Despite winning 6-5 in a shootout to begin the road trip, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t mince words about how poorly he felt the Carolina Hurricanes played against the Kings on Saturday night. However, the hope was that playing back-to-back games would allow the team to turn the page against an Anaheim Ducks team still developing its young stars. Sunday’s game in Anaheim might’ve been the wake-up call the Canes needed.
The skaters remained the same for the Carolina Hurricanes, with the lone change coming in the net as Antti Raanta made his season debut. Opposite him, Lukas Dostal occupied the Anaheim net after John Gibson started in a 4-1 loss to Vegas on Saturday night.
After dishing out three goals to the Kings in the first period on Saturday, the Hurricanes found themselves on the other side on Sunday. Even on his best days, I’m not sure Antti Raanta gets to Sam Carrick’s shot that broke the ice. Carrick perfectly placed the puck over the blocker of Raanta under seven minutes into the game to send the Honda Center into a frenzy. Raanta would undoubtedly want the next one back as Frank Vatrano slid a puck between his pads from the boards to double the lead just over 90 seconds later. Of the four goals Raanta allowed, this is the only goal I put solely on him. This one needs to be stopped. Ducks rookie defenseman Pavel Mintyukov added to the pain with his first NHL goal during a 4-on-4 to make it 3-0. After 20 minutes, the Canes looked lost.
The Carolina Hurricanes put together their best period of the season in the second. It took one good bounce for their fortunes to change. Teuvo Teravainen knocked down a muffed shot by Brady Skjei and snapped it past Lukas Dostal to finally get the Canes on the board. All the Canes needed was one more goal to get back into the game. Instead, Frank Vatrano snapped his second of the game past Antti Raanta to restore the three-goal lead late in the period. The Hurricanes responded well to the goal, but they found themselves in the same position they were in to begin the period, down three goals, but now they only had 20 minutes to remedy the situation.
There is no quit in the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season, this team found ways to complete insane comebacks. Down 4-1 with 20 minutes left, they knew what needed to be done. After failing to convert on a four-minute high-sticking penalty in the second period, the power play finally started to click in the third. Early in the period, Teuvo Teravainen stepped into a shot that eluded Lukas Dostal for his second goal of the night, cutting the deficit to two. With under five minutes left, the power play connected again as Michael Bunting found Martin Necas on the backdoor to pull within a goal with 4:31 left. In the end, the comeback bid would fall short. Empty-net goals by Cam Fowler and Frank Vatrano to complete the hat trick would sink the Carolina Hurricanes, handing them their first loss of the season.
Cardiac Cane is known to be very critical of Tony DeAngelo, as evidenced by the million articles we’ve written about him, like this one. I lauded his chemistry with Dmitry Orlov during the preseason, but tonight was not their night, especially in the defensive zone. I’m not the biggest fan of +/- because it doesn’t always tell the whole story, but Orlov finished the night at -5 and DeAngelo at -3.
Rarely do I watch the highlights after a loss, but I made an exception tonight to see what went wrong while the third pair was on the ice. During the 4-on-4 goal, Dmitry Orlov took his man out of the play, leaving Tony DeAngelo to defend a 2-on-1. He didn’t pick up either guy. Seth Jarvis tried to come back and defend what quickly became a 3-on-2, but it resulted in an easy goal for Pavel Mintyukov. The goal that made it 4-1 began with DeAngelo losing a race with Ryan Strome. Meanwhile, Orlov lost a battle along the boards to Mason McTavish. He knocked the puck over to Strome, who’d skated around DeAngelo while he stood still. This allowed Strome to set up Frank Vatrano alone in the right dot for his second goal of the game. There’s no denying the evidence. Tonight, the third pair was a liability in the defensive zone. It’s excellent they both had assists, giving Orlov his first point as a Hurricane, but they need to be better around their goalie.
Though I was critical of Orlov and DeAngelo tonight, the entire team is at fault for this loss. That doesn’t mean there weren’t silver linings. The power play finally started clicking in the third period. They got the Canes back in the game with two huge goals. Antti Raanta moved past a tough first period to make some huge stops, highlighted by the glove save from his side in the third. The biggest story of the first three games is the return to form of Teuvo Teravainen. After scoring 12 goals in 65 games last season, Teravainen already has four goals, tied for second-most in the league through the first week.
The beauty of this game is that there are still 79 games to follow, meaning plenty of chances at redemption. We’re only three games into the season, so there’s no need to have a glass half-empty approach. The first chance for the Carolina Hurricanes to rebound will come in San Jose on Tuesday night. With their first loss out of the way, it’s time to build a new winning streak. Tuesday feels like a good time to start.