Wednesday night's 6-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers was a definite low point for the Hurricanes this season. They came out flat and paid for it in the first period, and they were never able to recover. Less than 24 hours later, the Canes needed to flush that loss as they traveled to Calgary to battle the Flames.
Shortly after warm-ups, the team announced that Andrei Svechnikov would miss the game with an upper-body injury, putting Brendan Lemieux back into action. After being pulled less than six minutes into the game on Wednesday, Pyotr Kochetkov would be back between the pipes for the Canes. Flames rookie Dustin Wolf would get the call for Calgary as they deal with issues in the net following Jacob Markstrom's injury.
The Hurricanes refused to get off to a bad start like they did in Edmonton. It took 2:10 for them to get on the board as Stefan Noesen redirected Jaccob Slavin's shot past Dustin Wolf as he was being shoved to put the Canes up early. After killing a penalty a few minutes later, they'd double up. Dmitry Orlov blasted a shot from the point that was redirected by Michael Bunting to make it 2-0 less than nine minutes into the contest. The Canes would kill one more penalty, moving into the second period up by two.
While there weren't any goals in the second period, it was clear there was a shift in momentum. It was most evident in Dustin Wolf. The Flames goalie made a great attacking save on a Jordan Staal one-timer that could've been a backbreaker. Instead, it remained 2-0, and the Flames would get a chance on the power play after Pyotr Kochetkov got a little overzealous with his stick. The Canes would kill it to remain perfect on the night. They'd get to the break still up by two goals, but a storm was coming that they wouldn't be able to contain.
From the drop of the puck to start the third period, it was clear the Flames were skating on fresher legs. Pyotr Kochetkov was able to weather some of it, but the dam would eventually break. Rasmus Andersson beat Michael Bunting to the front of the net to put home a rebound to cut the lead in half. Then, Adam Ruzicka's shot barely got through Kochetkov, allowing Connor Zary to put the rebound home. All of a sudden, the game was tied just over 7:00 into the period. To add insult to injury, the Canes' only power play of the night would allow the go-ahead goal. Yegor Sharangovich did a great job clogging the boards, allowing Blake Coleman to snap one over Kochetkov's glove to give Calgary its first lead of the night.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed for the entire period, the Hurricanes thought they'd gotten the equalizer. Sebastian Aho ripped a one-timer from the point that got past Dustin Wolf as he was falling. The call on the ice was a goal, but the Flames wanted Toronto to take a look at it for goalie interference. Despite the hopes of the Caniacs at home, the challenge would prove successful. Martin Necas' skate and stick both made contact with Wolf as he tried to track the shot, making him unable to play his position. This was as close as the Canes would get to tying it. They were unable to generate anything substantial, losing 3-2 to move to 0-3-0 on the trip.
Each loss on this trip so far has felt different. The Winnipeg loss was a little easier to stomach, given the team's effort. The Edmonton loss was clear from the beginning, so there was no need to dwell on it for long after the game. This was by far the most deflated I've felt in a while while watching a game. Despite their 2-0 lead, I didn't think the Canes played a dominant 40 minutes. It was more like a dominant 10-15 minutes. Still, they were in a great spot going into the third period. Calgary wanted it more, and that showed.
Pyotr Kochetkov seemingly didn't let his performance in Edmonton affect him. He played an incredible two periods, keeping the Flames off the board. Once the first goal went in, I'm not sure what happened. The goals by Zary and Coleman are examples of needing a save in a key spot. He got almost all of the initial shot by Adam Ruzicka that would eventually lead to the tying goal, but the key word there is "almost." It still leaked through, allowing a tap-in. The game-winner is a short-handed goal that can't go in under any circumstances. The team needs a stop there. Granted, that team in front of him didn't help much in the third.
Once again, the penalty kill is one of the only silver linings in the loss. The kills in the first and second periods kept the Flames from gathering any momentum. The first two came almost immediately after goals, too. A goal could've easily been negated if not for the kill's stellar performance. They made life easy on Pyotr Kochetkov, who only faced two shots on three power plays. However, it does make all three losses on the trip even worse because it means the Canes have been the second-best team at 5-on-5.
Mercifully, the western swing is coming to an end on Saturday. The Hurricanes will travel to Vancouver to face the high-powered Canucks. If we were hoping for the road to get easier, it isn't. The Canes will return east next week, finishing the road trip with stops in Ottawa and Detroit on Tuesday and Thursday. They'll be back at home next Friday, battling the Nashville Predators.