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Recap: Hurricanes Shut Out by Maple Leafs

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Analysis from Raleigh

→ Life after the bye week has not been kind to the Carolina Hurricanes. After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, the Hurricanes were shut out 4-0 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who currently occupy the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Curtis McElhinney posted 37 saves in his first shutout with the Leafs and fifth of his career.

"It's not good enough from everyone," Jordan Staal said. "There's no real excuse tonight."

Video: Hear from Staal, Skinner, and Peters Postgame

→ The Hurricanes had the advantage in shots and scoring chances for much of the night, but this recent four-game stretch has been plagued by the team's inability to finish. The Canes have scored just three goals in their last four games and have been shut out twice while notching a 0-3-1 record following three straight wins coming out of the All-Star break.

"I thought we were fine after 20. After 40 we could have been on the board, but we weren't," head coach Bill Peters said. "The third one took a lot of wind out of our sails."

"It's frustrating. It cost us the game. Everyone knows where we are, but we need to find ways to win games and get results," Jeff Skinner said. "It's not enough to just out-chance or out-shoot teams. You need to find ways to capitalize on your opportunities. Right now we're not doing a good enough job."

Now, the Canes face an even more uphill climb in the standings, as they find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference with 27 games remaining.

"You've got to stay with it," Peters said. "You're doing something right if you're generating quality chances."

→ After a scoreless first period, the Maple Leafs tallied two goals in the second period to take a two-goal lead into the intermission. Still, the Hurricanes were a shot away from getting right back in it. Then Toronto added two quick tallies in the third, and that was that.

"It's been a few games now of the puck not going in and getting good looks," Staal said. "We just needed one in the third, and there was nothing really there. It was unfortunate."

"A lot of the goals, if you look at it, there's a common theme. I think we got skated a little bit and lost body position," Peters said. "I don't like the way we responded to the third goal they scored. I thought we sagged, definitely."

Eddie Lack replaced Cam Ward in net for the latter half of the third period. Lack has started one game since returning from a pair of concussions, and with the score at 4-0, tonight allowed an opportunity for him to face shots in a game scenario. Lack stopped all seven shots he faced in his relief appearance.

→ In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Hurricanes are going to need to string together a significant winning streak. They host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday in their third game of this five-game homestand.

"We're going to come back with a better effort in the next game," Staal said. "[Pittsburgh is a] good team and a good test for us."

"We've got a lot of hockey left. You've got to stay with it and keep working," Skinner said. "We're in a little bit of a funk now, but you've got to find ways to get out of it. The only way that's going to happen is if you do it yourself. You can't sit around and wait for things to break your way. We have to work for our chances and breaks."

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