RALEIGH — The night before Halloween, the Carolina Hurricanes again encountered the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of their special teams.
The visiting Bruins and Hurricanes exchanged power play goals through the first two periods, but it was Brad Marchand’s even-strength goal, his second of the night, five minutes into the third proved to be the difference in Boston’s 3-2 win Tuesday in front 11,357 at PNC Arena.
Marchand rushed up the left wing and fended off Hurricanes captain Justin Williams, faked a shot and wheeled around the net for a wraparound goal on Scott Darling for the game’s only even-strength goal.
But it was Boston’s previous goal that tied the game late in the second period that Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour considered the difference.
Sixty-nine seconds after Dougie Hamilton’s power play goal, his second since coming to Carolina, pushed the Hurricanes ahead by one, a bad line change cost them.
Shorthanded after Lucas Wallmark saved a likely goal by committing a tripping penalty, fellow Hurricanes rookie Warren Foegele made a rush up ice shorthanded. With Patrice Bergeron taking chase, the home team changed lines, leaving Marchand alone at the far boards at the Carolina blue line.
“We took a breath,” Brind’Amour said, “and you’ve got to give Bergeron a lot of credit. … He came back, saved a goal and then zipped it up and they get a goal. We’ve got to learn that you can’t take a breath on the ice, and that’s what happened.
“To me, that cost us the game. Because if we’re up 2-1 going into the (third), I think we’re in better shape.”
Bergeron’s shot from left wing beat Darling (28 saves), playing his first game of the season, to tie the score with just 18 seconds left in second period.
Then Marchand struck again, this time with his solo effort.
“Just Marchand made a world-class play — and that’s what those kind of players do — to get the game winner,” Brind’Amour said.
Carolina again outshot its opponent, finishing with a 44-31 edge, but the Hurricanes could not find a way to score at 5-on-5.
“We’re shooting a lot — maybe we have to make an extra pass or something to beat these goalies,” Hamilton said. “But we had some chances and some breakaways and stuff like that; a post. That’s just the way it goes.”
Brind’Amour didn’t rule out making changes to the lines, which have been mostly unchanged throughout the season’s first 12 games, but he also doesn’t believe the combinations have run their course.
“You usually change lines to create the chances, to create the offense because you’re going stale,” Brind’Amour said. “And I know we’re not scoring, but I don’t see it as an offensive drought as far as creating opportunities.”
The team’s penalty kill, which Brind’Amour said he felt played well, allowed two goals, has given up 14 overall so far, and sits at an NHL-worst 66.7 percent.
One area that has improved is the power play, which came into the game ranked 30th in the league with just four goals but scored twice on Jaroslav Halak (42 saves).
It took just eight seconds for Carolina to get the first one.
With Jeremy Lauzon in the box, a Sebastian Aho shot led to a scramble in front of the Bruins net, and Micheal Ferland knocked in the loose puck to make it 1-0 at 17:54 of the first. It was Ferland’s seventh goal of the year and the 100th point of his career, and the assist gave Aho points in all 12 games to start the season, setting a new franchise mark.
“I’d rather have the win,” Aho responded when asked about his record-setting start that tied him with Wayne Gretzky and Ken Linseman for the longest assist streak to start a season.
After David Pastrnak got his 11th goal with a shot from the goal line that snuck under Darling’s right arm to tie the game at 12:22 of the second, Hamilton answered at 18:33.
Jordan Staal cleanly won the faceoff right to the former Bruins first-round pick, who blasted a one-timer stick side past Halak to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
But that was all the offense the Hurricanes would muster.
“Those were the big goals for us, and we’ve been working on PP and it’s good to get some goals out of it,” Aho said. “But it feels nothing when you lose. We need to score one more.”
Notes: Overall, it was neither a triumphant nor disastrous return to the net for Darling, who was making his first start of the season after an injury in the preseason finale kept him from making his anticipated 2018-19 debut until Game 12. … Staal’s line with Williams and Foegele combined for 11 shots on goal but stretched its goal drought to seven games. … Jaccob Slavin took his first penalty of the season. In his first three seasons, he had 8, 12 and 10 PIMs, respectively. … Williams and Trevor van Riemsdyk tied led Carolina with six shots on goal.