Anybody who doubts the importance of special teams in hockey didn’t watch the Carolina Hurricanes frustrating 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night.
The Canes had nine power play chances against the Blue Jackets including four chances with a 5-on-3 advantage, but failed to score a goal. In fact, their power play was a minus one as Columbus opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal by Samuel Pahlson just 4:44 into the contest. Carolina has scored on just three of its last 61 power play chances and if they miss the playoffs, clearly that will be a big reason why.
This was a painful loss for the Hurricanes who were facing a Blue Jackets team that is barely still in the Western Conference playoff race and had lost its last seven games (0-4-3).
It was the fourth straight loss for the Hurricanes who find themselves falling further behind in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Blue Jackets doubled their lead to 2-0 42 seconds into the second period on Derek MacKenzie’s first goal of the night. Strong goaltending by Steve Mason kept the Hurricanes off the board making 20 of his 29 saves in the first two periods.
Rookie sensation Jeff Skinner cut the Jackets lead to 2-1 when he took a good pass from Erik Cole and cut behind the Columbus defense before ending Mason’s shutout bid by beating him low to the glove side with 10:44 left in the third period.
The Canes put some pressure on the Columbus net in the third period but Mason made several big saves to preserve the one goal lead until MacKenzie put one in an empty net to make it 3-1 Jackets with 1:01 left in the game.
Tuomo Ruutu scored with 35 seconds left to pull Carolina back to within a goal, but time ran out before the Canes could get the equalizer.
Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice tried to keep his team’s spirits up. “It’s not Game 80,” Maurice said. “There’s still time on the clock. We feel the urgency, so everyone understands exactly where we’re at.”
The next two games will be critical for Carolina as they face two of the teams they are fighting with for a playoff berth. The Canes travel to Buffalo on Tuesday before hosting the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the
About the Author
Written by Brad Kurtzberg
Hockey writer for more than 10 years. Has been published on Fox Sports, MSG Network, Huffington Post and Inside Hockey. Wrote the book, "Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals, Hockey's Most Colorful Team" on the old California Golden Seals and is presently working on his second book.