It is that time of year when NHL hockey is very much a results business. Any kind of two points is success, and any kind of zero points is mostly failure. And though the team maybe deserved better, that was the Hurricanes’ fate on Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche.
The game was generally a strong one for the Hurricanes. I really think you are just looking for one more big save from goalie Anton Forsberg to get the game to overtime or maybe better defensive zone coverage on that same play. But in general, one really cannot fault the Hurricanes effort level and quality of play.
Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche
The first period was pretty even throughout. The Avalanche scored when Jake Gardiner had trouble handling the puck/keeping his balance just inside the defensive blue line while trying to corral the puck. The result was Tyson Jost retrieving the puck, going right past Gardiner and sniping a goal past Forsberg. But in total, the Hurricanes first period was decent or better. The Canes had a shot trickle off the outside of the post and another ring the far post. If one or even better yet both of those shots find the net the game is a different story after one period. But there were still positives in that Forsberg was pretty sound and that the to line led by Aho was dangerous on many shifts. But the Avs netted a 1-0 lead after one period of play.
The Canes dialed their game up in the second period. The good guys had some extended stretches of controlling pay and forcing the Avalanche to just clear the puck to change lines and play defense again. But the Avs did a decent job of defending the front of the, goalie Francous was some combination of lucky and good and the Hurricanes received nothing to show for their generally strong second period play. Matters became worse when Jost struck again to put the Avs up 2-0. A failed soft clearing attempt by Andrei Svechnikov was intercepted at the blue line. From there a quick pass put Jost in alone, and he finished on Forsberg. Despite generally playing a strong second period and having the upper hand for most of it, the only tally of the period pushed Colorado to a 2-0 lead to end the period.
Entering the third period down 2-0 despite playing pretty well and clanging a few posts, it felt like it was not going to be the Hurricanes night. But the Hurricanes kept pushing and were finally rewarded when a Teuvo Teravainen shot found Svechnikov and an Avalanche defenseman tangled up in front of the net. A great keep in by Brady Skjei started the play. Aho made a quick pass to Teravainen. And Svechnikov played a role in Teravainen’s shot trickling across the goal line courtesy of the Avs player’s stick. Then, only 2:01 later Teravainen scored again when he beat goalie Francous off the rush to tie the game at 2-2. The Avalanche regained their footing a bit after the second Canes goal, but the Hurricanes were again the better team. The game seemed destined for overtime and at least an OTL point, when a costly miscue tilted the game back in the Avs’ favor. With four players from each team on the same side of the ice, Svechnikov got caught watching the puck a bit resulting in a pass to the other side to send defenseman Samuel Girard in alone. He beat Forsberg to put the Avs up 3-2 with only 2:37 remaining. That is how the game would end.
Player and other notes
1) Anton Forsberg
Oh to have one more big save in the third period to get to overtime, but in general Forsberg played decent or better. All of the three goals he allowed saw an Avs player in alone behind the defense. Further, Forsberg was steady and calm early which I think helped the team in front of him.
2) Brady Skjei
I was negative on the trade for Brady Skjei on Monday which makes it even more important to be objective in assessing his play. He was incredibly good on Friday. He had at least two plays (one on MacKinnon) where he defended and neutralized speed off the rush in a 1-on-1 situation. He joined the rush for two good scoring chances, one for himself and one where he fed Nino Niederreiter. He had the key keep in on Teravainen’s second goal. And in general, he was strong in all three zones both offensively and defensively.
3) Andrei Svechnikov
Despite not registering on the score sheet, Svechnikov had a strong game offensively, but the other side of the coin was a tough night defensively for Svechnikov. He took a tripping penalty. His failed soft clear led pretty directly to Colorado’s second goal. And his brief pause that saw him forget about his coverage responsibility for the back-breaking final Avalanche goal. The challenge of playing on a top line especially on nights where either coach plays best on best some is that there is no room for even the smallest of lapses. Svechnikov had a couple too many of those on Friday, and the Canes paid for it.
4) Teuvo Teravainen
Teravainen had one of those nights where the puck kept finding him for scoring chances. In addition to his two goals, he twice had the puck on his stick with a chance to shoot from between the face-off circles. On the first play, he inexplicably passed to Aho for a much lower probability shot. On the second, he mishandled at the offensive blue line with a breakaway chance waiting. He also had a couple other decent shot attempts. But he did score twice in the third period to get back in the game.
The top line continues to be dynamite offensively.
5) Results matter
As noted toward the beginning, we have very much reached the point in the season when results trump all else. In that regard, Friday was a failure.
The weekend now sets up like last weekend with the Hurricanes failing to capitalize on home ice in the front part of a back-to-back and now needing a big road win on Saturday, this time in Montreal.