A night after erupting for six goals in Toronto, the Carolina Hurricanes were edged, 2-1, by the St. Louis Blues at PNC Arena.
Jeff Skinner netted his team-leading sixth goal of the season to draw the score even in the second period, but Brayden Schenn's marker in the third was the difference-maker.
Here are five takeaways from tonight's cross-conference match.
Let's cut right to the game-changing sequence in this one. There was just one penalty assessed in the game, and it was levied against Vladimir Tarasenko at the eight-minute mark of the third period. With the game tied at one, the Hurricanes had a golden opportunity to take a lead in front of their home crowd.
Instead, the man advantage misfired. The Canes couldn't gain the zone with any amount of ease, and the Blues' killers were there to fire the puck down the ice.
On the next shift, the Canes got hemmed in their own zone and failed to clear the puck a couple of times. Brayden Schenn then got to a rebound and punched it in for what would be the game-winning goal.
"It needed to be better. We didn't execute very well there at all," head coach Bill Peters said of the power play. "They get momentum from that kill and then score the game-winner on the next shift."
"That could have been a big turning point for us and it was for them. They killed and scored right after," Justin Williams said. "I'm part of the power play unit, and that was a frustrating one for sure."
The Blues' first goal, scored at the 14:38 mark of the second period, was much of the same story: the Canes couldn't clear, the Blues hemmed them in and then took advantage of the long, grinding shift.
"Sustained pressure, and then they capitalize on it," Williams said.
"I thought they forechecked well and had good sticks," Peters said. "You've got to give them credit. They were quick to pucks and effective in the O-zone."
The Blues also gave the Canes fits at the other end of the ice, getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots - 28 of them, to be exact.
"It was a bit of a tough night. They're a real good team. I thought our execution might not have been on point at times," Cam Ward said. "They're a good shot-blocking team. They made it extremely tough to get pucks to the net. Kudos to them. They played a strong game throughout."
"They bottled up the offensive blue line, which is where a lot of our turnovers came," Williams said. "When there are turnovers, that's when you get tired going up and down the ice. They did a good job of that."
"They did a good job getting in lanes, no question about that," Peters said. "They had multiple layers and some big blocks. I thought we had a little push in the second there. We had a couple good chances … but didn't get it done."
After their offense exploded for six goals a night prior, the Hurricanes managed to get just one by Carter Hutton tonight. But it was a beauty.
Skating down the ice with Skinner on an odd-man rush, Williams dangled with the puck and as he was falling (with style) to the ice, he tapped a behind-the-back pass over to Skinner, who made the finish look easy for his sixth goal in nine games.
Video: STL@CAR: Skinner nets Williams' gorgeous dish
"I just ran out of options, really. I wanted to pass first, and they took it away. Then wanted to shoot, then I wanted to toe drag and at the last minute I figured I'd try to get it over," Williams said. "He's a goal-scorer. You try to get him the puck as best you can."
With the game equal at one heading into the third period, the Canes would have liked to walk away with at least a point, even in a game where they might not have had their best.
"I thought it was an even game through 40," Peters said. "Then they kind of got on the attack more so than we did in the third. We didn't push back. We tried, but I don't think we mounted much."
"What we can't do is have this develop into a pattern of not getting points when tied after two. We need to rectify that. You need to bank at least one," Williams said. "We need to learn - and we haven't done it yet - to win 1-0, 2-1. We haven't won those games yet."
In his second start of the season, Cam Ward was excellent. He made 32 saves on 34 shots and gave the Hurricanes a chance at two points tonight, which is all you can really ask.
"I'm doing what I can to prepare, stay sharp in practice, be a pro and support these guys," he said. "When you get that opportunity to play, you want to try to take advantage of it and feel like you're contributing. I want to contribute and try to get wins for the guys. I thought I was seeing the puck real well and moving well. Gave us a chance, but unfortunately we came up short."
Video: STL@CAR: Ward stops Upshall's quick chance
Ward's best save came in a scoreless game when he made a beauty of a glove stop on Scottie Upshall on a Blues' rush up the ice in the second period.
"I thought he was real good. I thought he was real solid in and around the net," Peters said. "He cut off a lot of plays with his stick. He was solid and gave us a chance."
There has to be some concern for Teuvo Teravainen, who left tonight's game early in the second period and did not return with an upper-body injury. Teravainen was upended away from the puck in the neutral zone by Alexander Steen, a play that seemed to be textbook interference but wasn't whistled. Teravainen landed awkwardly on the ice and looked to be in pain from the get-go. He was helped up and off the ice by head athletic trainer Doug Bennett, and Peters had no further update to pass along after the game.
Should Teravainen be unavailable on Sunday, Janne Kuokkanen will draw back into the lineup.
The Hurricanes host the Anaheim Ducks in a 5 p.m. matinee faceoff on Sunday.