Analysis from Ottawa
→ This sounds familiar, doesn't it? Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. A 1-1 game heading into the third period. Earlier in the month, overtime settled the score, 2-1 in favor of the Senators. Tonight, Ottawa scored the game-winner in the last five minutes of the game to win another, 2-1, and hand the Hurricanes back-to-back regulation losses for just the second time this season.
"The effort was good. Can't fault the effort," head coach Bill Peters said. "We've got to find a way to score more, not only at home but on the road. You've got to be able to generate offense. I thought we generated some chances but we need a little bit more finish."
"It was pretty tight. It didn't look like much going on," Jordan Staal said. "Both teams did a good job of keeping mistakes to a minimum and not giving much."
"It is frustrating. Any time you give up a late goal that's the game-winning goal, it's frustrating," said Cam Ward, who made 22 saves. "It's important that we park it here, fly back to Raleigh and get ready for Florida."
Video: CAR Recap: Hurricanes give up late goal, fall 2-1
→ With just over three-and-a-half minutes left to play in regulation, Kyle Turris skated into the zone with speed, worked his way around Jaccob Slavin and beat Cam Ward for his 10th goal of the season. The Hurricanes had some looks down the stretch but couldn't sneak another past Craig Anderson, who made 32 saves.
"I don't think we're playing terrible, but there's obviously things we can improve on. We still need to create more offense," Staal said. "We're still going to have to connect on a few more goals if we want to consistently win."
→ With one flick of the wrist, what seemed to be a game in the Canes' control suddenly became a 1-1 tie. The Hurricanes were absolutely dominant in the Senators' end, grinding shift after shift with constant puck possession. Then the play went the other way, and Dion Phaneuf found a soft spot in the Canes' defense, beating Cam Ward with a quick shot.
That goal seemed to swing the tide of the period a bit, but the Hurricanes took the 1-1 deadlock to the room after 40 minutes.
"It's the neutral zone a lot," Staal explained about why these two teams play closely contested matches. "Both teams are very passive, staying above guys and standing at the blue line. It's tough to get much speed through the neutral zone with the puck and create plays. The only plays you're going to get are 5-on-5 down low. Those can be difficult to create sometimes. Getting point shots through with 10 guys in front of the net is not going to be pretty sometimes. Even our goal wasn't pretty."
→ Good things happen when you put the puck on net. That's exactly what Sebastian Aho did in the first period, and he was justly rewarded. With the puck along the near boards, Aho sent a seemingly innocent shot on net, and Craig Anderson spit out a rebound in the slot. As Staal was jockeying for position with Tom Pyatt, the puck ricocheted off Pyatt and into the net. Staal didn't find the scoresheet on the play, but he was a key factor in the Canes taking a 1-0 lead on Aho's third goal of the season.
Video: CAR@OTT: Aho opens the scoring with lucky goal
→ The Hurricanes were 5.2 seconds away from having no power play opportunities tonight, the first time that would have happened all season. Instead, Ottawa was whistled for holding the stick late, ultimately an inconsequential infraction.
"Five-second power play time," Peters said. "We used it wisely, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more than five seconds."
From my vantage point, the Canes deserved at least one full man advantage opportunity, if not more. The officials seemed more than content to let this one play out at even strength, for whatever reason.
"I thought we played in their end a lot. I thought there would be maybe a few more calls out there, but they kept it really tight on both sides," Staal said. "It was a tight game, and there wasn't a whole lot of special teams."
→ Andrej Nestrasil drew back into the lineup tonight after serving as a healthy extra in the team's last six games. He replaced forward Brock McGinn, who was sidelined with an upper-body injury.
"Nesty is a pro. He looked after himself when he wasn't playing. He did a good job handling the puck. He's a very smart player," Peters said. "I thought he made some good decisions with the puck along the wall in the high-traffic areas."
→ It's a quick turnaround for the Hurricanes, as they will host the Florida Panthers, who are also in action tonight, at 6 p.m. on Sunday in Raleigh.
"We take these efforts and keep going. It will be fine in the end," Peters said. "What you've got to do is persevere and be honest about what's going on."
"It gives us an opportunity in less than 24 hours to go back out there and continue to do what we've been doing," Ward said. "We've been playing strong. Tonight was no different. We just weren't able to find the back of the net."