For the first time since 2016, the Carolina Hurricanes have been defeated by the Buffalo Sabres. It snaps an 11-game win streak the Canes had over the Sabres organization. It’s a game that the Canes were just not good enough in and had too many breakdowns defensively to even say they deserved to win. Only one line could score for the Hurricanes and it’s painful to watch right now.
Let’s start with the good. Jordan Staal recorded points number 600 and 601 as he twice was a key contributor to the scoring. With the captain and his line being the Canes’ only scoring threat, the Canes’ problem of making old goaltenders that aren’t supposed to be good anymore look like Vezina candidates came up. Make no mistake, Carolina had chances to escape with two points, but it wasn’t good enough even if they did.
This team desperately misses the balance Jesperi Kotkaniemi installs in the lineup. The fourth line was so quiet in this one, and it’s worrying how little that line impacts the game without the Finnish center’s presence. It’s worrying for the long run, and it raises questions regarding how well the lineup is built. Carolina needs the Finnish forward, and he cannot get healthy quick enough for this team.
Going to the other end of the forward core, Carolina’s stars were quiet. Andrei Svechnikov was a ghost, Teuvo Teravainen was silent and Sebastian Aho just couldn’t get anything going. It’s really concerning that the best of the Hurricanes’ forward core just couldn’t get anything going. Scoring woes are something you desperately don’t need when you’re gearing up for the playoffs.
Carolina’s penalty kill is another thing of note that just wasn’t good enough. Allowing yet another powerplay goal, the Hurricanes’ penalty kill as of late has been incredibly sloppy. The constant pressure is starting to leave gaps behind the defenders and in front of the goaltender that other teams are starting to exploit. Something needs to be fixed there too if the Canes want to continue to rely on their vaunted PK unit.