Analysis from Raleigh
→ Coming out of the bye week, the Carolina Hurricanes entered into a crucial five-game homestand that had potential to determine their fate down the stretch of the season. Today, they closed the book on a disappointing five-game stretch (1-3-1) with a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames. Johnny Gaudreau's two goals and one assist spurred the Flames, while Victor Rask's power-play tally was the Canes' lone source of offense.
"It was a slower game, and we just had to execute better from the D ranks all the way up to the forwards to create more offense," Jordan Staal said.
"I don't think we ever got going at any point in the game," head coach Bill Peters said. "We never got to a level that was high enough."
Video: CAR Recap: Rask scores in 'Canes' 3-1 loss to Flames
→ The Hurricanes were awarded an early power play, when Sam Bennett grabbed ahold of noted big man Jordan Staal. The Canes made good use of the man advantage, scoring just over 45 seconds into the 5-on-4. Jeff Skinner fed Rask cross-ice, and Rask tallied his first goal since Jan. 13. After being absent from the scoresheet for 14 straight games, Rask has now recorded a goal and an assist in his last two games. The Hurricanes are going to need more of that Rask if they want to see success down the stretch.
"It's been awhile since I scored, but it's not about scoring," Rask said. "It's about winning."
→ Finding goals at even strength, a bugaboo of the team over the last few weeks, again plagued the Hurricanes today. They had chances and out-shot the Flames but were on the wrong end of three unanswered goals over the last 40 minutes.
"I think our whole team has had a hard time being consistent. You look at the Pittsburgh effort and the effort against Ottawa, I don't think they're the same as the effort tonight. I thought our effort was lacking throughout," Peters said. "I think we could be a little better than what we were today."
Turnovers haunted the Hurricanes' offensive chances today. The Canes were charged with 10 giveaways, while the Flames notched 24 takeaways.
"A lot of it was on us. We turned over the puck a lot," Staal said. "Through the neutral zone, we had a tough time getting through it with efficiency and speed. Once we did get it behind them, we had a tough time getting it back and playing in their end."
"A lot of turnovers. That makes it hard," Peters said. "I thought the turnovers and puck management led to a lot of trouble."
Video: Hear from Victor Rask postgame
Micheal Ferland and Gaudreau netted second period goals for the Flames to give them a one-goal lead heading into the second intermission. Ferland, sprung by Gaudreau, converted on a breakaway attempt. Gaudreau then gathered his own blocked shot and scored late in the period to snag his team its first lead.
Gaudreau extended the Flames' advantage in the third period, snapping off a shot in the slot that took a bounce off Canes' bodies in front and past Eddie Lack.
→ Brock McGinn missed today's game with an upper-body injury, and Peters said his absence was felt.
"We missed his energy and his competitiveness" he said. "We could have used a little more of both of those and the ability to get in on the body and finish some checks."
→ Next up for the Hurricanes is a back-to-back set in Florida against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. That leads in to an incredibly busy March in which the Canes play at least every other day, totaling 17 games in just a 30-day stretch.
"For how consistent we've been at home, it's been frustrating these last few. They were big games," Staal said. "Consistently we weren't good enough to win NHL hockey games."
"We've just got to bounce back here," Rask said. "I think everyone really wants to win here, so we've just got to figure it out and get the win."