Carolina Hurricanes losing games, losing confidence

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 3, 2013 

— What now for the Carolina Hurricanes?

That’s hard to say. The Canes have lost five straight games after a 5-1 beating Saturday by the New York Rangers. Goaltenders Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin are injured. No one is scoring goals. Confidence is low.

Canes coach Kirk Muller tried to shake up some things Saturday in New York. Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Alex Semin played together on the same line. Why not? Nothing else was working.

The Canes (4-7-3) scored once Monday in losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were shut out 3-0 Friday by Tampa Bay,

Eric Staal had six of the Canes' 28 shots against the Rangers, and Jordan Staal and Semin each had two. The line did some effective forechecking early in the game, but the Rangers did a better job getting the puck out of their zone and using their speed as the game wore on.

The Canes' first period was a good one . But one rush into the Canes' zone by the Rangers and Carl Hagelin scored on a backhander from the slot for a 1-0 lead.

The Canes then fell asleep on a power play in the second period and Hagelin jumped out of the penalty box to score again. Derek Stepan took it from there, recording a hat trick to finish it off for the surging Rangers, who have won four of their past five and are moving up in the Metropolitan Division.

"You could tell our jump was there at the beginning,” Jordan Staal said after the game. “We just couldn't keep it going and it wasn't a good enough effort the rest of the game."

Trailing 3-1 after the second, after a power-play goal from Andrej Sekera in the final minute of the period, the Canes came out attacking in the third. But Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stifled any hopes of a comeback with some nice saves. Stepan scored a couple of times and that was that.

"We did get a few opportunities but we still have to play even better to win games and we're still not doing that," Jordan Staal said. "There are times when when we do play well and just have breakdowns that cost us. There's no consistency of sticking with our game all throughout the game."

Khudobin is still hobbling and not able to practice and Ward could be sidelined until Thanksgiving. Justin Peters played reasonably well against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay but was shaky at times against the Rangers.

Hagelin's first goal came on a well-placed shot. On his second, after bolting out of the box, the speedy forward got the puck between Peters' pads.

"We came out flying, playing the game plan we wanted to play," Peters said. "It seemed like once they got that first one, they got the momentum going. (Hagelin) made a pretty good shot, a backhand through traffic."

And the second one?

"I kind of bobbled it," Peters said. "I wish I had just corralled it. Unfortunately, that one trickled in."

Muller noted after the game the Canes did not get the "timely saves" from Peters. He also said, "We need to score more for him, get the lead."

The Canes need injured forward Jeff Skinner back in the lineup. They need the guys who have proven they can score goals doing it while getting more help from those who aren't known as scorers.

The Hurricanes also need to win at home. Carolina begins a five-game homestand with a 1-3-3 record at PNC Arena.

Peters was asked Saturday how the the Canes can end the five-game skid.

"Persistency,” Peters said. “Being persistent, working hard, staying on course.”

NOTE: The Canes on Sunday placed forward Brett Sutter on waivers with the intent of assigning him to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). NHL teams have until noon Monday to claim Sutter off waivers.

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