Carolina Can't Carry Its Momentum From Thursday, Fall 2-1 to the Dallas Stars at Home

Dallas halts Carolina's four-game win streak as Aho scores the lone goal for the Hurricanes in a tightly contested showdown between two of the league's best.

Feb 24, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (20) scores a
Feb 24, 2024; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (20) scores a / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
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Few wins this season had the fan base pumped like the Hurricanes' 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Sebastian Aho's late game-winner helped the team get a small measure of revenge over the team that eliminated them from the playoffs in May. Revenge was on their mind again on Saturday as they hosted the Dallas Stars.

With this game being the first half of a back-to-back, the Hurricanes turned to Pyotr Kochetkov once again after he stopped a career-high 45 shots in the win over Florida. The rest of the lineup remained the same, with Jalen Chatfield being the only regular to miss the game. Dallas, who entered on a four-game losing streak, turned to Jake Oettinger to reverse their fortunes. Tyler Seguin was a notable absence for the Stars, giving way to Logan Stankoven to make his NHL debut.

It felt like much of the early momentum belonged to the Stars. Dallas got the first few shots against Pyotr Kochetkov, and they'd earn the game's first power play less than six minutes in. The Canes' penalty kill stifled Dallas, killing it with ease to kickstart their push. They got a little unlucky as Brent Burns hit the crossbar late in the period.

Dallas would strike first with 3:22 to go in the frame, taking advantage of a good bounce. Burns left his feet to deny a pass from Jason Robertson to Roope Hintz. While he blocked it, the puck returned to Robertson, who slid it past Kochetkov to get Dallas on the board. Martin Necas had one more good chance before the end of the period, but the Stars held their 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Just like they did in Dallas, the Hurricanes wasted little time getting the goal back. It didn't happen in 13 seconds like the first time around, but it didn't take long. Jesper Fast made a great pass to spring Sebastian Aho for a breakaway. Aho beat Jake Oettinger over his glove, similar to how he beat Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday, to get the Canes on the board. Dallas would retake the lead less than six minutes later. Jaccob Slavin did a good job of defending, but he screened Pyotr Kochetkov just enough for Wyatt Johnston's shot to surprise him as Dallas took a 2-1 lead.

The officiating took a front seat at the end of the second period, with the Canes being bitten twice. Jack Drury was assessed a penalty for a hold that looked a little weak compared to some of the other "holds" that went uncalled. The crisis was averted as the penalty kill got the job done. With less than a second left in the period, Dmitry Orlov would be on the wrong end of a call. Right after the puck was passed, Orlov stepped up and planted Thomas Harley, only to be called for interference. It met all the criteria of a clean hit, but it forced the kill into action to begin the third period.

The kill completed its third kill of the night, and it nearly led to the tying goal. As Dmitry Orlov came out of the box, Jordan Staal set him up for a breakaway. Instead of skating toward the net, Orlov opted to unleash a clapper from the left dot. In theory, it's a decent idea, but the shot missed wide. Orlov was back in the box a few minutes later for a trip in the neutral zone on a knee-to-knee collision with Roope Hintz. It was another tough call, but the penalty kill played the same song as the first three times.

For all of their trying, the Stars weren't giving much to the Hurricanes. The power play came up empty on a chance midway through the period. They pushed will all of their might, but pucks were making it to the net. With Pyotr Kochetkov on the bench, the Canes threw the kitchen sink at the Stars, yet they couldn't find the tying goal. Dallas escaped Raleigh with two points, sweeping the season series with a 2-1 win.

This is the type of loss that stings, especially after the high of Thursday's victory over the Panthers. The Canes played well, but the Stars played better. Jake Oettinger was better than Pyotr Kochetkov. Dallas' stars were better than Carolina's. The one area in which Canes thrived was their penalty kill. On four attempts, the Stars managed just two shots. Three of them came with the game still at 2-1, so a goal could've been a backbreaker in those moments.

One thing that has really bugged me and most of the Caniacs online in the last few games is the team's hesitancy to shoot the puck, especially in odd-man situations. It happened several times against Florida and was present throughout this game. In one-goal games like this, the more shots the better. There's no such thing as a bad shot. Quit worrying about being a good teammate and put the puck in the back of the net.

The Hurricanes will be right back in action on Sunday night as they head to Buffalo to face the Sabres for the final time this season. The Canes have won both meetings in Raleigh in very different ways. This will begin a three-game trip up north, with stops in Minnesota and Columbus following later in the week.