No doubt, Thursday’s lackluster effort and loss by the Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Thursday was tough to bear. And recent seasons have unfortunately offered too many tough nights to be a Hurricanes fan at PNC Arena.
But Thursday comes nothing close to rivaling 2 much tougher regular season home losses.
Friday, April 4, 2008 versus the Florida Panthers
After an injury-plagued, disappointing 2006-07 season trying to defend the previous season’s Stanley Cup victory, the Hurricanes regrouped and pushed for a playoff return. After a decent first half of the season, the Hurricanes limped through January and were then buried in injuries in February and March. Just when it seemed that the injuries would be too much to overcome, a cobbled together lineup with household names like Keith Aucoin, Ryan Bayda, TIm Conboy, Trevor Letowski and others seemed to find a higher gear at just the right time. The makeshift lineup stormed through most of March with a 9-1-1 record setting up a huge 4 games to close out the season and try to push into the playoffs. After passing the Capitals and even building a lead, things started to unravel. The Hurricanes lost 2 straight on the road to open the door for Washington, but a big 6-2 win on Wednesday, April 2 put the ball on the tee for the home finale on Friday, April 4, 2008. The opponent was the Florida Panthers which looked favorable given the Hurricanes’ home dominance against the Panthers that saw the Canes win 14 straight. The Hurricanes surged early, late and pretty much throughout the game firing 46 shots on net and giving up only 17 shots. The Hurricanes scored first but then trailed throughout as the Panthers mounted a 4-2 lead by the end of the second period. The Hurricanes scored late in the third period but could not find the equalizer. I remember feeling sick to my stomach leaving the arena. Ray Whitney used the word “disgusting” in his post-game interview. Technically, the season was not over. The Hurricanes still had a chance to make the playoffs if the Washington Capitals lost on Saturday, but tracking the Capitals to a 3-1 win over the same Florida Panthers to knock the Hurricanes out of the last playoff spot only rubbed salt in the wounds opened in Friday’s gut-wrenching loss.
Saturday, April 9, 2011 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning
The 2010-11 season resembled the 2016-17 season in that the Hurricanes seemingly fell out of the playoff chase in early March but then rallied. Starting with a win on March 18, the Canes went 8-1-1 in their final 10 games leading up to a home finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Along the way, the Hurricanes climbed the standings and entered the last game of the season tied with the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot but with the tiebreaker in hand. All the Canes had to do was win just like they had been for the previous 3 weeks and they would be bound for the playoffs. The team had resoundingly thumped the Thrashers 6-1 in the previous game and seemed prime to push into the playoffs. But the Hurricanes failed to start and allowed 3 goals before the first period was even over draining the building of its energy and teeing up a frustrating struggle for the rest of the game. The Canes did not score until Tampa Bay had posted a 4-0 lead and more or less won the game. Two late empty-netters were salt in the wound, and the traditional “jersey off his back” event after the game had a surreal, somber tone to it as if it was not even happening. The fans on the ice were still excited to be receiving a player’s game-worn jersey, but the players though going through the motions seemed to be completely elsewhere. The loss in a ‘win and you’re in’ game was the second in 4 years and an incredibly difficult pill to swallow in the final home game before a long, playoff-less summer.
Better days are ahead! And 2017-18 is a playoff season. It’s time!