Two games into the season and two trends already are emerging for the Carolina Hurricanes:
1, the ability to build a three-goal lead.
2, the inability to hold a three-goal lead.
OK, and a third trend, losing in overtime, giving up points that might be needed later in the season.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Not to be forgotten in the dismay over a pair of overtime losses is that the teams the Canes played — Winnipeg in the season opener, Vancouver on Sunday — were on home ice, playing hard and urged on by their fans.
The Canes appeared rattled in the third period Thursday when the Jets’ comeback began with Blake Wheeler’s shorthanded goal. The Canucks began theirs earlier, with a Bo Horvat goal in the second period a few seconds after the Canes killed off a Viktor Stalberg tripping penalty in the offensive zone.
Goalie Eddie Lack came up with some big saves for the Canes, especially early when the Canucks could have taken a one- or two-goal lead.
“We didn’t start on time, which is disappointing,” Canes coach Bill Peters said after the game. “He did a good job. He’s big, he held his ground.”
Lack was hurt later by loose defensive play in front of him and then in overtime when Brandon Sutter had the open look from the right circle and buried the shot for a 4-3 win.
The Canes had just 22 shots on net, three came shorthanded, and they were outshot 13-5 in the third, when the Canucks appeared to spend almost the entire period in Canes’ zone. At Winnipeg, the Jets scored their last two goals of regulation on the power play and then with a sixth attacker. The Canucks got it done in the third at even strength, beating the Canes five on five for a pair of goals.
“We’ve scored some goals,” Peters said. “Certain guys are doing the right things in order to score, other guys are a little late to the party in that regard. Now we will be able to make a couple of changes to our lineup to make our team better.”
Peters didn’t say which changes are coming but one will be getting newly acquired defenseman Jakub Nakladal into the lineup. He joined the team in Vancouver and should be good to go for the Edmonton game on Tuesday.
Peters may look to give forward Phil Di Giuseppe his first game. Di Giuseppe had a strong preseason and can add both speed and physicality.
A nice trend for the Canes has been the power play producing goals. A power play Sunday that ended with Teuvo Teravainen scoring his first goal for the Canes was as well-executed as any in recent memory, with quick puck movement, screens by Elias Lindholm in the slot and Bryan Bickell in front and a dead-eye shot by Teravainen that beat goalie Jacob Markstrom.
“We’re doing a better job of having net-front presence,” Peters said. “Somebody shoots it up top, we’ve got a double screen, Markstrom I don’t think finds it and it goes out to (Teravainen) on the flank and he scores. The goaltender never sees where the puck was.”
Victor Rask now has goals in both of the first two games and the Rask line looks solid. Rookie Sebastian Aho has points in both games although there are times he’s looked a bit lost and unsure of himself, although he’s not the only one.
The Canes have to be a lot cleaner in their zone. Nakladal may help with that, but he’s also another new face in the lineup.
The Canes also may have to look at their overtime approach. Puck possession is everything 3-on-3 and shots have to be selective.
The Canes began the past two seasons with a pair of regulation losses. They wanted better this season, obviously, but are 0-0-2.
“Identify the problem and be solution-based. That’s what we’ll do,” Peters said.