In what has become such a prevalent storyline already this season (decade?), the Carolina Hurricanes struggled to get the better of their opponent despite outshooting and outchancing them by drastic amounts.
This time it was the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, who the Canes tried to beat into submission with an onslaught of vulcanized rubber, outshooting them 48-15 and outchancing them 83-31, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
Despite that dominance, the Hurricanes ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 overtime final at PNC Arena Thursday night.
At 5v5, it was all Hurricanes and with a little better puck luck, they ride off into the sunset with a convincing win.
But add in special teams to the equation, which has been struggling on both sides, and all of a sudden, the Canes can’t find a win that should have been so easy to grab.
The power play once again sputtered out on multiple chances. The first two chances were forgettable and despite the second two really putting the pressure on Colorado, there was no relief to be found.
It’s not like the unit doesn’t get Grade-A chances; Seth Jarvis set up Sebastian Aho for a backdoor tap-in, that Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz exploded across to rob him on and Andrei Svechnikov rang the post on a great look.
The power play gets chances, it just doesn’t get goals.
Maybe one element that is missing is a healthy and contributing Teuvo Teravainen who last season led the team with 31 power play points. Whatever the reason is, the Canes are losing games because the power play can’t buy a goal.
That isn’t the only struggle for Carolina either, as the penalty kill is nowhere near as potent as it once was. The goal against – which is the 14th power play goal the Hurricanes have allowed this season – came from a misplay along the boards that set up Evan Rodrigues between the circle for a spinning snipe.
The other kills were solid, but the one blunder left the team trailing.
It was also a blunder that made the team trail a second time after Sebastian Aho had worked so hard to drag the team back into the game with a shot through traffic to tie it up at one a piece.
Off an offensive zone faceoff, Martin Necas lost sight of his assignment and Alex Newhook was sprung on a breakaway on a stretch pass from Josh Manson. Newhook had all the time and space to get in close and deke around Raanta to put his team back ahead.
However, Necas did manage to redeem himself in the third period, finding the second equalizer after outwaiting Francouz.
The Hurricanes were gifted a power play to end the third period, a shining chance to win the game, which they floundered, and then Jaccob Slavin and Seth Jarvis tried to force a play, allowing an odd-man break for Colorado against some tired bodies.
You can figure out what happened next. Artturi Lehkonen, one-timer. Nothing that Antti Raanta could do, in fact it really wasn’t on him for any of the three goals despite facing so few shots. He had to make some tough saves and he was left out to dry on the ones against.
Carolina isn’t dead in the water and they are still dominating at even strength, it just needs to figure out the power play. Somebody needs to make the play and get the ball rolling if they want to be a dominant force.
Long story short, the way they play isn’t something to be concerned about, there’s just one aspect of their game that needs to improve for them to be a juggernaut.