The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been in this situation often in the opening weeks of the season.
They’re trying to shake off a rough period that cost them a game.
In order to recover, the Hurricanes must conquer the visiting St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes have won 10 of their first 12 games for the best start in franchise history. But they failed to protect a 1-0 lead Friday night, losing at home to the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than what we showed in the third period,” Carolina center Steven Lorentz said. “You could tell after that first couple of minutes of the third period we were back on our heels, and that’s not how we play.”
Sure enough, a 28-13 edge on shots through two periods didn’t produce enough on the scoreboard for the Hurricanes.
“I think we got a little complacent,” Carolina center Vincent Trocheck said. “We got a little too cute and made a few too many turnovers in the neutral zone and our own end.”
That seemed unusual for a team that had excelled at nearly every turn this season.
“It’s just frustrating that we got off our game,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Carolina is 5-1-0 in home games. Saturday night’s game will be its last on home ice for more than two weeks.
And there’s a decision to make for Brind’Amour. Frederik Andersen has been one of the top goalies in the league this season, but the Hurricanes would rather not use him on back-to-back nights.
The backup goalie is Alex Lyon, who hasn’t played an NHL game this season. He has 22 career NHL games as his background.
“We have a great team coming in who’s sitting there waiting,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge. We’ll turn the page.”
The Blues have alternated wins and losses in their past eight games. If that trend continues, that means they’ll win Saturday.
But cranking up a consistent offense would be preferred for the Blues. They’ve scored more than three goals just once over their past eight games.
When the Blues tighten up in the defensive end, good things tend to happen.
“If we keep that going for the full 60, I think we have a real good chance of winning every night,” Blues center Robert Thomas said.
But the Blues didn’t protect a 2-0 lead in Thursday night’s overtime loss to Nashville. It seems to be a matter of maintaining aggressiveness.
“We want to be quick,” center Jordan Kyrou said.
St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly has been back for three games since missing time because of COVID-related protocols. He doesn’t have a point in those outings, but he has averaged 18:57 of ice time per game during the past week.
“Being out 10 days with COVID, and the energy levels,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “He has played lots of hockey right away and hard minutes. I think it’s one of those things. He’ll get his energy soon.”
This game will mark a return to Raleigh for former Hurricanes All-Star Justin Faulk, a defenseman for St. Louis. He’s a former team Most Valuable Player with Carolina.
This will be the last game during a stretch of five road outings in six games for St. Louis.
–Field Level Media