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About Last Night: Hurricanes struggle to pluck Leafs

The Carolina Hurricanes just couldn’t get it done in Toronto last night, falling 5-2 to the Maple Leafs.

Sebastian Aho is thwarted by the right pad of Ilya Samsonov.
Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes once again struggled against the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they lost their fourth matchup in a row, 5-2 at Scotiabank Arena Friday night.

All night long, the Canes got to listen to Hall and Oates drag on about ‘Making Dreams Come True,’ but unfortunately it wasn’t Carolina’s dreams that were materializing.

Let’s take a look at some of the good, the bad and the ugly from last night.

The Good: Scoring Defensemen

With their two best natural goal scorers sidelined with season ending injuries, the Hurricanes were going to need a bit more contribution throughout the lineup. Luckily, the blueline decided to take it upon themselves this season to pick up that slack.

Carolina has the highest scoring defense in the entire league, and that’s being led by Brady Skjei who’s having a tremendous season. Coming into this season, he had a career high of nine goals and after last night’s tally, he’s up to 14.

Add in the likes of Brent Burns and Shayne Gostisbehere, who each have 12, and you’re getting a ton of contribution from the backend. Every skater in the top four has at least 20 points on the year and even the bottom pair have 12 points each.

To make up for the losses that Carolina has sustained and the dry streaks a few of the forwards are on, the Hurricanes will have to keep relying on their elite defense to carry that load.

The Bad: Penalty Kill Streak Killed

After a slow start for both, the Hurricanes’ special teams had been turning the corner for them as of late. Currently, the Canes have the second best penalty kill at 83.6% and since the start of the new year, the seventh best power play in the league at 23.3%.

However, both of them faltered last night.

The Leafs scored on their lone power play opportunity as John Tavares shot the puck in off of Auston Matthews, a shot that would have been going well wide.

It’s a little heartbreaking that that was the shot that beat them as the penalty kill was chasing a little bit of history. Carolina had gone 12 straight games without conceding a power play goal against and the franchise record was 13 games in a row set during the 2014-15 season.

With the goal against, they have to settle for the second best streak.

The power play also looked all sorts of out of sync last night.

The first one was very poor and while the second one did strike the post thanks to a Teuvo Teravainen shot, the third one wasn’t great either.

Losing Svechnikov is a huge blow to the power play and Carolina is going to have to regroup and figure out how to make up for the loss.

The Ugly: Goaltending

What the Hurricanes haven’t had from their netminders this season is consistency. One of those factors is availability, with each of their three goaltenders missing significant time throughout the season, but the other factor is consistent play.

While all three have had really good stretches of play, they’ve also had tough stretches where it seems they can’t make those key saves.

Last night Pyotr Kochetkov could hardly be blamed for all five goals against, but twice he was beaten off the rush, blocker-side high.

It’s been two tough games for him, losses to New Jersey and Toronto now, but Frederik Andersen hasn’t fared much better either.

In the month of March, not a single Hurricanes goaltender has a save percentage over 0.900 and that just won’t cut it when the scoring is also taking a dip.

If Carolina wants to be successful, they need more from the netminders.