Looking to get off to a good start on a four-game road trip, a special teams affair and sleepy start were exactly what the Hurricanes did not need. Coming into the game, the Coyotes penalty kill ranked second in the NHL, and significantly the Coyotes had scored six times shorthanded which matched the six power play goals scored by the Hurricanes coming into the game. Those statistics would come into play early. Lackadaisical play by Justin Faulk and Micheal Ferland with the puck loose in front of their own net saw Brad Richardson retrieve the puck and quickly put it behind Petr Mrazek to put the Coyotes up 1-0 early on a shorthanded goal. Shortly thereafter, the Coyotes struggling power play would tally. The goal was yet another where the opponent scored off the rush before even setting up for the power play. With problems aplenty right now on the penalty kill, that one stands out to me as something that should be correctable. Right now, it is just too easy to fly through the neutral blow by the weak wall at the blue line. The book is out there and it is being read and exploited on a regular basis at this point. The Coyotes would quickly add an even strength goal. Very quickly a ‘meh’ start turned horribly bad with three goals in four minutes. With the 3-0 deficit to end the first period, one has to wonder how many Caniacs stayed up to see the better part of the game that was yet to come.

To start the second period, Rod Brind’Amour finally capitulated and shook up the lines, and the Hurricanes were better as the game wore on. But playing well and riding a hot streak Antti Raanta looked sharp defending a three-goal lead. Finally after a series of stellar Raanta saves and an even crazier diving save by defenesman Ilya Lyubushkin, the Hurricanes finally broke through midway through the second period when Lucas Wallmark threaded a puck across the front of the net to Faulk on the end line. Faulk finished off of Jordan Martinook’s skate from a tough angle. The goal was just reward for a strong surge. The Hurricanes continued pushing, were the better team for the remainder of the second period but were unable to put the puck behind Raanta again in the second period.

Early on, the third period looked like the old and bad version of the Hurricanes outshooting the opponent but not getting results. As Arizona played defense-first hockey and settled for occasional opportunistic chances, the Hurricanes quality of scoring chances seemed to decline. The Canes did muster a brief furious surge on a power play in the front part of the third period, but the majority of the other shots were low-quality chances from the outside. But just when the team seemed to be dying a slow death at the end, magic happened. First a Jaccob Slavin dash up the ice ended with a pretty Svechnikov tip in to pull the Hurricanes within a goal with 6:18 remaining. Then a Brock McGinn shot through Jordan Staal-created traffic also found its way behind Raanta. Suddenly, the game was tied at three goals apiece. The Hurricanes had another strong power play and a couple more good chances before the game pushed to overtime.

Warren Foegele almost had a good chance off the rush, but the puck seemed to slide off his stick. Shortly thereafter the Coyotes scored off the rush to win 4-3 in overtime.

All in all, you take the overtime point in a game where the Hurricanes failed to show up for the start and paid for it.

As I said on Twitter, the game increases the significance of Saturday’s follow up in Las Vegas.


Player and other notes

1) Special teams deficit continues to cost points in the standings

The penalty kill was minus one. The power play was minus one. The Hurricanes lost by two. It is too late to re-tally the difference in points in the standings with even special teams scoring, but the total is rising.


2) Petr Mrazek

When the Hurricanes started slowly, Petr Mrazek had nothing for answers to keep his team in the game until they could get going. The Hurricanes pushed back and made something of the night, but the early three-goal deficit hurt. Somewhat like Tuesday’s start by Darling, Mrazek was pretty good for half of a game. That just is not enough at the NHL level. And as has been the case too often, the goalie at the other end of the rink was better. Next man up should be Scott Darling’s second start of the season in Las Vegas tomorrow night.


3) Sebastian Aho’s streak ends at 12 games

With an incredible start to the season that has seen him steadily play at a high level regardless of the team’s ups and downs, even Sebastian Aho was pulled into the mess on Friday. He had a run of turnovers on the couple power plays in the first period and took a bad offensive zone penalty while on the power play late in the second period. Most significantly, his 12-game assist streak ended with him tied for the record with none other than Wayne Gretzky.


4) Andrei Svechnikov

Once Brind’Amour shuffled the lines to start the second period, Svechnikov’s game picked up playing alongside Sebastian Aho and Micheal Ferland. He had a few near misses both on the power play and at even strength in the second period and generally found a higher gear. Sure enough, after a couple decent chances earlier, Svechnikov scored late to pull the Hurricanes within one. Here is hoping that Brind’Amour rides Svechnikov’s higher line audition a bit longer. The Canes need more scoring right now, and he seems like as good of a possibility as anyone to find a higher gear.


5) Warren Foegele

On an off night when the Hurricanes were a bit slow out of the gate, Warren Foegele stood out positively. By early in the second period, he had drawn three obstruction type penalties by aggressively hounding the puck. He was not as noticeable as the game wore on but still deserves credit for being one of the few who seemed to hear the opening bell.


6) An interesting contrast

The Coyotes are an interesting comparison for the Hurricanes. Both teams were 2018 lottery entries and thought to be a ways away heading into the season. Like the Hurricanes, the Coyotes are deep and pretty solid even if maybe unspectacular on the blue line with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers. Also like he Canes, Arizona is young and arguably undermanned at forward with a number of promising young players but light on proven high-end scorers. But the striking difference is in net. During the game of goalie musical chairs during the summer of 2017, the Coyotes landed Antti Raanta who has been solid since being acquired. The Hurricanes and Coyotes are in a pretty similar place in the standings right now. It will be interesting to see how each team fares as the season wears on.


7) The definition of insanity…

When I posted an article last week suggesting that the time was here for some lineup changes, it triggered a debate about whether that was premature. I would be curious to see the reaction to that article if instead posted on Saturday morning. Brind’Amour did shake things up a bit for the second period, but I think he might have been a couple games too late. But with the seal broken, hopefully Brind’Amour will strike a balance between patience and also recognizing early on when things are stale.


Next up for the Hurricanes is a quick turnaround and another late night game in Las Vegas on Saturday night.


Go Canes!

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