RALEIGH — Following a listless effort against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, the Hurricanes needed a bounce-back effort against the Sharks on Super Bowl Sunday.
They didn’t get it.
Carolina had few answers for San Jose, losing 3-1 in front of 11,614 at PNC Arena.
“I was really disappointed in our compete today,” an angry and despondent Bill Peters said after his team’s loss. “Just … disappointing effort, disappointing preparation, disappointing effort, and we got what we deserved.”
The loss dropped Carolina to 2-2 on its season-long eight-game home stand — the Hurricanes had won the first two — and the team remained on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Peters promised changes to the lineup for Tuesday’s home matchup with Philadelphia, the team that holds the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 57 points — one ahead of Carolina.
“I can’t put that group out there again after that. It’s not acceptable,” he said, saying that any of Sunday’s three healthy scratches or players from AHL Charlotte could be inserted into Tuesday’s lineup. “They let each other down, too, in the room. That’s not right.”
The Sharks took it to the Hurricanes from the get-go in the early afternoon affair and cashed in just 4:06 to the game.
With Carolina scrambling in its own end, San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi found Timo Meier alone between the hashmarks for a quick strike that made it 1-0.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed in the first, the Hurricanes found life when Jordan Staal forced a turnover and fed Sebastian Aho for his 19th goal of the season with 2:02 left in the first. San Jose, however, reclaimed the lead when, for the second time in the period, a Sharks player was left all alone in front of Cam Ward.
Ward, who earlier stopped Joel Ward in such a situation, couldn’t bail out the Hurricanes again when Chris Tierney found himself with puck right in front of the net. Tierney quickly shot and beat Ward to make it 2-1 with 36 seconds left in the opening period.
Then just two minutes into the second period, Brent Burns took a slap shot from near the Sharks bench door that found its way through screens by Barclay Goodrow and Brett Pesce and in for a two-goal lead.
From there, the Hurricanes did little to fight there way back into the game — a result that had the coach and the team’ two captains searching for answers.
“The opportunity’s right there for us to get into the playoffs and be somewhere where we haven’t been in this organization in a long time,” co-captain Justin Faulk said. “We’ve gotta be more prepared individually and as a group to be ready to get to the grind and get ourselves in the playoffs.”
The team’s other co-captain, Staal, echoed Faulk’s sentiments.
“I don’t know if it’s the pressure or not, but at some point something’s got to give here in Carolina,” he said. “We’ve gotta stick with the positives and stick with the game we know how to play and we’ve been doing for a few months before and right through this month. And just continue to work.”
Chances are, they’ll be working with a couple different players.
“And I hope they bring some energy, some passion and some pride,” Peters said. “Because that group today, that wasn’t good enough.”