The early going of the Hurricanes versus the Flyers on Sunday night matched the worst possible fears. The Hurricanes just could not find any jump after playing and traveling the night before, and the rested home team dominated early. The early part of the game was basically the mirror image of Saturday’s strong Canes win that saw Carolina faster to pucks and more aggressive all night.
But the Hurricanes were reasonably sound defensively even when hemmed in and under duress, and they found enough opportunistic scoring plays to have a chance. And Cam Ward was sound and solid enough to covert it all to a win.
Or so it seemed.
After surviving a sluggish game overall, surviving a tough night for the officials and seizing a 3-2 lead in the second half of the third period, a late freak goal forced overtime. And we as Canes fans know how that ends.
The Hurricanes did earn another overtime loss point in failing for the sixth straight time to collect the extra point in an overtime game, but 1 point was not enough especially when they seemed to have 2 in hand.
Recap of Hurricanes 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers
As noted above, the Hurricanes had nothing for jump after playing and traveling the night before. The Flyers took control of the game early, dominated through about the first half of it and really never really gave up control for more than a few shifts here and there. When rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov fired through an unintentional screen by Jaccob Slavin and beat Ward in the final minute of the first period, the Flyers were finally rewarded for dominating the first period and seemed likely to be off and running. The Flyers finished the first period up 1-0 on the score board and 15-4 in terms of shots on goal which for me was a fairly accurate account of how the first period went.
When Dale Weise scored 11:03 into the second period on a goal mouth scramble, it looked like it just was not going to be the Hurricanes night. But the Canes hung around and then found a couple big plays to get back into the contest. First, Jeff Skinner was waiting in the right place when a Noah Hanifin went wide of the net and caromed off the end boards to the front of the net on the other side. Skinner quickly pulled the puck to his forehand and finished to get the Hurricanes within a goal at 2-1. Then with barely over a minute remaining in the second period, Victor Rask mostly won a puck battle on the end boards on his own dump in. Phil Di Giuseppe retrieved the puck and made a quick and accurate tape to tape pass to Elias Lindholm between the circles. Lindholm finished, and the Hurricanes somehow got out of the second period tied at 2-2 despite being outshot 29-13 and outplayed by about the same margin.
The Hurricanes did 2 things pretty well through 2 periods despite being outplayed. First, they mostly avoided horrible defensive breakdowns in their own end which meant that Ward at least had a chance on the shots he was facing. And Ward was sound and solid through 2 periods, making savings, taking whistles when possible to slow things down and providing some stability despite a tough night in front of him.
The Hurricanes entered the third period with a chance and looking for some combination of surviving defensively and a big play or 2 offensively to steal a win. And they came real close to getting both. Just past the midway point in the third period, the Hurricanes got a big opportunity on the power play. When Lindholm retrieved a puck at the side of the net and made a nifty short pass right in Jordan Staal’s wheel house, Staal scored to stake the Hurricanes to a 3-2 lead and a chance to steal a huge win. But with less than a minute to go a couple odd caroms broke Hurricanes fans’ hearts and sent the game to overtime. From behind the net, Travis Konecny shot off of Brett Pesce’s skate. Pesce was a tiny bit slow getting turned the right way to make sure a deflection went back behind the net. And Ward was a tiny bit slow getting to the near post such that the puck went off Pesce and then off Ward finding a small hole and a game-tying goal with only 43 seconds remaining in the game.
Overtime followed the recent losing pattern that has seen the Hurricanes lose six straight extra hockey games. Early in overtime, the Flyers won the puck in their own end and rushed up the ice. Teuvo Teravainen was forced to defend like a defenseman. He backed up initially giving Sean Couturier with the puck time to build up a head of steam coming at him. Couturier blew right around him to the front of the net. Then Jaccob Slavin found his way into the picture for the second consecutive overtime loss. Slavin got caught watching in no man’s land. He really did not come hard at Couturier to defend his rush around Teravainen. He really did not stick with the player he was defending who eventually scored. And he really did not come to the front of the net where he could clear a rebound.
Generally speaking, picking up a point on the road in a game like Sunday’s when a team just not have the fuel is not a bad thing. But on the other hand, converting a late 3-2 lead into only a single point just is not good enough.
‘What I’m watching’ follow up
If you missed the preview and want to catch up, you can find it HERE.
1) Legs and jump
My concern in terms of energy level proved to be well-founded. The Hurricanes never really did match the Flyers in terms of skating except for a shift here and there. Important to note is that I would not in any way chalk this up to lack of effort. This one is simply a matter of the scheduling and something that every team has to deal with in some games.
2) The top guns
After shortening the bench in Saturday’s win and riding the top players, Peters balanced ice time on Sunday trying to find some energy from the depth players. Some of the Hurricanes better players on Saturday found themselves in the middle of the scoring plays against on Sunday. In terms of a skater rising up, the nod would go to Elias Lindholm who scored the tying goal and had a pretty assist on what was almost the game-winner.
3) Your turn now – goaltending
The leader for much of the night was Ward. He came within 43 seconds of playing the biggest role in stealing a win for his overmatched team.
Sebastian Aho: He had a rare tough night. He had a bad turnover right out of the gate and a couple more puck-handling mishaps later. And though he appeared to be tripped just prior to it, he picked up a delay of game penalty that gave the Flyers a 5-on-3 power play and then had a face-off violation penalty later. Peters moved him to the center position at about the midway point starting work on another of my March/April wishes, so it will be interesting to see if that carries over to Tuesday against Florida.
Failed opportunities in overtime: The Hurricanes have now lost 6 straight in overtime and the shootout. Even an average 50/50 split and 3 more points would be huge right now or 4 if the team took 4 of 6. By the same token, the Hurricanes are now 6-13 in overtime on season. A 50/50 split would again yield 3-4 more points which would make a big difference.
Lee Stempniak: I continue to like his game. He is not racking up a ton of points, but he continues to play well.
Elias Lindholm: As noted above, he had another strong game and a big night in terms of scoring production to boot.
Next up for the Hurricanes is game #2 of 4 on the road this week against Florida on Tuesday.