In the first game after the three-day Christmas break, the Hurricanes again failed to launch offensively. The team mostly failed to generate enough grade A chances, and the power play continued its recent struggles. But Petr Mrazek had a strong game and gave the Hurricanes a chance until the very end. He was a perfect 16 for 16 in the first period and was beaten only twice on the night.
The Capitals broke through with two second period goals. The first occurred on a combination of errors at the end of a long shift. Janne Kuokkanen tried to make a soft pass in his own end. The pass handcuffed Calvin de Haan who probably tried to hard to stick-handle instead of just whacking the puck to the corner, so the Canes could recover and defend 5-on-5. Instead, the Caps took the puck and finished quickly. The Capitals struck again on the power play when Jaccob Slavin lost track of T.J. Oshie who scored on a nifty tip.
Along the way, the Hurricanes did virtually nothing on power plays that could have evened things up a bit. But thanks to Petr Mrazek’s solid effort, the team entered the third period still in the game. When Sebastian Aho finished on a rebound on a Micheal Ferland breakaway, the team suddenly had life. The team pushed from there and mustered a bunch of offensive zone time. The best chances came when Andrei Svechnikov had the puck on his stick twice in the crease on the power play but failed to finish. That would be the Hurricanes best chance to pull even, and the Caps would ice the game with an empty-netter.
Player and other notes
1) Petr Mrazek
He deserved much better. As detailed above, he was outstanding and picked up another undeserved loss.
2) Micheal Ferland
He was unable to finish on either attempt, but he had probably his most noticeable game since his injury setback awhile back. Twice he received the puck outside the blue line with a small gap and was able to power ahead for a breakaway chance. The second attempt did result in Aho’s follow up goal. Hopefully, this game is a sign of things to come and a return to being a regular going concern offensively.
3) Andrei Svechnikov
Svechnikov had a growing pains night. He picked up an early penalty and then another for playing the puck before exiting the box to put his team short-handed for four minutes. He had issues sorting out who/what to cover off the rush multiple times in the middle of the game. And he failed to finish on two point blank chances with overtime on his stick late in the game.
With the loss the Hurricanes fell to a low point (tied with two other times) at a game below .500 and also fell to seven points (adjusted for games played) out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a 1pm matinee on Saturday on the road against the New Jersey Devils.