The Carolina Hurricanes’ first exhibition was typical in that it had few real surprises.
In the Canes’ case, there were good moments and bad Sunday, nice plays and sloppy turnovers, sharp shots and missed opportunities.
The Hurricanes dropped a 4-3 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena in Bill Peters’ first appearance behind the bench as coach. But for Peters, it was more about player evaluation than worrying about the outcome.
“There was some good and some bad,” Peters said. “We didn’t give up a lot of quantity, but we gave up some quality. I wasn’t very happy about the quality of the chances we gave up – we broke down. But a couple are easy corrections we can make.”
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The Hurricanes were playing after just two training-camp days, and there still are some areas to be addressed. But Carolina did score twice on the power play – on goals from Andrej Sekera and Chris Terry – and Riley Nash had an even-strength score as the Canes outshot the Blue Jackets 32-19.
Cam Ward got the start in net and played a little more than half of the game before Alex Nedeljkovic, a second-round draft pick by the Canes this year, took over. Ward gave up three goals on 13 shots but all came on quality shots by the Blue Jackets, who were were playing their preseason opener.
“For the most part I thought we got a good read on all 18 skaters and I thought ‘Wardo’ was good,” Peters said. “On the goals we gave up, there’s nothing the goalies can do. We’ve got to be better defensively than that.”
Cam Atkinson had a pair of goals for the Blue Jackets, beating Ward on a breakaway in the first period. Nick Foligno had a second-period power-play score, getting inside the defense to knock in the rebound of a Mark Letestu shot, and Mike Hoeffel scored on a shot through traffic in the second.
Jeff Skinner, who has been sharp early in training camp, assisted on the Sekera and Nash goals. Terry’s power-play score was set up by a nice cross-ice pass from Sergey Tolchinsky.
Tolchinsky and defensemen Haydn Fleury, the Canes’ first-round pick this year, are 19 and 18 respectively. Both got their first taste of NHL competition.
“At first I was bit nervous,” Fleury said. “Once you get out there, making hits and making plays, you get a little more relaxed.”
Canes captain Eric Staal was to have played Sunday and centered Skinner and Elias Lindholm but was held out as a precaution. Nash replaced Staal, and the line, which played together late last season, was the Canes’ most effective.
The Canes will continue their preseason schedule Tuesday with a road game against the Buffalo Sabres as the learning curve under the new coach continues.
“Technically, system-wise, there are some differences,” Skinner said. “I think there’s going to be some adjustments there. Just practicing new stuff for a few days, there’s just not enough time to get where you’re doing it automatically. There will be some adjustments there, but it will be for the better hopefully.
“The game’s so fast it takes a little time for that stuff to be automatic. But we’ve got a lot of good players in here and smart hockey guys, so we should be able to pick up on that stuff.”