Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche could rank as the most frustrating one for the Hurricanes this season. The volume of good things that the Hurricanes did especially offensively was easily great enough to win a hockey game, but some combination of a quick burst of catastrophic mistakes and a great game by opposing goalie Semyon Varlamov were enough to put the Hurricanes in the loser column on the night.
In many ways, the game was a mirror image of the Hurricanes win in Edmonton early in the season. Against Edmonton, the Hurricanes were outshot and outplayed by a wide margin but rode a strong night by Cam Ward and an uncanny knack for finishing the handful of grade A scoring chances gifted to them by Oiler breakdowns. On Thursday in Colorado, the reverse happened. The Hurricanes were the team winning the territorial battle and throwing a ton of shots at the net only to be victimized by a few costly mistakes.
Notes on the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche
1) The fast and furious first and third periods
The Hurricanes outplayed the Avalanche by a wide margin in both the first and third periods but actually won neither period. A soft goal allowed by Ward to go with another made for a 2-2 first period, and the Semyon Varlamov show made for a 0-0 third period. In both periods, the Hurricanes had multiple players play well and saw multiple scoring chances generated.
2) The fateful second period
But the Hurricanes were undone by a short but impactful stretch of hockey in a bad way in the second period. In the span of about five minutes.
–Klas Dahlbeck was caught forward. The situation started harmlessly enough with Victor Rask rotating back to cover Dahlbeck’s place. But then Noah Hanifin accidentally tripped Rask to make it a 2-on-1, and then Hanifin just kept backing up before making a well-timed lunge toward a shooting lane which made for a wide open passing lane and a Colorado goal.
–Jaccob Slavin was beaten to the outside by such a wide margin that Rantanen was able to carve a quick path right back to the front of the net. No one else arrived to help soon enough and that too resulted in a goal.
–Coach Bill Peters decided to tempt fate and challenge an offsides call. The result was a penalty that led directly to another Avalanche goal when Slavin was slow to take away time and space which made for plenty of time for a pass to an Avs player breaking to the front of the net in front of Trevor van Riemsdyk.
–Along the way, Slavin and van Riemsdyk had another misadventure that was a near miss. Fleury also failed to take away the pass on a 2-on-1. And Hanifin had another ‘iffy’ play.
The implosion was short-lived but at the same time catastrophic. After playing a strong first period but not really being rewarded by the 2-2 score exiting the first period, the Hurricanes were suddenly down 5-2 in a game that they were winning in so many ways.
3) Hope for carry over offensively
One could nitpick the quality of the Hurricanes shots in total or possibly the lack of getting to the crease to create havoc while shooting, but in total the game was a strong one offensively. Perhaps a silver lining could be a carry over offensively. Victor Rask notched another goal beating Varlamov on a bad short side goal early in the game before Varlamov dialed in his game. Elias Lindholm also scored. Derek Ryan took of his invisibility cloak once separated from Jeff Skinner and had a strong second half of the game playing with Josh Jooris and Sebastian Aho. Aho is another who found a noticeably higher gear for the first time in awhile.
4) Grading the blue line
I go back and forth on whether the bad breakdowns were as numerous or as bad as they seemed or if they were just amplified by the fact that seemingly each and every one of them turned into a goal against. I guess that is a topic for Friday discussion. By no means was van Riemsdyk perfect, but he seemed serviceable in a top pairing slot. Surprisingly Jaccob Slavin’s play had a couple costly ‘oopses,’ and the rest of the blue line gets a similar rating that tries to somehow average out the fact that the players fared well in the open ice game but also had a couple tough miscues that played a huge role in the outcome of the game.
5) Results matter
The loss marks the third in a row for the Hurricanes and pushes the Hurricanes below .500 for the first time on the young season. Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes now takes on greater importance.