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Recap: Stempniak Scores Twice in Canes Loss

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Analysis from Edmonton

→ The Carolina' Hurricanes attempted a three-goal comeback of their own on Tuesday night at Rogers Place, but it fell just shot as they were defeated 3-2 by the Edmonton Oilers.

"I thought we showed some good battle coming back," Jeff Skinner said. "It was a good job by the guys sticking with it. It's tough going down. You go down early on the road, you want to try to show some composure."

"There's lots to take away early in the year. There's good and bad in every game," head coach Bill Peters said. "Tonight, too many easy goals against, too many easy scoring chances against. We've got to tighten up. Usually when we're on top of our game and playing to our foundation, we're a little tighter than that."

Video: CAR Recap: Stempniak scores twice in tough 3-2 loss

→ It would have been perfect, really, for the Hurricanes to flip the script of their first two games, in which they surrendered three-goal leads in each, and erase a three-goal deficit of their own against the Oilers.

It came close to fruition. Lee Stempniak scored two goals in 56 seconds - the first a rebound goal off a Victor Rask shot and the second a bang-bang finish in the slot - to bring the Hurricanes within a goal early in the third period.

"We were pushing until the final buzzer," Stempniak said.

Stempniak's two tallies in 56 seconds were the quickest scored in succession by the same player since Skinner scored goals 37 seconds apart on Dec. 31, 2013 against Montreal.

→ The trio of Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Lee Stempniak has really been something. There is immense chemistry between Stempniak and his new teammates. The three, especially Skinner in particular through the first 40 minutes, created all grades of chances, including a number of odd-man rushes.

"We had a few chances but didn't score early," Stempniak said. "As the game went along, we played better and were right there. We had some good chances throughout the game, but we didn't finish enough of them."

"Even in the first we had some pretty good chances that we weren't able to capitalize on, myself especially," Skinner said. "You get one of those, and the complexion of the game changes."

What is it about the trio that has made it the Canes' best line in the early going?

"They're too very good players. Skinny skates so well, he makes plays, beats guys one-on-one. Offensively he's really dynamic, so he's an easy guy to play with," Stempniak explained. "Victor is just a really solid player. He's got a good shot, he makes the plays that are there to be made, he's good defensively. When you play with a centerman like that, it's a lot easier as a winger."

"Stemper and Rasker have been playing real well. I'm just trying to feed off them. Stemper gets himself in good spots. He's real good down low, in on the forecheck and getting pucks back. Rasker is steady in all aspects," Skinner said. "We just continue to play well in our end, try to move the puck through the neutral zone with speed and spend some time down there. That's when our strengths come out."

"Stempniak's an underrated guy. He knows how to play. He's got a heavy stick, and he's strong on the puck. He's a very intelligent player," Peter said. "Victor continues to evolve and get better as he goes. Skinny was very competitive and engaged tonight. He's a dangerous player."

→ The Hurricanes don't see much of Cam Talbot and vice versa, but his career numbers against Carolina coming into tonight's game were rather impressive: 3-0-0 with a 0.64 goals-against average, a .974 save percentage and two shutouts. Through two periods, it looked as if nothing the Canes threw at him was going to find the twine.

As the clock ticked down in the third period, Talbot made a game-saving stop on who else but Skinner, as he tossed his glove up and snared a shot off No. 53's stick.

"I would have liked to get a little more on that one and put it in, but he came across and made the save," Skinner said.

→ As probably was to be expected after getting thrashed 6-2 by Buffalo at home on Sunday night, Edmonton came out of the gate strong. They took a 2-0 lead to the dressing room after one with goals from Anton Slepyshev and Jordan Eberle. Tyler Pitlick added a third goal in the second to make it a 3-0 game.

"Given the loss and some of the comments you hear their coach had made, you know as players you want to come out and respond well to that," Stempniak said of the Oilers. "They got a couple of fortunate bounces in the first."

"I expected both teams coming off a loss to come out with lots of jump," Peters said. "That's the way it works."

→ The Hurricanes have the Flames up next, a Thursday face-off in Calgary, another opportunity to get their first win of the season.

"You don't want to go on a slide or start a losing streak," Peters said. "You've got to put an end to it, put the brakes on that. That's what we have to do Thursday in Calgary."

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