It was a crazy night in Denver as the Carolina Hurricanes got into a wild west style shootout with the league’s top team falling 7-4 at Ball Arena Saturday night.
But despite the offensive explosion, the real storyline for the game is no on the health of Jordan Staal and Frederik Andersen.
Staal absorbed a big hit from Cale Makar in the third period and would not return to the game and Andersen seemed to tweak something in his lower body in the last five minutes of the game.
The captain had, yet again, put the team on his back with a two-goal performance to help spark a rally after his team went down 4-0 early in the second period and his line outbattled Colorado all night.
And although you can usually throw some blame on a goaltender when you see six-goals against, the sheer scope of failure defensively by Carolina was more to blame than Andersen.
With no new updates on the status of either following the game, Canes fans will have to hold their breaths for a bit.
In terms of the game though, there was so many breakdowns, turnovers and overall poor awareness that sealed the fate for Carolina even when the offense started to find its footing.
It was ugly early as the Avalanche’s power play made the Hurricanes’ top penalty kill look mediocre right away.
All J.T. Compher had to do was elevate the puck as a failed board battle by Carolina sprung a 2-on-1 look and Alex Newhook fed it across the crease to the American winger.
Not long after that, another breakdown saw multiple Hurricanes skaters scrambling away in the crease, but it was Nathan MacKinnon who found the loose puck for the tap in.
Then as the period came to a close, Andrei Svechnikov aired the puck out of play with one second to go, putting the team down a man again.
And Colorado would score another power play goal at the start of the second because of it. Compher again, this time on a great feed by Andrei Burakovsky.
Less than 30 seconds after that, a turnover by Ethan Bear was followed up by a loose puck that couldn’t be picked up by Tony DeAngelo and so Ben Meyers in his first NHL game, got his first NHL goal.
Carolina took its timeout then, and it was made clear that this type of performance was unacceptable.
Out of the timeout, Staal got the ball rolling for Carolina, going to the slot and redirecting a Brady Skjei shot.
And it was the captain again soon after that with another deflection from the slot. Staal won the faceoff, went to the front of the net and tipped the puck home. All in a day’s, or should we say shift’s, work for the hottest offensive player in Carolina at the moment.
Yet again, showing why he is so important to this team.
But despite the rally on offense, the defensive shortcomings kept coming for the Hurricanes. Another turnover allowed Newhook to go one-on-one with Andersen and although Andersen made the initial save, Newhook remained unimpeded and collected his own rebound to repad the lead.
Carolina kept shooting though and this time it was Sebastian Aho who found twine. After Jordan Martinook was robbed with a no-look save by Darcy Kuemper, Aho skated in and flipped the rebound into the open cage.
Carolina managed to keep the game in striking distance, but it never felt like they were going to take control.
Now the third period was the least kind of the three to Carolina. It started with Mikko Rantanen knocking one in past Andersen after the Danish netminder had no clue where the puck even was.
The Hurricanes actually did manage to score a power play goal in the game, shockingly, as Andrei Svechnikov collected a loose puck off of a blocked shot to register his 30th goal of the season.
But again, the game was never in control as MacKinnon executed a slick spin-o-rama that banked in off of DeAngelo’s skates to increase the lead again.
And as if the game couldn’t get any worse, both Staal and Andersen would leave the games with injuries. The Canes are going to face a ton of adversity as those are two huge components to their team success and either missing significant time would be a huge blow.
The Hurricanes are back in action on Monday night taking on the Coyotes in Arizona at 10 p.m.