RALEIGH, N.C. – A bounce here, a missed pass there can make all the difference.
That was the case in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at PNC Arena on Thursday.
Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Lucas Wallmark posted goals while Petr Mrazek made 18 saves in the losing effort for Carolina.
A four-point effort from Flyers captain Claude Giroux did the job, coupled with goalie Brian Elliott’s 33-save performance.
It didn’t look like the type of game the Hurricanes have put together when compiling recent wins, thus a four-game win streak came to an end.
“We were sluggish most of that game,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We got goin’ in spurts, but we were never able to get our footing. It’s a frustrating game. You’re gonna give up some goals, but we made it too easy. That’s the game.”
Running to a standstill
Aho and Teravainen created an early two-goal separation between the two Metropolitan Division clubs.
Aho’s team-leading 11th goal of the season caught Philadelphia netminder Brian Elliott off-guard.
So did Teravainen’s high snipe on the power play just over a minute later.
Carolina led 2-0 after five minutes of play.
Giroux and the Flyers eventually responded.
His sixth goal of the season and one from defenseman Ivan Provorov evened it up.
Both teams headed into the first intermission tied 2-2.
It’s the little things
Early in the second period, a passing miscue by Mrazek on the power play, launching the puck towards the neutral zone seeking to connect with a teammate while the Flyers made changes, resulted in an icing call.
As a result, the ensuing faceoff to the netminder’s right was won by Giroux, with the puck sliding backwards to Morgan Frost who teed up a shot that greased through Mrazek’s pads.
3-2 – advantage Philly.
“That’s not the time to do it, for sure,” Brind’Amour said of the intended stretch pass.
“He (Mrazek) knows. Unfortunately, you get burned on it. Again, we were a little sloppy overall – not sharp.”
Ebb and flow
While outshooting the Flyers, Carolina tried to translate too many puck touches into goals, particularly during second period.
Elliott got more settled in his crease and denied all that came his way as the Hurricanes held a 19-4 shots-on-goal margin during that 20-minute segment.
Carolina came out with more energy in the third period and got the bounce they needed to pull even.
A right-pad save from Elliott rebounded to Brock McGinn in the low slot.
Instead of trying to jam it back, McGinn turned and slid a backhand pass across the slot where Wallmark fluttered the puck into a wide-open net, past the sprawling Flyers goalie.
Even while building up that momentum, working to regain the lead, it was Giroux again who pulled Philadelphia back ahead for a third time in the game.
His second goal, the eventual game-winner, heightened Carolina’s need to pull even again.
Elliott did his part with a critical save on a Nino Niederreiter shot as time ran down below the three-minute mark.
The Hurricanes couldn’t do it, even with the extra skater.
“We had our chances,” Wallmark noted.
Kevin Hayes’ empty-netter with six seconds left iced the win for the Flyers.
“It’s tough because it wasn’t like we gave up a ton (of chances),” Brind’Amour concluded.
“We worked pretty hard at times. We just didn’t do it smart today and got caught. We just weren’t sharp. When you’re not smart, you play more in your own zone than you need to, and that’s what happened.”
Notables: Carolina finished 1-5 on the power play, 16-69 (23.2%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 2-3, 65-78 (83.3%) overall… Aho has scored five goals in his last five games… Teravainen has posted nine points in his last seven games…Defenseman Joel Edmundson posted an assist and extended his career-long point streak to five games. His previous career-long was a three-game point streak.
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