COLUMBUS - The Carolina Hurricanes suffered a pair of losses in Columbus, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Blue Jackets late in regulation and losing All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a lower-body injury.
Nick Foligno netted the game-winning goal for the Blue Jackets with 1:41 left in regulation, while Martin Necas and Jordan Staal scored for the Canes.
Here are five takeaways from a rotten Thursday night in Columbus.
1. A Frustrating Loss
That was the final shot attempt tally, which heavily favored the Hurricanes. That's their game. They're a shot volume team focused on generating chances through sound defensive play and dominant puck possession. And, for much of the 60-minute game, they did just that.
They rolled around with the puck in the Blue Jackets' zone. They hung onto the puck. They generated scoring chances. They limited opportunities at the other end.
It just didn't go their way, and that's frustrating.
"I think that's probably the blueprint if you can draw up a game how we want to play it, that's probably close to as good as you can get. A couple defensive lapses and it ends up in the back of our net," Jordan Martinook said. "If we play like that in the rest of the games from here on out, we're going to be pretty successful."
Video: CAR Recap: Hurricanes lose Hamilton to injury in loss
"If we play like that, it's going to end up the way we want to more often than not," Staal said. "Tonight, it didn't. It's frustrating."
That's hockey, though.
"That's a tough one. That's probably our best game of the year, really, as far as playing the way we want to play," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "The other team really didn't have a lot. We gave them a couple, and they found the net. Give them credit. They play hard. It was a hard-fought game. It just didn't go the way it probably should have."
2. Dougie Goes Down
As tough as the final score was - and it certainly was, given that Columbus just leapfrogged the Canes for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference - more concerning is the status of Dougie Hamilton, who suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury late in the second period.
Chasing down a puck along the near wall in the neutral zone, Kevin Stenlund's right leg got tangled up with Hamilton's right skate. The result was an awkward spill for Hamilton, his left leg bending in an awful way under the weight of his body. The replay is gruesome, the resulting injury so disheartening. Hamilton, not putting any weight on his left leg, had to be helped off the ice and obviously did not return to the game.
"Big loss. He's played so well for us this season. It's tough," Staal said. "We've got a great D corps, and a lot of guys can come in to try to fill that big hole. We'll get him back as soon as we can."
"Arguably one of our best players this year. He's our All Star. It shook everybody up seeing that happen," Martinook said. "It's the cliché hockey next-man-up type thing, but that's a lot of big minutes to find. Guys will have to step up, and hopefully we can get him back sooner rather than later."
Right now, Hamilton is listed as having a lower-body injury. Additional clarity will have to wait until the Canes get back to Raleigh, where he can be evaluated by the team's doctors.
"It doesn't look good, obviously," Brind'Amour said.
3. Fighting Through
It certainly wasn't the start they were looking for, but the Hurricanes ended up building a first period they could be happy with, despite the 1-0 deficit.
Columbus struck just 67 seconds into the game when Emil Bemstrom skated in on a 2-on-1 rush and picked a corner on Petr Mrazek.
"Those plays happen. It went in. Nobody was really fazed by it," Martinook said. "We just shook it off, which is something we need to do when something like that happens."
From there, the Canes built a road period and better than doubled up the Blue Jackets in shot attempts, 22-9, in the first 20 minutes.
"That's a start we'd still like to probably get back, but we really didn't give up too much," Staal said. "When we did give up chances, they were big ones."
And, really, the Canes fought through each time they were scored against, but Foligno's dagger late in regulation was obviously the final salvo.
4. Answering Back
The Hurricanes tied the score at one about midway through the game on a sequence that began with a stroke of luck and finished with a display of speed and skill.
Seth Jones' stick shattered on a one-timer attempt from the point, and Lucas Wallmark headmanned the puck to Martin Necas. From there, the now 21-year-old forward's speed took over, and Necas buried a shot top-shelf on the breakaway.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Necas roofs Wallmark feed on breakaway
"He's not super flashy. You're not going to notice him every shift. He just does everything right," Martinook said of Wallmark. "If you have 22 guys like Wally, you're going to have a pretty awesome team. He's great."
In the third period, just a little more than two minutes after Cam Atkinson scored in his return to the lineup, Jordan Staal parked his big frame in front of Elvis Merzlikins and redirected Teravainen's shot in to tie the game at two.
Video: CAR@CBJ: Staal deflects Teravainen point shot in
"I like the way our team played, but sometimes it doesn't go your way," Brind'Amour said.
5. New-Look Forward Lines
After being shut out in Washington on Monday, the Canes coaching staff shuffled up the lines. Sebastian Aho slid over to the wing. Teuvo Teravainen joined Staal and Andrei Svechnikov on a line. A different look, designed to give the Canes some needed offensive juice.
For the most part, Brind'Amour liked what he saw.
"I thought we had three lines that played pretty well," he said. "From top to bottom, I thought it was a pretty good game. … It felt like we were on them the whole game."
With the Canes back in action again on Friday night, we'll shortly see how long Brind'Amour sticks with these trios.
Or, perhaps we'll see Justin Williams make his season debut.
That does it for the Hurricanes' road schedule in January. The team will play their next five straight at PNC Arena, beginning with a three-game set leading into All-Star Weekend and the bye week.
"This one hurts a lot because we felt like we played good enough to win," Martinook said. "Going into tomorrow night, I think everybody's just got to keep their heads up and channel what we did tonight."