Analysis from Denver
→ Squaring off against an offensively starved team in the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves hungry for offense in a narrow 3-1 defeat. Justin Faulk's first-period goal was the lone marker for the Hurricanes, while Tyson Barrie's last-minute tally in the second held up as the game-winner.
"I thought we were OK," head coach Bill Peters said. "Two quick ones there at the end of the second obviously turned the tide."
→ The Hurricanes had a 1-0 lead until the last minutes of the second period. Then, in 46 short seconds, it disappeared. The Canes were just two seconds shy of their first and only successful penalty kill of the game when Tyson Barrie's wrist shot from atop the near circle was redirected in the slot by Gabriel Landeskog.
"Real good net-front presence and off Landeskog's stick, so give them credit there," Peters said.
Then, in the final minute of the middle stanza, Barrie snapped home a shot from nearly the same location.
Nathan MacKinnon sealed the Avs win, which snapped a four-game skid, with an empty-net goal in the final minute of regulation after the Hurricanes were unable to generate much offensively to draw the game even.
"We weren't able to generate enough speed coming through the neutral zone. That's what held us to so few chances," Jaccob Slavin said. "We just stopped playing fast. When we play quick, that's our strong point."
"I didn't think we generated a whole bunch from start to finish," Peters said. "We've struggled to score in this five-game segment."
→ In his 126th NHL game, defenseman Slavin had the opportunity to play in his hometown for the first time in his career. The Colorado native had a large, sign-toting contingent posted up along the glass during warm-ups, and when his name was announced in the starting lineup, he was greeted with generous applause, considering the otherwise hostile territory.
"Obviously it would have been nice to get the two points, but with a lot of family and friends out there, it was a lot of fun," Slavin said. "It's really special. Growing up here, watching the Avs play, growing up just 30 minutes from here, it's definitely really special to come back here and play at the Pepsi Center. A lot of good memories here."
Slavin made his presence felt early, as he factored in on the scoring play that gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 advantage. The Canes' sophomore defenseman set up Jeff Skinner for one-touch pass over to Justin Faulk, whose wrist shot beat Calvin Pickard clean.
"We were playing quick. We were playing with speed, and our D was getting up in the rush. The forwards were getting it behind their D and working them down low," Slavin said. "We got away from that a bit in the third period, and you can't let that happen. You have to be able to play a full 60."
→ In games in which the offense struggles, near-misses become magnified. There was a Jordan Staal snap shot that rang off the post in the second period. Then, there was an apparent Teuvo Teravainen power-play goal that was negated due to Sebastian Aho's stick interfering with Pickard, a play that Peters challenged but did not win.
"When we first got to look at it on the bench, we didn't have that angle of the stick. We knew there was no contact in the blue paint. We weren't worried about that," Peters explained. "Then we got the later look after we had already challenged, obviously the stick to the throat area was impactful."
"It would have been nice if that could have been there, but regardless we have to be able to play through that," Slavin said.
→ Tonight was a game in which you felt the absences of forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn, both of whom are sidelined with upper-body injuries.
"You miss Ginner and Phil because of the energy and physicality they bring to the game," Peters said. "They drag guys into the battle. Definitely miss those guys."
Possibly related: the Hurricanes were credited with just five hits in the game: two in the first, two in the second and one in the third.
→ A frantic March schedule continues for the Hurricanes on Thursday when they host the New York Rangers. The Canes will play five of their next six games at PNC Arena.