By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – It didn’t work out the way they had planned it.
The Carolina Hurricanes hoped to bounce back from a poor showing two days earlier, but the result was still a loss – a closer one though – a 5-4 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Derek Ryan, Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm, and Noah Hannifin each scored once while goaltenders Cam Ward and Scott Darling made 20 stops combined in the loss.
With a crowd of 15,241 in attendance at PNC Arena on Friday, the Hurricanes came out with pucks blazing.
It wasn’t the poor start or bad third period that the Hurricanes had in suffering a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
No, Carolina established and maintained puck possession early and often, and continued throughout.
They established a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal during the first period, but came up empty-handed.
Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen was the culprit as he turned away 43 shots throughout the game, and thwarted every Carolina scoring opportunity in the opening period
It made the difference as he denied numerous shots during the Hurricanes’ only two power play sequences of the game which included multiple Grade-A scoring opportunities.
“I was happy with the period,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“No reason to get discouraged. Just gotta stay with it, keep playin’, and continue to generate those types of quality chances.”
The two teams remained scoreless at the end of 20 minutes, but not for long.
“It was a good start,” co-captain Jordan Staal said.
“That could be frustrating when they’re not goin’ in for you, but we had to go with it, be more mentally tough to keep pushing, and not have those lulls. We had a little bit of a lull and they capitalized quick.”
The Leafs netted four goals on Ward, while Carolina only responded with Ryan’s marker at the 13:35 mark of the second period.
The Hurricanes’ defensive play gave up in-close shots for Zach Hyman and James van Riemsdyk to score, while top-corner snipes over Ward’s shoulders allowed Josh Leivo and former Carolina D-man Ron Hainsey to give the Leafs a 4-1 lead heading into the third.
Peters made a change in net as he pulled Ward and inserted Scott Darling to start the period.
Credit Carolina for not falling apart and scoring three goals during the final 20 minutes, but a questionable goalie interference call on Jeff Skinner resulted in Patrick Marleau scoring the eventual game-winning goal.
After Staal pulled the Hurricanes to within two on a set-up from Skinner, Marleau’s power-play goal put Toronto up 5-2 with 14:33 remaining.
Putting forth a valiant effort, Carolina finally figured Andersen out to score multiple times on him as Lindholm’s rebound finish and a top-circle snipe from Hanifin, just under two minutes apart, made it a one-goal game.
With the net empty for much of the remaining 4:11 in regulation time, the Hurricanes couldn’t capitalize with the extra attacker and suffered their second straight loss at home.
Though with positives to build on, what was most troubling to Peters was giving up five goals, part of Carolina’s 20 goals against total in its last five games, during which its won two and lost three.
“We’ve given up too many goals, obviously – six and then five,” he said.
“I don’t think we’re going to outscore our mistakes. That’s probably the thing that we need to clean up ASAP.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport