as Tony DeAngelo made a bad pass to Nino Niederreiter, who turned it over. Columbus took advantage, as Laine unleashed a one-timer past Andersen to make it 3-0.

The Blue Jackets made it 4-0 less than a minute later, as a puck bounced off Sebastian Aho and right to Chinakhov, who bagged his second.

Carolina made a goaltending change, bringing on LaFontaine for his NHL debut, and it went immediately awry. Another turnover led to a breakaway chance for Sillinger, who beat LaFontaine just seconds into his first appearance with the Hurricanes. They made it 6-0 later on, with LaFontaine again getting left alone.

The Hurricanes will play again Saturday afternoon at home, as they play host to the Vancouver Canucks.