History continues to repeat itself as the Carolina Hurricanes enter another Game 5 with it all tied up. This is eerily familiar to the Canes first round matchup with the Boston Bruins, where a myriad of penalties and a lack of offense came to bite the Canes as they play on the road.
Let’s take a look at what happened last night:
Came out strong
The Canes have yet to win a road game during their playoff ventures this year, and they were surely determined to break that streak. They came out hard, gaining control of the puck and registering a few quick shots on goal.
That’s where the momentum ended, though, I’m afraid.
Special teams struggles (again)
Carolina’s special teams were something to rave about during the regular season. Now, they’re something many fans groan about. The Canes continue to commit too many careless penalties, and they aren’t able to kill them off as effectively as they did in the regular season. Simple as that.
Their power play isn’t better, as it is rare to see the team capitalize on the man-advantage. The Canes are just 9 of their last 89 and struggle to maintain the puck and any sort of rhythm with an extra man on the ice.
“We just have to find a way to fight through it, not take the unnecessary penalties,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “After the first, we played okay, but it was too late because we spotted them a couple. Then you’re just chasing the game.”
The fans know it. The team knows it. Brind’Amour knows it. It’s something that desperately needs mending if the Canes playoff hopes can come to fruition.
The Jacob Trouba hit on Max Domi, and what ensued after, was the beginning of the end, in hindsight. Whether that hit was worthy of a penalty or not, Steven Lorentz took a five-minute major, a 10 minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for instigating due to it, and it changed the course of the game.
“You don’t want to take a penalty,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t think he was going in there to fight. He’s never fought anybody before. It’s just sticking up for his teammates which we like, you just can’t take a penalty there.”
The Rangers were able to score on that power play, and then again just a few minutes later, due to a badly failed attempt at a clear by Carolina. The first period was not a strong one, and the Canes weren’t able to get themselves on the board until it was seemingly too late for a return.
“We kind of did it to ourselves a little bit in the first,” Brind’Amour said. “We got kind of playing again, but by then it was too late. You give them two, it’s tough to come back.”
The chances were there, but chances don’t matter unless you can capitalize on them— and the Canes could not last night.
Antti Raanta ended the game with 24 saves on 28 shots, making for a. .857 save-percentage. While Raanta has been solid during this series and the playoffs as a whole, it will be interesting to see if the return of Frederik Andersen will come soon enough to tilt the starting job back in his way for the remainder of the playoffs.
Sebastian Aho did notch his first point in a postseason road game last night, tallying an assist on the Canes lone goal from Teuvo Teravainen. While Aho has nine playoff points now, eight of them come from games played at PNC Arena. Carolina will need him playing at his best for Game 6, so breaking that hiatus of scoring on the road may help.
There’s no place like home, and the Canes know that best. They are 6-0 this postseason at PNC Arena and they will return there on Thursday for Game 5. It’s a 7 p.m. puck drop, and this is an absolute must-win for Carolina.
“We know we have a big game ahead of us at home and it’s all we think about,” Aho said. “We want to win that hockey game and move on.”