Hurricanes’ offense dries up in 2-1 loss to Stars

Carolina dropped both games of the season series against Dallas

Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook watches the puck near Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger and Esa Lindell during Dallas’ 2-1 win Saturday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes saw their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to the visiting Stars on Saturday at PNC Arena.

Sebastian Aho had the lone goal for Carolina, while Jason Robertson and Wyatt Johnston scored for Dallas.

Three observations

1. There have been plenty of games against top-notch opponents this season that left me salivating at the idea of a playoff series. Hurricanes-Stars is not among them.

Nothing against Dallas, which plays a very tight game and is very good at holding onto a one-goal lead, but there isn’t a lot of excitement when the two teams meet.

“It was tight. Not a lot of room,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “It was two good teams, high-caliber teams who play the game the right way, and we were just going at it.”

The Stars got the win by capitalizing on the Hurricanes’ miscues, turning them into the two goals they needed for the win.

“We made a couple of mistakes and it’s in the back of your net,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “You can’t make those, and that’s kind of the game. Trying to come back in this league is tricky, and they played a good game.”

2. The Hurricanes’ penalty kill was suffocating all night, and it needed to be given that Dallas had a questionable 4-2 edge in power plays. The Stars managed just two shots with the man advantage, and Carolina is 37 for 41 (90.2%) on the kill in the last 13 games.

“The penalty kill’s continuing to play well, and (Pyotr Kochetkov, who made 14 saves) is a big part of that too,” Slavin said.

3. The power play, however, couldn’t muster a goal on two opportunities.

Carolina finally got its second chance just before the midway point of the third period while trailing by a goal, but the team’s top unit — which stayed out for the entire two minutes — wasn’t able to generate much beyond zone time. The Hurricanes had just two shots on goal on the power play.

“Our power play wasn’t great tonight,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “But maybe we get another one or take one off their board, maybe a little momentum change. But hopefully that stuff evens out, although it’s been a little bit strange here the last 10 games of how that’s been going.”

Starting with their 1-0 over the Devils on Whalers Night, Carolina is 2 for 12 (16.7%) on the power play in the last seven games — with just 1.71 power play opportunities per game.

Number to know

37 — Total shots on goal in the game, the fewest in a Hurricanes game this season. Carolina finished with 21 shots on goal, while Dallas had 16. The previous low was 38 in Tampa Bay’s 8-2 win on Nov. 24 when the Hurricanes outshot the Lightning 24-14. Saturday was the seventh time this season the Hurricanes have allowed 16 or fewer shots on goal (4-2-1 in those games) and the 11th time they’ve given up under 20 (6-4-1).


Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes center — Aho was in a bit of scoring funk but has snapped out of it of late. Unfortunately for Carolina, it seems he’s the only one who can score right now. Aho has the Hurricanes’ equalizing goal in the second period, splitting two Dallas defenders off a pass from Jesper Fast and scoring past Jake Oettinger (20 saves).

Aho has three of Carolina’s last five goals dating back to the midway point of Monday’s 5-3 win over the Blackhawks, and someone other than him hasn’t scored at 5-on-5 since Jesperi Kotkaniemi did a couple of minutes before Aho got his 20th of the season in that game against Chicago.


Jesperi Kotaniemi, Hurricanes center — Kotkaniemi had seemed to turn a corner with points in consecutive games, but his decision to pass while alone in the slot with Carolina down one in the second period was beyond a head-scratcher. If Teuvo Teravainen is going to be playing on his wing as a way to get him going, then Kotkaniemi needs to be a shooter.

“Everybody understands,” Brind’Amour said when asked if anything needs to be said on the bench after a scoring opportunity is passed up. “It happens quick out there. (Kotkaniemi’s) trying to slide it over for a one-timer, the other guy made a nice play. So it is what it is.”

When asked if the team has been too pass-happy of late, Slavin was blunt.

“Yeah, I think we need to shoot more,” he said.

They said it

“Well, we’re getting a lot of practice, I guess.”

— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on the team’s penalty killing, along with a subtle jab at the penalty disparity in recent games.