Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters didn’t raise his voice and didn’t have to. The disgust was evident.
The Canes were beaten 3-1 by the Minnesota Wild on Friday at PNC Arena and Peters wasn’t happy with any of it. While the Wild may be the hottest team in the league and goalie Devan Dubnyk the hottest in net, Peters was thoroughly displeased with nearly all of what he saw on the ice from his team.
The first period?
“Didn’t have any energy, didn’t have any jump, didn’t have any execution,” Peters said.
The Canes did tie the score 1-1 in the second period on Riley Nash’s first goal in 18 games and outshot the Wild 16-4 in the period. But the Wild’s Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise scored about two minutes apart early in the third and the Canes couldn’t find a way to get another puck past the 6-foot-6 Dubnyk, an agile big man in net who had 37 saves.
Peters made changes after the first. He paired Justin Faulk with Jack Hillen defensively, putting Ron Hainsey with Brett Bellemore. He moved winger Elias Lindholm onto Jordan Staal’s line and had Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin as the wingers on Nash’s line.
“We couldn’t continue watching it the way it was. It wasn’t working, obviously,” Peters said.
But the Canes (24-32-7) couldn’t muster enough in the third. Granlund scored when a centering pass went off the skate of Canes forward Chris Terry and past goalie Anton Khudobin. A turnover in the Carolina zone by Hainsey led to Parise scoring off the rebound of a shot by Jason Pominville, who had two assists.
“We looked unorganized, we looked disinterested,” Peters said.
The Canes had 17 shots in the final period but Dubnyk, recently named the NHL’s first star for February, had all the answers.
As for Khudobin, he never looked comfortable in the crease. As Peters put it, “Just like the rest of us, didn’t look sharp at all.”
Peters didn’t stop there, quickly adding, “It didn’t look like we wanted to put the work in to be successful. We used to be this hard-working, honest group. We haven’t been the last two times out.”
The Canes, after winning three straight, were beaten 5-2 by the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. They had seemingly productive practices Wednesday and Thursday, but it did not translate to Friday’s game.
What has changed the past two games?
“I’m not sure,” Peters said. “But we’re going to have to get it figured out because we’re not going to watch this 19 more times, I know that.”
Nash’s last goal came Jan. 10 against the St. Louis Blues. He ended that drought, and picked up his eighth of the season, on a two-on-one rush with Skinner, who made a perfect setup pass.
Skinner and Lindholm each had five shots, and Skinner had a shot bang off the crossbar during a second-period power play. But Dubnyk’s large frame leaves little openings.
Since obtained Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14 for a third-round draft pick – the steal of the season – the Wild has gone 18-3-2 and moved into solid playoff position in the Western Conference. Dubnyk has started all 23 games, a franchise record, and lowered the impressive numbers – a 1.62 goals-against average, .938 save percentage – he had during the streak before Friday.
“Obviously he’s playing real well and stopping what he can see,” Skinner said. “He’s a big guy, and you have to find ways to get traffic and get second and third opportunities.”
Charlie Coyle had the game’s first goal for the Wild (36-22-7), scoring a few seconds after Carolina had killed off the first penalty of the game.
One highlight for the Canes was defenseman Rasmus Rissanen making his NHL debut. But the Canes have work to do – Saturday’s practice could be interesting – before facing the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday at PNC Arena.
“We’ve got to be ready from the puck drop and continue it on for 60 minutes,” Nash said.
It’s safe to say Peters will be demanding that.