1. "It Was a Tough Game"
For a brief period of time - 71 seconds, to be exact - it seemed the Hurricanes would salvage at least a point from a game in which they probably deserved none.
And then, in a seemingly cruel string of unfortunate mishaps, that glimmer of hope was dashed, and the Canes skated away with the zero points they had coming after sputtering to start following a nine-day layoff.
"They were coming off their break, too. It looked like they had been playing for 10 [days], and we sat on the couch for 10 days. They did exactly what we wanted to do," Jordan Martinook said. "In the second we started picking it up, and in the third we made our push. … We dug ourselves a hole, and it was hard to dig out of it."
Video: Postgame Quotes: Brock McGinn
That's the thing - the break for the Canes was no different than the break for the Golden Knights. Both teams were in the same boat, and Vegas had to row theirs farther to even get to Raleigh to play the dreaded first-game-after-a-long-break.
"Everybody has to make sure they're ready to play," Teuvo Teravainen said. "It's a long break, but for both teams it's the same thing."
"Terrible, terrible. It's not acceptable to come out and play like that for two periods, even two-and-a-half periods, to be honest with you. They were good. I give them a ton of credit. They played the way they had to," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We weren't ready to match that. That's what you get. We fought back. Unfortunate at the end."
2. Mounting a Push
Despite the start and then despite seeing a one-goal deficit double with about eight minutes left in regulation, the Hurricanes didn't wither.
It helped when, just 16 seconds after Vegas took a 3-1 lead, Brock McGinn snapped a shot glove-side high on Malcom Subban to bring the Canes back within a goal.
Video: VGK@CAR: McGinn rifles Fleury set-up on the rush
That salvaged life for the Canes and generated some juice inside PNC Arena. The Canes started buzzing around, and the crowd of 18,150 grew more and more vocal. Andrei Svechnikov burst into the zone with speed and drew a penalty on former Hurricane Nic Roy. Anticipation built through the media timeout, with the Canes taking the ice for a do-or-die power play on the other side of the break.
It took only eight seconds for the Canes to convert and tie the game, even though the on-ice officials weren't exactly sure without the brief assistance of video review. Jaccob Slavin's point shot was redirected in the slot by Sebastian Aho, and the puck popped in and out of the net, which caused the initial confusion.
Video: VGK@CAR: Aho tips puck home from slot for PPG
No mistaking what had happened, though. The Canes had tied the game.
Unfortunately, though …
"We made a game, but at the same time, it really doesn't matter if we lose with four goals or one goal," Teravainen said. "It's still a loss."
3. "We Got What We Deserved"
A short time after Aho tied the game, a series of unfortunate events led to Vegas reclaiming the lead.
First, Joel Edmundson's stick shattered at the offensive zone blue line. As he raced to retrieve a new twig, Vegas skated down the ice to take advantage of his misfortunate. Aho was forced to take a hooking penalty on Max Pacioretty to prevent a scoring opportunity on what would have been a 2-on-1 rush.
And on the ensuing power play, just as the Canes had done just a minute prior, Vegas cashed in almost immediately.
Jordan Staal got the boot from the faceoff circle, which Brind'Amour wasn't happy about, and then Alex Tuch tucked the puck in off a touch from Paul Stastny.
"That's a pressure time we need to kill," Martinook said. "You've got to find a way to battle through."
Just like that, the Golden Knights had reclaimed the lead.
"We got what we deserved," Brind'Amour said. "It was a tough game."
4. Vegas Grabs Early Lead
Ask Brind'Amour, and he'll tell you: The start of the game is vitally important no matter what game it is, what time of day it is, what day of the week it is. It's a tone-setter, bottom line.
Coming off a nine-day layoff, though, and there is perhaps a little more truth to it. There's a good bit of mental and physical unknown coming off such an extended mid-season break, and the first goal, whether tangible, can help calm some of those nerves and settle a team back into the routine of game action.
The first goal - and then second - for Vegas likely helped assuage some of their concerns flying across the country after spending the last week and change away from an ice rink. For the Canes, finding themselves in an early hole, it likely had the opposite effect.
"They started way better, and I think that was the game," Teravainen stated simply.
Martinook couldn't quite put a "why" to the why of the starts for either team being so diametric.
"I'm saying 'I don't know' a lot because I don't know. I wish I had something to tell you," he said. "We obviously needed a lot more from everyone in the first period to set the tone for the night."
Goals from Paul Stastny and Jonathan Marchessault put Vegas up 2-0 before the game was even 10 minutes old. The Canes, a noted shot volume team, managed just six shots on goal in the first period, followed by nine in the second and 10 in the third.
"We prepared like we knew we had to, but we were slow. Everything was slow. They were fast. That's what it looks like when it goes that way," Brind'Amour said. "There were a lot of no-shows tonight. That was the problem. We're not good enough to have one or two guys no-show, but we had probably half a dozen. That makes it tough."
5. Teravainen Gets the Canes on the Board
After a sleepy first 20 minutes, the Canes began to awake from their slumber with a better middle frame. Tangible evidence of that was found on the scoreboard when Teravainen located a rebound off a shot from Martinook and slid it past Malcolm Subban.
Video: VGK@CAR: Teravainen deposits loose puck in close
That gave the Canes some life, even though they couldn't quite build on it in that moment.
Teravainen finished the evening with two points (1g, 1a) and leads the Canes in assists (39) and points (50) through 51 games this season.
The Hurricanes host the Vancouver Canucks at 2 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday before embarking on a four-game road trip through the Western Conference.