RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes had what coach Rod Brind’Amour called “one of our better games all year.”
It didn’t matter, at least not on the scoreboard
Chris Kreider broke a scoreless tie with under five minutes left in the second period and the Hurricanes couldn’t get any of their 44 shots past Rangers backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev in a 2-0 loss Sunday In front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena.
The loss pushed Carolina’s winless streak to a season-long four games.
“I know you guys are gonna write four losses in a row,” Brind’Amour said after the loss. “Go ahead. But three of those four games I would take all day long.”
The slump — both in the win-loss column and on the scoresheet — also comes as the NHL’s trade deadline looms. Many of the Eastern Conference’s other top contenders — the Panthers, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Bruins and Rangers — have already made moves to bolster their lineup. New York’s lone addition so far, Frank Vatrano, sealed the game with an empty-net goal with 42 seconds remaining.
Carolina’s inability to score (18 goals in the last nine games) has many wondering if the team will look for reinforcements before Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline. The players seem to believe the team has enough firepower.
“Yes,” Sebastian Aho curtly answered when asked if the answers to Carolina’s scoring woes are already in the room.
Captain Jordan Staal agreed, though with more detail.
“Yeah, I would say so,” he said. “Can’t say I’ve been on a team that hasn’t gone through dry spells throughout a season. We’ve had a few games where we’ve really controlled and outshot teams. The goals will come.”
The only one that came against a goalie for either team Sunday was Kreider’s 41st of the season, a redirection of a Jacob Trouba shot that got past Frederik Andersen (16 saves) at 15:39 of the second period.
It was also one of the few chances the Rangers had all night. On top of the shot disparity, the high-danger scoring chances favored the Hurricanes 17-6 at 5-on-5, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. Carolina finished with 94 total shot attempts to New York’s 36.
But Georgiev — who himself has been the subject of trade rumors since starter Igor Shesterkin is the runaway favorite for the Vezina Trophy — became the latest goalie to stymie the Hurricanes’ attack, becoming the fourth different goalie in Rangers’ history to have a 40-save shutout win.
“Their goalie played great, that’s the end of story,” Brind’Amour said. “I don’t know what else we could’ve done other than put pucks in the net. Everything we wanted to do, for the most part, we did. Just didn’t get rewarded tonight.”
The Hurricanes hit the post at least twice — once by Vincent Trocheck and later by Martin Necas — and several attempts seemed to slide just inches wide of the net.
“It’s been kind of the story lately for our team. I like the effort. We battled hard — so many chances. We know and we believe it’s going to turn our way and we’re going to get the bounces. But yep, we’ve gotta be better on those chances.”
Notes: Necas had 13 shot attempts, including six on net, but misfired on a handful of scoring chances. … Carolina’s power play went 0 for 3. … Tony DeAngelo returned to the lineup and played 17:38 against his old team, finishing with two shots on goal and seven attempts. … The Hurricanes played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen because of the return of DeAngelo and the absence of Jordan Martinook (injury) and Nino Niederreiter (one-game suspension). … Aho played a team-high 20:35.