Noah Hanifin’s scored his first NHL goal, making some franchise history, but the Carolina Hurricanes needed more.
Goalie Eddie Lack made some nice saves in net, but the Canes needed more.
The Anaheim Ducks proved to be more than the Canes could handle Monday, getting a goal and two assists from forward Carl Hagelin and sound goaltending from Anton Khudobin in a 4-1 win at PNC Arena.
Khudobin, returning to face his former team, finished with 24 saves in earning his third win of the season. But good scoring chances were hard to find for the Canes against a gritty, physical team that puts sticks on pucks in the defensive zone and seals off shooting lanes.
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Hanifin was the only one to beat Khudobin, who played for the Canes the past two years before a June trade at Anaheim. The defenseman, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, took a pass from Joakim Nordstrom and blasted a rising shot from the left point at 3:38 of the second period, tying the score 1-1.
“It’s tough when you don’t get the win because that’s the main concern,” Hanifin said. “Obviously it was nice to get it. I’ll remember that forever. It's special.
“I was getting a little tight. I wanted to get a goal. It was nice it finally happened but we have to focus on winning games.”
Hanifin, in his 15th NHL game, became the youngest defenseman in franchise history (18 years, 295 days) to score a goal. Dana Murzyn set that record in October 1985 with the Hartford Whalers at 18 years, 325 days.
The Canes (6-10-2) hoped to make the current five-game homestand a turning point in the season but have gone 0-1-2 in the first three games.
“We couldn’t seem to get our legs going in long spurts tonight and get momentum going in our favor,” Canes defenseman John-Michael Liles said. “We’ve just got to turn it around.”
Shawn Horcoff scored a first-period goal when the puck glanced off his stick and past Lack, who was making his first start since Nov. 6. The play was reviewed and the goal counted, although Canes coach Bill Peters believed Horcoff distinctly kicked the puck in the net.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen scored the winning goal at 13:08 of the second, freezing Canes defenseman Ron Hainsey with a fake in the circle and ripping a shot past Lack.
Hagelin, acquired in an offseason trade from the New York Rangers, had been struggling and was benched in the third period Friday of a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. But the speedy winger assisted on the first two goals, then beat Lack with a wraparound in the third for a 3-1 lead.
That was enough for Khudobin, who Carolina traded for defenseman James Wisniewski after the Canes picked up Lack in a trade with Vancouver. Khudobin had 11 saves in the third.
Ryan Getzlaf scored his first goal of the season with a late empty-netter for the Ducks (6-8-4), the lowest-scoring team in the NHL entering Monday’s game.
By game’s end, the only thing to cheer for Canes fans in the crowd of 9,305 was the goal by Hanifin, who has two assists this season and had come close to scoring.
“I think it will take the weight of the world off his shoulders a little bit,” Peters said.
As for the weight on the Canes’ shoulders, that remains.
“We have to keep playing. There’s lots of hockey left,” Peters said. “We’ve got to find a way to get going a little bit more and score more.”