Hurricanes beaten by Flames as former Canes do much of the damage

Derek Ryan had a goal and assist, and Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin also scored Sunday.

A year ago, that would have been a very good thing for the Carolina Hurricanes. On Sunday, it did the Canes in. The three former Canes helped the Calgary Flames, coached by Bill Peters, take a 4-3 victory at PNC Arena.

As Peters said, “You can’t write that.”

Not much was made at the game about the return of Peters, the Canes coach for four seasons, or three players who were in the Carolina lineup this time last season -- Lindholm, Ryan and Hanifin. A very brief mention was made of the four on the video board during an early first-period break.

Lindholm did draw some extra attention after the game. As he was leaving the ice he clapped his hands over his head -- mocking the Canes’ home-ice celebrations after victories.

“It was a tough game and it could have gone either way and I’m glad we got the two points,” said Lindholm, who scored his 24th of the season. “It was kind of surreal that all of us scored, the Carolina guys, but two points is all that matters.”

This wasn’t a day about welcome-backs or niceties. The Canes were looking to build on a 5-2 win Friday against the Vegas Golden Knights and pull closer to playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and the Flames seeking to rebound from a 4-3 road loss to the Washington Capitals.

Lindholm had a power-play goal for the Flames, the puck hitting a shin guard and getting past goalie Petr Mrazek in the first period. Ryan scored on a wraparound, then had the setup pass to Garnet Hathaway for a shorthanded score in the second.

Hanifin unloaded a shot from the top of the slot at 13:05 of the third for a 4-2 lead. Mrazek was furious, claiming goaltender interference by the Flames’ James Neal, and Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour used his coach’s challenge but the goal was upheld after review.

Hanifin’s goal would be the game-winner after the Canes pulled Mrazek for an extra attacker and Sebastian Aho scored in the final minute of regulation with the Canes using an extra attacker.

“The fact all of the guys who played here contributed was pretty cool and definitely pretty rare,” Hanifin said. “It was definitely a special game for us and easy to get up for.”

Some former Flames also had their say in the game. Forward Micheal Ferland had the primary assist on Teuvo Teravainen’s first-period goal after an Aho steal in the Calgary zone, and set up Aho’s late goal, his 24th.

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton pulled the Canes within 3-2 in the second by zipping a shot past goalie David Rittich, who earned his 20th win of the season with 33 saves.

Rittich and Mrazek both made some acrobatic saves, Mrazek closing with 28 saves.

“It was a good game and there was a lot of excitement in it and lots of chances,” Brind’Amour said. “Obviously we needed to win more than they did, so it hurts.”

Much was made of the June 2018 trade in which the Canes sent Lindholm and Hanifin, two former first-round draft picks, to Calgary for Ferland and Hamilton. That deal came about two months after Peters resigned from the Canes and was quickly hired by the Flames.

When Ryan signed with Calgary as a free agent, Peters had brought in a center that he once coached in junior, that found his way into the NHL with the Canes and Peters after a few years in Europe.

Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters reacts during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Gerry Broome AP

All has gone well for the former Canes as the Flames have soared, leading the NHL’s Pacific Division and posting the best point total in the Western Conference. That has made Peters a top candidate for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach.

Lindholm’s goal Sunday was his 23rd of the season, a career high, and extended the Swede’s point streak to a career-best 10 games. Ryan scored his fifth and picked up his 14th assist while Hanifin also scored his fifth.

Hamilton and Ferland were in the starting lineup as Brind’Amour sent out his two former Flames. Ferland then figured in the game’s first goal and Hamilton’s second-period goal was badly needed by the Canes after falling behind 3-1.

Hamilton fired off a quick undercut after beating Rittich to the glove side. But Rittich made one of his best saves early in the third, moving quickly to his right to deny Justin Williams off the rush.

It also hurt the Canes that they could not get anything out of their power plays -- allowing the shorthanded score and not producing any offensive chances that Rittich couldn’t defeat or deflate.

“That’s the difference in the game,” Brind’Amour said of the power plays.

The Canes next go on the road for five games, the first against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

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.