RALEIGH, N.C. – Did they chase the game early?
Was it the kind of result Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour was worried about?
“Yep,” he said again before continuing into his most pointed critique of his team this season following a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at PNC Arena on Friday night.
Despite goals from Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn and Sebastian Aho, the Hurricanes were unable to pull off the comeback.
The loss denied them a valuable two points in a highly competitive battle for a playoff spot in the NHL’s Eastern conference.
“Terrible, terrible. Not acceptable. To come out and play like that for two periods…two-and-a-half periods to be honest with you. They were good, I give them a ton of credit. They played the way they had to – they played desperate, they played fast – they did everything we said they were gonna do. And we weren’t ready to match that.”
You can’t always get what you want
Even following a 10-day respite as a result of the NHL All-Star break, Carolina didn’t have its game going the way it needed to against an equally rested and motivated Vegas squad playing for new coach Peter DeBoer.
Everything was slow according to Brind’Amour and he stated that, in his opinion, up to half a dozen ‘no shows’ contributed to an effort that left them outshot by a 37-25 margin.
Golden Knights backup goaltender Malcolm Subban’s 22 saves earned him his seventh win of the season on the front end of a road back-to-back set for the Golden Knights while No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury served a one-game suspension for missing the All-Star game.
Falling behind 2-0 by the midpoint of the opening period on goals from Golden Knights Paul Stastny and Jonathan Marchessault, the Hurricanes had some chances despite only testing Subban with six shots during the frame.
A wide-open dunk opportunity for Canes alternate captain Jordan Martinook on a Justin Williams feed from below the goal line was quickly denied by Subban’s pads.
Play reversed course and soon led to Vegas’ first goal.
It turned out to be that kind of game.
“They did what we wanted to do,” Martinook said.
“We wanted to get pucks in, not play in your own end and tire yourself out. We dug ourselves a hole and it was hard to dig out of it.”
Pull! Pull! Pull!
Teravainen’s 11th goal of the season pulled Carolina to within one at the 9:55 mark of the second period.
The 18,150 in attendance kept up their energy heading into the third, hopeful of the resurgence their team would make, as it had done many times before.
A goal from Nate Schmidt quieted that enthusiasm until McGinn’s snipe and Aho’s redirect just under four minutes apart evened the score at 3-3 with 3:39 to play.
It looked as though they were ready to climb out of the abyss, but a hooking penalty to Aho gave Vegas the opportunity to plunge the final dagger into any final comeback hopes.
Alex Tuch’s seventh goal of the season pinned the Canes’ shoulders back down, and even with 2:28 remaining, it wasn’t enough time to pull even again.
“That’s hockey,” Martinook said.
“Pressure time, we need a kill. There’s a lot of things that happened there that are out of your control a little bit. That’s hockey – you gotta find a way to battle through that stuff and try and kill that off, push back when they score on us.”
Notables: Carolina finished 1-2 on the power play, 34-157 (21.7%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 2-3, 149-179 (83.2%) overall…Teravainen’s two points (1g, 1a) gives him five points in his last two games. He leads the Hurricanes in assists (39) and points (50) through 51games this season…Justin Williams and Haydn Fleury each posted an assist on McGinn’s goal and each has earned points in back-to-back games.
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