The Carolina Hurricanes’ third game of the season, a 3-2 road loss to the Edmonton Oilers, was like many games last season. Which isn’t a good thing for the Canes.
The Canes had good scoring chances but couldn’t score enough goals.
The other team’s goalie was better in the game.
The Canes’ penalty killing was good but the power play came up empty.
A rookie scored his first career goal against the Canes.
A defensive mishap by the Canes resulted in a cheap goal.
The effort, for the most part, was there but the Canes (0-1-2) were left pointless after 60 minutes.
Sounds familiar, yes?
“There’s lots to take away early in the year, there’s good and bad in every game,” Canes coach Bill Peters said.
The Canes did some good things. Lee Stempniak scored twice in 56 seconds in the third period to make it a one-goal game, and the line of Stempniak, center Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner again was a game-long threat. Skinner, attacking the net, had six shots and another five attempts that either were blocked or missed the net.
“Lee Stempniak’s an underrated guy,” Peters said. “He’s got a heavy stick, he’s strong on the puck. (Skinner) was very involved and engaged tonight.”
The Oilers’ Connor McDavid, already christened the league’s next superstar, certainly in Canada, had a mostly quiet night and was kept off the scoring sheet.
But again, the mistakes and near-misses were costly for Carolina, the only NHL team starting the 2016-17 season with six road games.
In the first period, Canes defenseman Ron Hainsey tried to swat the puck away from the crease, only to knock it past goalie Cam Ward. That gave the Oilers’ Jordan Eberle a goal.
Ten seconds into the game, Canes center Jordan Staal drove the net for a shot and had goalie Cam Talbot out of position. But Staal couldn’t get enough stick on his forehand and the Canes’ Phil Di Giuseppe just missed on the rebound out of the scrum.
Late in the game, with the Canes rallying, Rask had an open look and chance to tie the score. But again Talbot made the stop.
As for Skinner, he may have had a sleepless night thinking about all the good chances he had around the net.
While McDavid didn’t score for the Oilers, Anton Slepyshev did. The rookie’s shot from the left wing may have clipped the stick of Canes defenseman Jakub Nakladal – playing his first game for Carolina – and knuckled past Ward’s glove.
Should Ward have stopped it? He’d probably say yes. Could Nakladal have been tighter on Slepyshev? He’d probably say yes. But it gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
The Hainsey misplay and then a quick shot and goal by Tyler Pitlick off a faceoff gave the Oilers a 3-0 lead in the second, all at even strength.
“Too many easy goals against, too many easy scoring chances against,” Peters said. “We’ve got to tighten up. When we’re on top of our game we’re a little tighter than that.”
Peters made lineup changes for the game, bringing in Nakladal and Di Giuseppe and forward Martin Frk, and shook up the lines in the third period to mixed results.
The Canes outshot the Oilers 27-24 at even strength, had four shots on their two power plays and two shorthanded shots. But Talbot had most of the answers.
Carolina’s road trip next takes the Canes to Calgary for a Thursday game against the Flames, with goalie Eddie Lack likely to be in net for Carolina.
“You don’t want to start a losing streak and you’ve got to put an end to it,” Peters said. “You’ve got to put the breaks on that and that’s what we have to do Thursday in Calgary.”
Hurricanes at Flames
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Saddledome, Calgary