Five takeaways from the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Friday at PNC Arena.
-- Thw Canes’ locker room was a pretty sullen place Friday, which was understandable.
In the NHL, playoff-caliber teams don’t get beat by goalies having mediocre seasons. They don’t get shut out. They certainly don’t get shut out at home, not with a playoff position at stake.
If the Carolina Hurricanes fail to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for a ninth straight season, they’ll look at several games and moments in games that could have gone their way or made a difference. One will be the February night when they were in playoff position and were shut down 3-0 by Thomas Greiss of the New York Islanders.
The Canes took 45 shots at Greiss, who had given up 19 goals in his last four starts and had the worst goals-against average, 4.03, of any NHL goalie with 12 or more appearances this season. Add in 27 attempts that were blocked and another 20 that missed the net and that’s 92 attempts to score by Carolina, all for naught.
“He played a great game but at the same time we had to get more bodies to the front of the net,” Canes center Derek Ryan said. “We had some opportunities for rebounds. I thought the puck was bouncing off him a little bit and laying there in the crease and blue paint. I think we can have more desperation in getting to the front of the net.”
-- Jeff Skinner had No. 200. Then he didn’t.
Skinner’s skate was just off the blue line — “An inch, maybe,” he said — and the winger was ruled offside in the third period on a sequence that ended with Skinner knocking the puck past Greiss for what would have been his 200th career goal and a 1-1 tie.
Isles coach Doug Weight immediately challenged it and after the review, the ruling, correctly, was no goal.
But Skinner got the scoring chance because Justin Williams carried the puck into the low slot. Skinner took it from there, getting position for the shot. The Canes needed a lot more of that want-to.
“It’s that time of year, right?” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “That’s the time of the year it is and the whistles get put away a little bit, and we know that. It’s not going to change going forward.”
-- There’s no use in trying to downplay Sunday’s game against New Jersey at PNC Arena. The Canes, after two Metropolitan Division losses, after being shut out, face a gut-check game against the Devils.
“They’re all big, especially against these divisional opponents,” Ryan said. “Good teams this time of year don’t lose two games in a row and we just did that, so we’ve got to make sure we bounce back and put together a little win streak here.”
After New Jersey, thanks to the NHL’s puzzling scheduling, the Canes do not play again until Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Obviously it’s a must-win on Sunday,” defenseman Brett Pesce said.
-- Two power plays, 10 shots, no goals. That hurt the Canes in a tight game.
Carolina had 17 power-play goals in the 20 games before Friday, tying for the league high over that 20-game span. They needed one Friday and couldn’t get one against a team that was 30th in the league in penalty killing.
“Give them credit,” Peters said “They blocked a lot of shots. When we did get it through Greiss was there.”
-- One touching moment Friday came before the game.
The Canes select a youth hockey player each home game to be an honorary starter, allowing the player to skate out and be with the Canes on the ice for the playing of the national anthem or anthems.
Nolan Ward was that player Friday. That’s goalie Cam Ward’s 7-year-old son. Rather than join the Canes’ skaters who were in the starting lineup, the usual pregame routine, he skated over to the net and stood by his Dad, who gave his son a fist bump with his glove.