The Hurricanes seemed to start okay, and early Micheal Ferland fight maybe helped make sure everyone was dialed in. But whatever early energy the Hurricanes may have had was sapped by ongoing special teams struggles. First, the Hurricanes failed to really even muster a push with consecutive power plays that also offered 29 seconds of 5-on-3 time in the middle. Then the New Jersey Devils scored on the power play and then again late in the period. When the dust settled after the first period, it was difficult to really tell if the Hurricanes started well or not because everything was buried underneath the special teams woes. In addition, the Hurricanes had dug a two-goal deficit.
As I said on Twitter after the first period ended:
If @NHLCanes had an Achilles' heel coming into this game with 3-game winning streak, the power play and special teams in general would be it. Positive is that there are still 2 periods to play. #TakeWarning
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 10, 2019
The Hurricanes responded in the second period. Dougie Hamilton scored through a determined screen by Sebastian Aho, and the Hurricanes seemed to have death wish for goalie Keith Kinkaid in the crease. First Jordan Martinook whacked him under the mask with his stick trying to hit a puck out of mid-air. Then Justin Williams ran him over carrying the puck to the net. The Hurricanes had other chances but were unable to net the equalizer. On the other side of the ledger, the Devils did not muster their first shot on goal in the second period until 14 minutes in.
The Hurricanes entered the third period just one good play away from a tie game after the rough start. And the Canes did have chances. Teuvo Teravainen had a chance from point blank range. And an Aho shot found the net but was (rightfully) waived off when Kinkaid was interfered with. And the game plodded along until a flying Devils forward blew past Justin Faulk in the neutral zone and created a 2-on-1 and ultimately a pass across and a goal. Teuvo Teravainen would net a power play goal with 1:27 left to revive hope. But the Hurricanes were unable to net the equalizer.
The Hurricanes were not going to win out for the rest of the 2018-19 season, but nonetheless this was a game that the Canes would like to have back. The Devils are last in the Metropolitan Division and had played the day before.
Player and other notes
This line continues to be very good. They factored in on the Dougie Hamilton goal, and were consistently a going concern offensively throughout the game.
2) Special teams
There are always multiple factors in the outcome of a game, but if you had to pin this loss one thing, it would easily be special teams/power play play in the first period. The overlapping failed power plays sapped the team’s energy. It is not just that the team is not scoring right now. It is also that the power play is so sluggish at times that it seems to slow down otherwise good pace such that the team actually needs to recover from power plays.
3) Jaccob Slavin
He had another strong game using his speed and a bit of desperation to nullify a couple chances that looked much more dangerous before he got involved.
4) Looking forward to a HUGE road trip finale
Critical right now is for the team to turn the page and focus on the next game. With a win, the road trip is still a success at 4-1. With a loss, a road trip that started 3-0 against tough competition would end with a treading water-ish 3-2. The game is a winnable one against the Senators who are the bottom team in the Atlantic Division. But the Hurricanes need to look no further than Sunday’s loss to the Devils or a home loss to the same Senators in late January to be reminded that there are no gimmes in the NHL.
Next up is a Tuesday match up in Ottawa to wrap up the road trip.