Tough one last night. I immediately felt the same way I did after the November 6 game at Washington
where a late goal (two, in that case) stunned the Canes in the final minutes and robbed them of what seemed to be at least one sure point.
John and Tripp mentioned this on the broadcast quite a bit so I won’t belabor the point, but I really expected the dying minutes of the game to be quite conservative on both sides. Teams from opposite conferences, even those on the bubble like the Canes and Canucks, aren’t competing for the same playoff spot. Handing the other team a point by getting to overtime doesn’t hurt in the standings the way it would against the likes of Florida or Pittsburgh. Once you get that far, then you can see about trying to grab that second point any way you can.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, and now the Canes are under a bit more pressure to come away with something tomorrow night in San Jose.
As far as positives they can take from last night, I was impressed with how quickly they were moving the puck around, both at even strength and on the power play. Breakouts from the defensive end were made easier by short, fast and accurate passes, and all three Carolina goals game with quick cross-ice passes that allowed a man to get behind the Vancouver defense.
Even though the winning goal came while the Hurricanes were on the man-advantage, it had been a while since they scored two power play goals in the same game – not since the Jan. 2 win over St. Louis, to be exact. The power play will need to be that good down the stretch.
Also, the Canes made several plays with strong, physical play in the offensive end. Players like Matt Cullen and Tuomo Ruutu were skating into the zone with authority and throwing their body around to make sure the puck stayed there. It was probably one of the better offensive efforts of the season for a lot of players – it just figured that it comes on a night where they allow four.
The hangover from this one can’t last long, as the Canes will get their first look at one of the best teams in the league tomorrow night. Coming out of the All-Star break, Paul Maurice said one of his biggest tasks down the stretch would be managing the team emotionally and making sure they kept their focus after big wins and tough losses alike. He'll need to have the Canes ready tomorrow.