RALEIGH, N.C. – It’s a sight that Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters doesn’t want to see much longer.
The Hurricanes gave up two goals in a two-minute span and suffered a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena on Friday.
The Wild swept the two-game season series and the coach was at a loss for how his team played.
Hurricanes starting goalie Anton Khudobin finished the game with 16 saves, but was left to fight against unchallenged passes, second chances, and a turnover that his team couldn’t help him successfully defend.
Right from the opening puck drop, Carolina didn’t look like it was ready to compete against one of the hottest teams in the NHL as the Wild had won seven of their last eight coming in, and eventually won their fifth straight.
Minnesota claimed a 1-0 lead in the opening period when Charlie Coyle scored his eighth of the season at the 11-minute mark, beating Khudobin with a one-timer off a Nino Niederreiter centering pass.
The Wild outshot the Hurricanes 8-5 during the first 20 minutes of play.
“I didn’t think we had anything going in the first,” Peters said.
“We didn’t have any energy, didn’t have any jump, didn’t have any execution, so it was easy to be better in the second and third than we were in the first; but disappointing way to start the game.”
Peters made changes to his lines which yielded better results.
“Yeah, you know we just couldn’t continue to watch it the way it was,” Peters said.
“It wasn’t workin’ obviously and some guys didn’t look comfortable playing with others, so we went back to some things we’ve had in the past and it seemed a little bit better.”
After Jeff Skinner threaded a pass to him in the slot, center Riley Nash evened the score with 4:42 remaining in the second when he snapped the puck past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who eventually made 37 saves to win his 27th game of the season.
In scoring his eighth goal, Nash ended an almost two-month scoring drought, having last scored on Jan. 10 in a 5-4 overtime loss at St. Louis.
“Yeah, that felt pretty good,” Nash said.
“It’s been a long time, so it was a nice pass by Skinny. A great play overall.”
The game was the NHL debut for recently called up Hurricanes defenseman Rasmus Rissanen who finished with a game-high eight hits, but took some time adjusting to the speed of the NHL game compared to that of the American Hockey League (AHL).
He finished with minus-2 rating.
“After a couple of shifts, I felt comfortable,” Rissanen said.
“It was a little bit faster, I thought. Guys are making plays faster and skating harder than in the AHL…I try to hit as much as possible, that’s my game. Every time I get a couple of hits, I get my game going on.”
Unfortunately for the rookie, whose parents were watching in the stands, his debut came under circumstances which his coach was trying to figure out on a bigger level why the team had underperformed.
“I didn’t think we were very good in general, so I didn’t think we gave him much support,” Peters said.
“I thought we looked unorganized and disinterested, so you know, I thought he was fine and I didn’t think he stood out in a negative way at all.”
Following a 5-2 road loss to Chicago on Monday, Peters wondered aloud what had happened, particularly after having ample time to prepare for the Wild, a team they hadn’t lost to at home – until Friday night.
“We used to be this hard-working, honest group,” he continued.
“We haven’t been the last two times out.”
Back-to-back goals from Mikael Granlund and Zack Parise during the fourth and sixth minutes of play in the third period put the finishing touches on an efficient shooting effort from Minnesota, even as Carolina fired twice as many pucks at Dubnyk as the Wild put towards Khudobin.
When asked why he thought his team had lost its spark, Peters wasn’t sure, but stated emphatically it wouldn’t last long.
“I don’t know. We’ll have to get it figured out because we’re not gonna’ watch this 19 more times, I know that.”