RALEIGH — The 2017-18 Hurricanes are starting to look more and more like the versions before it. Some nights it’s a lack of scoring that dooms the team. On Sunday at PNC Arena, it was the failure to start on time and later put away a team that had played twice in two nights.
“It’s never fun losing when you’re up going into the third period,” Hurricanes co-captain Jordan Staal said following a 4-3 shootout loss to to the Ducks. “Good teams find ways to win those and we didn’t tonight.”
Right now, the Hurricanes (4-4-2) simply aren’t a good team.
Ryan Miller, playing his first game with Anaheim, stopped two breakaways in overtime, then all three attempts in the shootout, with Corey Perry’s goal on Carolina goalie Scott Darling (22 saves) proving to be the game-winner in the skills competition.
“We had some good looks in OT, obviously,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “It would’ve been nice to get one there, but obviously we didn’t.”
It looked like Carolina, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead late in the second, was going to close the game out without drama, especially after Darling made big saves on both Rickard Rackell and Perry with each shoulder in the third. But with 4:48 left, Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg took a slap shot from the top of the right circle that found its way under Darling to even it up 3-3.
Justin Faulk, who scored his first goal of the year in the second period to give Carolina the lead, beat Miller with less than two minutes left in regulation but hit the far post.
Two overtime breakaways — one by Sebastian Aho, who is still searching for his first goal of the year, and the second by Victor Rask that was started with a two-thirds-of-the-ice pass from Darling — were snuffed out by Miller (34 saves).
In the early going, the Hurricanes did not look like the team waiting on an opponent that had played the previous night.
The Ducks struck first midway through the first period. After a faceoff scrum, the puck wound up on Ondrej Kase’s stick at the top of the right circle. Kase twirled and fired a shot that beat Darling on the far side just inside the post to make it 1-0 at 10:48.
Anaheim added a second with less than three minutes left in the period when Derek Grant was left alone in front after a Carolina turnover and beat Darling to stretch the lead to 2-0.
“We had a team come in off a back to back, played last night at 7 o’clock — not even 24 hours — and we let them come in and kind of dictate the first period there,” Hurricanes co-captain Justin Faulk said. “They had two goals, got out to the early lead and we’re chasing.”
The Hurricanes power play got two chances in the opening frame — both courtesy of interference penalties on Ducks defenseman Josh Manson — and looked listless. But the second one at the end of the period paid dividends thanks to a good bounce.
Derek Ryan fired a shot from the right boards and it popped in the air. Jeff Skinner and Justin Williams were parked in front, and the puck bounced off a crashing Skinner for his seventh goal of the season with seven seconds left in the period to give Carolina life.
The Hurricanes — rejuvenated after scoring late in the first — used the long second period change to wear down the Ducks — who played Saturday night in Tampa Bay — and it paid off.
Carolina started forechecking the weary Ducks, and Elias Lindholm found Aho behind the net. He spun around the cage as if he was going to attempt a wraparound, but instead slid the puck to a charging Staal, who batted the puck in to tie the game at 13:33 of the second.
Carolina then seized the lead on Faulk’s first goal of the season. Teuvo Teravainen — who was a game-time decision after leaving Friday’s loss to St. Louis with an injury — forced an offensive zone turnover and the puck went right to Faulk at the blue line. He wound up for a slap shot and cleanly beat Miller to give Carolina its first lead with 1:27 left in the middle frame.
The Ducks came out in the third with nothing to lose, and eventually tied it on the Silfverberg goal, his first of the season.
“We were quicker in the second, and I thought we played good in the third up until the point where they scored and then they pushed,” Peters said. “But I thought our D got the puck off their stick much better in the second and the third and allowed us to play fast.”
Part of that improvement was a swap on the bottom two defense pairings, with rookie Haydn Fleury moving up with Faulk and Noah Hanifin sliding down to the third pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk.
“We had some guys that were minus-2 right off the hop, early in the game,” Peters said referring to Hanifin and Faulk being on the ice for Anaheim’s first-period goals. “And then another one off the crossbar with the same group of guys on the ice. So we could’ve been down dash-three in the first. So obviously we didn’t need to keep that together. So we changed the D up a little bit and got a little bit better as we went.”
While Staal, Faulk and Peters lamented the Hurricanes’ slow start — the coach pointed out four offsides calls on the Hurricanes that prevented rushes up ice — it was the inability to close out the game that ended up costing them.
“So when it’s 3-2 and under 10 minutes to go, I would change how we played a little bit,” Peters said. “You don’t need to make it four.”
“It’s a 3-2 league. … Three is enough to win,” he later added.
Notes: Ryan Getzlaf left the game early after getting hit up high with a puck. He did not return. … Janne Kuokkanen played his fourth NHL game, slotting in on the third line with Ryan and Skinner. Josh Jooris, along with Klas Dahlbeck, was a healthy scratch. … It was the second straight game Carolina was not called for a penalty. … Williams had two assists, pushing his team lead to seven though 10 games. … Skinner’s seven goals this month are the most he’s had in any October or November in his career. … Darling is now 3-3-2 with an .897 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average. The only month in his career when he’s had a lower save percentage was October 2015 when he had an .880 in three games.