1. Not Enough
There were signs of life for the Hurricanes through parts of the second period, but otherwise, the team didn't bring the effort level they needed in order to be competitive against the Ducks.
"We didn't do a whole lot," Jordan Staal said. "In general, there just wasn't enough from everyone, including myself. Everyone was just a bit behind. We didn't really create enough offensively and didn't defend well enough. Didn't really do anything all that great."
"There was no flow to that game," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said, raw and honest. "That was one of the worst hockey games I've been around. Just gross."
Video: CAR Recap: Fleury scores first NHL goal in 4-2 loss
After winning five straight games to begin the season, the Canes have now lost three of their last four games. Two weeks into the season, it's by no means panic time, but the team knows it needs more from everyone.
"We'll have to sit on this one for a little while, which is unfortunate, but I think the boys will hopefully learn a lesson from that one and this trip and how it's just not easy," Staal said. "We're showing up thinking it's going to be easy, and it's not. It's a good league, and they played well."
"We didn't generate anything. We gave them a couple easy ones, it felt like, at the start, and we just never got going," Brind'Amour said. "You want to make the other team earn it, and we didn't make it hard enough."
2. Anaheim Builds a Lead
The Hurricanes gifted the Ducks their first goal of the game in the first five minutes with a defensive breakdown, as four players got sucked over to the near side of the rink while Adam Henrique had plenty of room to skate and snipe a shot past Petr Mrazek. Then, after the Canes failed to convert on the first power play of the game, Troy Terry doubled his team's lead with a redirection of Cam Fowler's point shot.
"That was a tough one. It was kind of the whole game," Staal said. "We weren't ready to go and it showed."
In the second period, Jakob Silfverberg stuffed in his own rebound and then Carter Rowney scored a shorthanded goal to stretch the Ducks' lead to 4-0. That prompted Brind'Amour to make his first mid-game goaltending change as head coach.
"I hate doing that. It's not [Mrazek's] fault. We left him out to dry. We had a lot of guys sleeping tonight," he said. "I didn't need to see him in there getting hung out to dry like that, so that was more just a statement than anything."
Though the Canes cut the deficit in half later in the period, they couldn't spark another push in the third period.
"It just felt like a pretty vanilla game. We gave them that early one for no reason. I don't think they had four chances in the first, and they scored on two of them. We just gave it to them, I felt like, and then they played a good game," Brind'Amour said. "They just didn't give us much. When you get a lead, that's how you play. They did a nice job."
3. You Never Forget Your First
Haydn Fleury had waited a long time for this one.
In his 96th NHL game, Fleury finally found the back of the net for his first career NHL goal. And what a play it was to make it happen. Derek Grant, who was feeling pressure from Lucas Wallmark, made an ill-advised, weak backhand clear, and Fleury jumped across the blue line to keep the zone on his backhand. He settled the puck, took a step and fired a slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat Ryan Miller.
Video: CAR@ANA: Fleury hammers home first NHL goal
"They had been in their end for quite a while. Pesce had kept a couple pucks in, so I knew they were probably tired and needed to get off," Fleury said. "Their guy just kind of laid one out there. I stepped into it and shot one as hard as I could."
Fleury, as if he had been there before, raised two arms in the air in celebration. An elated Brett Pesce jumped into the huddle.
"He was probably more excited than I was," Fleury laughed.
The bench went wild.
"That was nice to see," he said. "Relieved. Excited. All those things. All the guys have been joking saying, 'It's coming, it's coming.' This year, I've felt from the first game I've had chances to score each night."
One to remember for Fleury, even if the end result wasn't as encouraging.
"If there was a positive, it was nice to see him get one. He's been working hard for a lot of years. He's been playing well consistently lately, and you could tell it was starting to come for him," Staal said. "We were joking with him, but at the same time, we knew it was coming. He's been playing some good hockey, and it was good to see him get one."
"It's always nice to see somebody get their first," Brind'Amour said. "I would have liked to see it be a little more memorable for him, but it's been a long time. It's nice to see him finally get it."
Nino Niederreiter grabbed the puck out of the net. That one's a keeper.
"Hopefully I get a nice frame or something," Fleury smiled.
4. Haula Scores & Gets Hurt
The good news is that Erik Haula scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season, a deflection of a Teuvo Teravainen shot that broke a power-play hex.
Video: CAR@ANA: Haula tips in power-play goal
The bad news is that Haula was injured shortly after. Josh Manson leveled Haula with a hit behind the net, a violent collision with the end boards that left Haula down on the ice in pain. He left the game and was ruled out for the remainder with a lower-body injury.
The good news, again, is that Brind'Amour sounded optimistic about the injury.
"I don't think it will be too bad," he said. "I'm hopeful it's nothing serious. I don't know yet. We'll find out probably when we get home."
A skirmish broke out after the hit, with Joel Edmundson square in the mix. You felt like a score-settling drop of the mitts was inevitable, and it certainly was. The two tossed their gloves a few shifts later and went toe-to-toe, both getting their shots in but Edmundson coming away having gotten the better of Manson. Edmundson looked at the Canes' bench, enthusiastically clapping as he skated to the box. His team, for a brief moment, seemed to have some life.
"I can't say enough about Eddy," Staal said. "He did an unbelievable job sticking up for his team."
"That was a pretty good fight. You're not really going to see a better fight than that. The bench got going," Fleury said. "We got some life, but we couldn't get it going again in the third."
"That's a good teammate, right?" Brind'Amour said. "He sees one of his guys get, what he feels, cheap-shotted, and he stood up for him. That says a lot about him, for sure."
5. Van Riemsdyk Returns
Just 36 seconds into Trevor van Riemsdyk's first shift in Game 2 of the Second Round against the New York Islanders, Cal Clutterbuck lined up the Canes' defenseman and crunched him along the end boards. A few days later, van Riemsdyk underwent surgery on his left shoulder.
Nearly six months later, van Riemsdyk returned to game action with the Canes in Anaheim.
"It's been slow, but no setbacks. You're able to see the little improvements, as minor and little as they may be. It's nice to be back now and have all that behind me," he said before the game. "It's obviously great that we're off to this start. It's never as much fun when you're watching. You'd rather be in the locker room and be a part of it."
Instead of swapping van Riemsdyk for a defenseman, the Canes opted to dress seven blue-liners and 11 forwards. (And good thing, right? Fleury might have been the odd man out if the team would have rolled with the conventional 12 and six lineup.) Van Riemsdyk finished the night with a hit in 11:28 of ice time.
A five-day gap now separates the Canes from their next game, which will take them to Columbus to square off with the Blue Jackets on Thursday.