EDMONTON - On the heels of their second straight overtime loss in which they again surrendered a three-goal lead in regulation, the Carolina Hurricanes got back to work in Edmonton at brand-new Rogers Place.
The Canes' 4-3 overtime defeat in Vancouver on Sunday night was particularly deflating in that it was a near-identical script to how the team's season opener played out three nights prior in Winnipeg.
"They were very similar situations. We're very happy with some of the stuff we've been able to do here early in the year. We've had leads, not only in the two regular season games but also in the exhibition season," head coach Bill Peters said after practice. "We've got to be able to manage the situation and clock a little bit better. We don't want to get conservative and play on our heels, but there are certain things you have to do differently with those types of leads."
Stepping back from these first two contests, there's the good, there's the bad and there's everything in between.
The good is that the Hurricanes have not struggled to score and have built commanding leads. Last season, the Canes scored 10 goals in their first four games; this season, they already have seven goals for in the first two. The power play has contributed to this success as well, firing at a 50 percent clip (3-for-6).
"We've got more skill than we've had in the past on the power play," Peters said. "They've worked on it hard through training camp, and we've got more focus on a net-front presence."
The bad is fairly evident: twice the team has had a three-goal lead, and twice the team has seen that lead disappear before losing in overtime.
"In the third, the game was there to be had, and we just made too many simple, unforced mistakes," Peters said of Sunday night's game in Vancouver.
Everything in between? The team has still captured two out of a possible four points at the outset of an extended road trip to begin the season. The Canes grabbed those points in perhaps the most maddening way possible, but they got them nonetheless. And best of all? This is a script that can be flipped in one game's time.
"This is a very intelligent, competitive group, and they'll get better as we go," Peters said.
The Hurricanes practiced in the early afternoon on Monday at Rogers Place, the Oilers' new, breathtaking gem of a facility located in downtown Edmonton. It opened just last month and still has that new car smell.