The Carolina Hurricanes nearly erased a three-goal deficit in the third period but fell just short in a 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Four different players scored for the Hurricanes, but Patrick Marleau's power-play goal in the third period ultimately proved to be the difference.
Here are five takeaways from this post-Thanksgiving tilt.
A loss is a loss, and the result the Hurricanes got tonight equaled the exact number of points they earned against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
"We've got to find a way to come out on the right side of those," Jeff Skinner said. "The results are the exact same: you miss two points that you could have had."
Video: Hear from Skinner, Staal, and Peters Postgame
But, all losses aren't created equally. To properly judge this game requires a deeper assessment. Yes, the Hurricanes have given up too many goals in their last two games. Yes, the Hurricanes are digging themselves holes too big from which to escape. Tonight, though, the Canes showed a fight and a will that wasn't evident on Wednesday.
"We'll take the third period and try to build on the good things," Skinner said.
Coming off Wednesday's discouraging 6-1 defeat, the Hurricanes wanted to respond strong. The team came out buzzing in the first period with numerous scoring chances and a 14-4 shot advantage, partially aided by two power-play opportunities. Frederik Andersen was undoubtedly the difference in the Canes taking a 1-0 or 2-0 lead to the locker room after 20 minutes.
"It was a good start. We created a lot," Jordan Staal said. "We have to keep pushing, keep playing that way and not have those lulls."
"I was happy with the period," head coach Bill Peters said. "There's no reason to get discouraged. You've just got to stay with it, keep playing and continue to generate those types of quality chances. I thought there were good looks in the first."
But then there was the second period, in which the Maple Leafs capitalized with four goals on 12 shots. Zach Hyman, Josh Leivo and former Hurricane Ron Hainsey turned a scoreless game into a 3-0 match in the first 11-and-a-half minutes of the period.
The Hurricanes got one back when Derek Ryan kicked a Jeff Skinner pass to his stick and scored five-hole on Andersen in the slot. James van Riemsdyk, older brother of the Hurricanes' Trevor, stretched the Leafs' lead back to three goals just prior to the second intermission.
Video: TOR@CAR: Ryan goes five-hole on Andersen
"We gave up too many goals to start. There was a few too many defensive lapses," Staal said. "We've got to tighten up."
"We've given up too many goals," Peters said. "I don't think we're going to outscore our decisions and mistakes. That's probably the thing we need to clean up ASAP."
Down three heading into the third period, the Hurricanes could have again folded until the sound of the final horn.
But, to the Canes' credit, that's not what happened.
"There are a few guys in the room between the second and third that said we're not quitting on this game. We did that against the Rangers, and we weren't going to do that again," Staal said. "We made a push in the third. It was good to see everyone working and battling but tough to come up short."
Staal got the Canes back within two goals with his seventh of the season just over three minutes into the third period.
Video: TOR@CAR: Staal buries one into a wide-open net
An unfortunate sequence followed shortly after. With the Canes playing with some life, Skinner skated out from behind the net, crossing right above the crease. Andersen stepped up, leaned into Skinner and then flopped like a fish out of water, drawing a goaltender interference call on the Canes' incredulous forward.
"That's a big point in the game. I thought I was just skating, that's all," Skinner said. "I didn't hear anything. I was probably doing most of the talking there. I didn't get an explanation."
"I thought it was outside the blue paint. I didn't think there was much there, and I don't know if we were the actual ones who initiated the contact. I sure didn't think there was much," Peters said. "That ends up resulting in the game-winning goal, so that's a big call."
Sure enough, on the ensuing power play, Marleau banged home his ninth of the season, what turned out to be the game-winner.
"It's their winning goal. We did a good job getting a goal early in the period, and then they get one on the power play," Skinner said. "We come back, and we're just a goal short. It's tough. Those moments happen."
At the time, that goal wasn't what got the Canes into their 5-2 predicament, but it certainly loomed large considering the one-goal differential in the final score.
Video: TOR@CAR: Lindholm buries his own rebound
Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin scored goals about two minutes apart to make things interesting down the stretch, but the Hurricanes could not find the equalizer.
Video: TOR@CAR: Hanifin walks in and fires one glove side
"I thought we did a good job of trying to come back and creating offense," Staal said. "We had some good looks right at the end, too."
"I was angry, but you've got to find a way to channel that. I think guys did a good job. Lindy got a big goal there for us, and then Hani followed it up. We were pressing there in the last couple minutes," Skinner said. "We had chances and opportunities to score, even in the last minute. … We just couldn't get that one."
Victor Rask drew back into the lineup tonight after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch. It was a bit of a mental reset for the young Swedish center, whose production had gone a bit dry as of late.
Though he didn't factor in on the scoresheet tonight, he did a lot of good things. He was in the right places offensively and could have scored a pair of goals in the first period was it not for the play of Andersen.
Rask finished the night a plus-3 in 14:10 of ice time. He registered four shots on goal and three hits.
The Hurricanes close out their four-game homestand when they face off with the defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"It's a big game for us, another big game. It's going to be a good challenge for us," Skinner said. "We'll be ready for it."