Canes suffer rare home loss to Senators, 4-1

Nino Niederreiter’s first game with the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t prove to be very memorable.

The Canes were beaten 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators, a team battling through a challenging season but playing some of their best hockey of late, winning four of their last five.

The Canes’ play and execution was so poor, up and down the lineup, that coach Rod Brind’Amour said he apologized to Niederreiter, the veteran forward who was traded to Carolina on Thursday by the Minnesota Wild.

“It was so bad I almost dressed and got out there,” Brind’Amour said. “I might have been as good as what we were throwing out there, because we just didn’t play the way we’re supposed to. I didn’t know what I was watching. It’s the first time all year I could say that.

“They were trying. Everyone was trying, trying to do too much. It’s tough this time of year to have that kind of game. That’s the disappointing part for me. We have to pick the pieces up tomorrow and get back to work.”

The Canes (22-20-5), who went into the game seven points out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference, had picked up points in 18 straight games against the Senators on home ice, going 16-0-2 in the past 18 games. That came to an end Friday, as did Carolina’s five-game overall win streak at home.

The Sens (19-24-5) were the quicker, more alert, more aggressive team in their first win at PNC Arena since March 2015. They got to pucks first, won all the important faceoffs.

While the Canes got some sparkling stops from goalie Petr Mrazek, the Sens’ Anders Nilsson was better in net, finishing with 33 saves. It also helped Nilsson that the Senators blocked 27 shots, seven by defenseman Cody Ceci.

Canes forward Warren Foegele did sneak the puck through Nilsson in the second period for his sixth of the season. Fighting through traffic in the slot with the puck, he got off a sharp-angle shot that hit Nilsson’s paddle and popped through his pads.

Magnus Paajarvi had a first-period goal for the Sens, whacking a rebound past Mrazek, and was so stoked about scoring that he fell to the ice. Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone and Christian Wolanin then had second-period scores to give Ottawa a 4-1 lead.

“The way we have to play to be successful, they kind of played our game and rammed it down our throats,” Canes forward Jordan Martinook said. “They showed us how good it is when you play that way.”

Ryan’s goal came after sustained pressure by the Sens in the Carolina zone, and Stone had a quick-wrister from the top of the left circle after a face-off win for his 22nd. Wolanin made it 4-1 for the Senators, the defenseman jumping into the rush as the Sens beat the Canes down the ice in transition.

Niederreiter was in the starting lineup Friday, playing left wing on a line with center Greg McKegg and winger Justin Williams and had some offensive opportunities. “He was fine,” BrindAmour said.

The Canes, after winning seven of eight games, had a miserable 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday at the Garden, when the Canes’ best line was centered by Rask and had rookie Saku Maenalanen score both goals. That was Carolina’s 16th straight loss to the Rangers in New York.

Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook (48) works between Ottawa Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson (31) and Senators’ Cody Ceci (5) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) Karl B DeBlaker AP

The Canes, who beat the Sens 5-4 early in January in Ottawa, had some early jump Friday but never got into a good flow or rhythm, failing to convert on two first-period power plays. Nor did forward Micheal Ferland win his fight with defenseman Mark Borowiecki, the Sens’ tough guy, late in the first.

A clearcut win by Ferland in a fight Sunday against Nashville’s Austin Watson helped key a 6-3 win over the Predators. But no heavy punches were landed in this one, which resulted in a Sens power play.

The Canes play their last three games before the NHL All-Star Game break on the road -- at Edmonton, Calgary and then Vancouver. They don’t play at home again until Feb. 1, against the Vegas Golden Knights.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.