This road trip hasn't been kind to the Carolina Hurricanes. After finishing their homestand with a lot of momentum, it has since disappeared. They had a 2-0 lead in Calgary on Thursday night, but three goals in the third period, including a short-handed goal, kept the Canes winless during this western swing. The trip wouldn't get easier as the Canes traveled to Vancouver to take on the Canucks.
The Hurricanes would turn to Antti Raanta in the net after a few encouraging appearances in Winnipeg and Edmonton. The rest of the lineup would remain the same as Andrei Svechnikov missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Thatcher Demko would get the start for the Canucks, which surprised some after Casey DeSmith's shutout win against Minnesota on Thursday night.
The start of the game was largely spent in front of Antti Raanta. He answered the call early, making a great stop with his paddle to keep a puck out of the net. Unfortunately, the Canucks' continued push would eventually lead to Sam Lafferty putting home a rebound to get Vancouver on the board first. It didn't help that Sebastian Aho almost immediately took a penalty after the goal. The Canes would kill it, but another tripping penalty put them right back on the kill. Raanta would make another huge stop, aided by Brock Boeser missing his spot on a one-timer. The Canes would get two chances on the power play late in the period, including an abbreviated 5-on-3, but couldn't crack Thatcher Demko going into the break.
The remainder of the Canes' power play ended, but a third penalty kill would begin in the first minute of the second period. They'd remain strong by killing it off. However, the Canucks added to their lead before the first commercial break. Elias Pettersson would pick up his second assist of the game, feeding Ilya Mikheyev at the side of the net for an easy tap-in.
Down 2-0, the Hurricanes finally woke up. Jordan Martinook would find the back of the net 29 seconds later for his first of the season to pull the Canes back within a goal. The Canes would give the goal right back a few minutes later as JT Miller found a soft spot in the slot to bury a one-timer. Carolina would draw its fifth power play in the second period, and it looked like it was going to go silently like the other four. In a welcome change, it didn't. Dmitry Orlov decided to skate the puck deep into the zone, drawing attention away from Brady Skjei as he skated to the front of the net. Orlov found Skjei to get the Canes within a goal in the final minute of the period, giving us a reason to believe again.
The momentum was planted firmly in the Canes' camp, and they used it to find the tying goal early in the third. Brent Burns' shot from the point was redirected off the bottom of the crossbar by Jack Drury. Fortunately, Stefan Noesen was there to pick up the rebound as the Hurricanes knotted it up 3-3. The Canes had fought back and looked to be in control.
To this point, Antti Raanta had played a solid game. All of that was thrown out the window less than 90 seconds after the tying goal. Elias Pettersson muscled away Sebastian Aho as he carried the puck around the net. In one fell swoop, Pettersson threw it into the net to put Vancouver ahead again. All of Raanta's hard work to keep the Canes in the game was deemed meaningless. It would turn out to be the dagger as Carolina failed to find the equalizer in a 4-3 loss.
I have no clue what is going on with the Carolina Hurricanes right now. This is unlike anything I've seen in a long time. A team that prides itself on solid defense and goaltending can't keep the puck out of their net. Their offense helped out tonight, but that's been rare during this trip. Going on the road is tough, and we knew this wouldn't be an easy trip given the opponents they'd be facing. However, it's like we're getting two different teams at home and on the road. It sounds like they had a players-only meeting after the game, so that'll be something to monitor in the next few days.
To call this trip a disaster would be an understatement. This has the makings of being a season-altering trip with how poorly it has gone. The rest of the division isn't losing much, so the Hurricanes continue to slide down the standings. It starts with the stars being invisible. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Seth Jarvis, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi haven't scored a point on the trip. Martin Necas and Michael Bunting look lost in the defensive zone. Most of the damage has been done at 5-on-5. The power play scored in this game, but it still looked disjointed.
The fourth line continues to be the only consistent line on the team. Stefan Noesen has points in three of the four games, including goals in the last two. Jaccob Slavin is on a three-game assist streak. Jack Drury has helpers in the last two games. The penalty kill has gone 9-for-9 on the trip, including 4-for-4 against the Canucks. The bright spots remain limited, but at least there is a little to celebrate amidst the worst stretch of hockey we've seen this season.
The Canes will have a few days off to get their minds right. They'll be in Ottawa for the fifth stop on the trip on Tuesday night. Who knows who we'll see in the net for that one? The road trip will finish in Detroit on Thursday night against newly-signed Patrick Kane and the Red Wings. The turnaround will be quick as the Canes head back to Raleigh to complete a back-to-back 24 hours later against the Predators.