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Recap: Canes Take Point in OT Loss to Ducks

Aho scores Canes' only goal in regulation

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

The Carolina Hurricanes grabbed a point in the standings in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Sam Steel netted the game-winning goal for Anaheim in overtime, while Sebastian Aho scored the Canes' only goal of the game in regulation.

Here are five takeaways from Friday night in Raleigh.

1. Opposites

The Hurricanes felt they deserved better in a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. After all, they did more than double up the Jackets in shot attempts.

It wasn't exactly the same story tonight. The Ducks had the edge in shot attempts (64-52) and shots on goal (37-26). In fact, the Canes managed just four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and 10 combined through the final two periods.

Video: Postgame Quotes: James Reimer

"They were trying to put pucks on net and put pressure on us to turn and defend. They have some big players who can rumble down low. They had a good cycle game and played a good game. We battled and worked hard," James Reimer said. "We grinded and got a valuable point. Sucks not to get two, but at least we got something."

"I thought they were the much better team," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We couldn't get out of our own way. Couldn't get out of our own end clean. Just spent too much time trying to defend."

2. Bad Bounce in Overtime

The results of 3-on-3 overtime are often seemingly random, as a failed odd-man rush one way tends to lead to one the other way. The name of the game is puck possession and capitalizing on chances generated - and in that sense, skill certainly helps.

Video: Postgame Quotes: Jordan Staal

The Hurricanes had three skilled players on the ice - Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Jake Gardiner - but the bounce didn't go their way. The puck rolled on Svechnikov as he gained the zone, which sprung Sam Steel in the other direction. Steel had a step on Gardiner and beat Reimer blocker side with a floating snapper.

"I thought I played well for the most part, but it's frustrating to lose, period," Reimer said. "It's frustrating to lose in OT, but that's the way it goes. One team has to win, one team has to lose. Unfortunately, we couldn't quite squeak out the two points."

3. Dynamic Aho

After playing on the wing during Thursday night's game in Columbus, Sebastian Aho slid back to the middle against Anaheim, and within the first four minutes of the game, he made an impact at his natural position.

Aho won an offensive zone draw, which Teuvo Teravainen then kicked back to Joel Edmundson at the point. Edmundson loaded up and fired a shot to the net that Aho redirected past Ryan Miller to give the Canes an early 1-0 lead.

Video: ANA@CAR: Aho nets deflection to open the scoring

Aho was arguably the Canes' best offensive player. He finished the night with three shots on goal, including a partial shorthanded breakaway that Miller turned aside, and five total shot attempts.

"He was working. He was dynamic. He had a couple looks," Brind'Amour said. "He was definitely dynamic and going."

4. Ducks Take Over

But Aho's goal really didn't spark much else for the Hurricanes. The Ducks, also playing the tail end of a back-to-back, got their legs under them and began to hold onto pucks.

"We just didn't get going after that," Brind'Amour said. "The start was fine. We generated quite a bit of offense, but they just took over, really."

Erik Gudbranson snuck in from the point and slipped a shot through Reimer's five hole before the first period was over to even the score, and that's how the rest of regulation progressed.

"They were trying to put pucks on net and put pressure on us to turn and defend. They have some big players who can rumble down low. They had a good cycle game and played a good game. We battled and worked hard," Reimer said. "We grinded and got a valuable point. Sucks not to get two, but at least we got something."

5. Hamilton's Absence

With the news of the day that Dougie Hamilton would be out indefinitely after undergoing successful surgery to repair a fractured fibula in his left leg, there were understandably some questions about how the Canes would go about replacing such a big presence in their lineup.

There's not a single or simple answer to that question, either.

"It's a huge loss, obviously. He's arguably our number one guy on everything," Brind'Amour said before the game. "He plays in every situation, and we count on him quite a bit."

Video: Postgame Quotes: Jaccob Slavin

There are top-pairing minutes to replace. A power play to patch up. Shorthanded minutes to fill. That all amounts to an average of 23 minutes a night, and there's obviously not a plug-and-play solution.

"He's a heck of a player," Slavin said. "The power play, Dougie makes that a heck of a lot better. And some of the offensive plays he has, he's a shooter and a great passer. His presence is missed all over the ice."

In their first game minus No. 19, the Canes paired Slavin with Edmunson, who saw his average ice time of 18:17 jump to just over a minute to 19:27. Brett Pesce, who averages 21:49 of ice time, logged over 25 minutes. His partner, Jake Gardiner, played 21:51, while Haydn Fleury drew back in alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk. Slavin then commanded the point on the first power play unit in Hamilton's stead.

Hamilton's absence was, of course, noticeable, and the Canes will be tinkering with how to best cope while he's out of the lineup.

"That's a huge part of our team missing," Brind'Amour said. "But, I don't think we were sharp. That was clearly evident."

Up Next

The Hurricanes host the New York Islanders on Sunday evening at 5 p.m.

"Right now, every point is so important. You'd like to go into break with a little bit of room. It's obviously going to be a dog fight to the end," Reimer said. "Our goal is to grind these next two games out, leave it all out there and be proud of the way we worked."

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