By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes took their eye of the puck once too often, and suffered a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the New York Rangers at PNC Arena on Wednesday.
Before they knew it, the Hurricanes trailed 2-0 following two shots on net, and after just two-and-a-half minutes of play.
The lone bright spot in a game in which Carolina outshot New York 32-27 was forward Sebastian Aho who extended his goal streak to five games, while goaltender Scott Darling suffered the loss.
It cost them two points in the Metropolitan Division standings, a bad defeat that left a sour taste in the players’ and head coach’s mouths.
“Like I said before, they all suck,” co-captain Jordan Staal said.
“It doesn’t really matter how you do it. When they’re tight, they hurt, and when they’re blowouts they suck too.”
When asked how to forget a performance like that, during which they were outworked much of the game, coach Bill Peters said, “You don’t.”
“We were slow to pucks. We were (slow) defensively, and that led to lots of D-zone coverage. We didn’t really close on anybody, and when we did close, we weren’t physical enough to put an end to it.”
Chris Kreider opened the scoring for the Rangers in the opening minute when he tucked in a cross-ice feed into the slot from Brendan Smith that made it past the sticks of both Carolina defenders Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.
Trailing 1-0, Carolina had still not recovered when Mika Zibanejad flipped the puck high towards the net from the neutral zone and caught Darling off-guard.
The netminder looked to make a routine pop-fly grab, but lost sight of it and turned as it sailed under the crossbar and bounced off the mesh to extend the Rangers lead to 2-0.
Carolina took advantage of a New York penalty for too many players on the ice when Aho sniped a one-timer from the left faceoff dot and pulled to within one.
Scoring his fifth of the season, Aho got the feed that beat Lundqvist from Teuvo Teravainen, the reigning NHL Player of the Week.
Teravainen’s assist extended his current point streak to five games after defenseman Justin Faulk initiated the play.
Trailing 2-1, the Hurricanes looked to even the score, but Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist, who made 31 total saves, denied them long enough until Paul Carey scored his first of the season to reestablish the Rangers’ two-goal advantage, leading 3-1 with 9:13 remaining.
Both sides kept Darling and Lundqvist busy during a scoreless second period as the difference remained at two goals.
While afforded four more power play opportunities throughout the game, Carolina’s inability to convert with the extra man was costly.
New York adjusted its man-down play and denied clear passing lanes into the slot as well as blocked numerous shot attempts.
“It got away from us,” Peter said.
“We were short for 49 seconds to start the third and they scored on it. That was the air out of the balloon for us. We didn’t compete from that point on very hard.”
Following Kreider’s second of the game on the power play just 20 seconds into the final period, New York eventually followed it up with back-to-back goals from Jesper Fast at the 5:45 and 12:26 marks.
“Obviously not the start we wanted,” co-captain Justin Faulk said.
“We had a couple opportunities to get back in it with the power play goal, and a couple of more power plays. Pretty much got outworked on our power play and then from there on out, the remainder of the third period.”
It was a demoralizing loss that highlighted the Hurricanes’ inability to skate hard and outwork the other team.
“We’re not gonna win a whole bunch of games, if any, if we’re not the hardest working team,” Peters stated.
“That type of effort’s not gonna get us the result that we need, or the result that we want.”
Thus, it’s not surprising that a practice on Thanksgiving Day will take place at Noon in preparation for upcoming match-ups with Toronto on Friday and Nashville on Sunday.
“I think there’s a lot of disappointment. I think there’s a lot of guys disappointed in various aspects of the game,” Peters concluded.
“We’re gonna have to bounce back, I know that much. We’ve got two more through the Thanksgiving Day holiday, right? We gotta bounce back, we gotta skate tomorrow. We can’t have a day off after a performance like that.”
Notables: Aho and Teravainen have combined for 21 points (10g, 11a) in their last five games (11/13-11/22). During that span, Teravainen leads the league in points (11), and the two skaters are tied for first in goals (5)…Justin Williams skated in his 1,100 NHL game against the Rangers. Williams is the second player from the 2000 NHL Draft class to reach the 1,100 games played milestone (Scott Hartnell: 1,203) and the eighth active NHL player to reach the 1,100-game plateau. Williams is in his 17th NHL season and is ranked 19th in points (696), tied for 19th in assists (420), and 24th in goals (276) among all active skaters. Williams has played in 285 games with the Carolina Hurricanes and has registered 215 points (84g, 131a) in a Canes sweater.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport