One day after dropping a barely-conested 7-0 decision to the Bruins in Boston, the Hurricanes put forth a greatly improved effort but still lost 3-2 in Tuesday’s rematch at the RBC Center. Carolina took a season-high 45 shots and had 28 more blocked, leaving Paul Maurice as satisfied as a coach can be after coming up short.
“I don’t think there’s anything left in that room,” he said. “I thought they played as hard as they possibly could.”
The Canes did manage to sneak two past goaltender Tim Thomas, who was coming off a 31-save shutout Monday, as Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose scored on near-identical plays in the first and third periods, respectively. In each instance, a rebound attempt from in close ended up sliding right over for a Hurricane to bang it home.
LaRose’s goal tied the game at 2-2 after the Bruins’ Brad Marchand had given the visitors the lead immediately following an offensive-zone faceoff, but Boston would take the lead for good when LaRose went to the box for an elbowing penalty on Zdeno Chara.
The penalty seemed dubious at first, raising questions as to how the 5-foot-10 LaRose could possibly elbow the 6-6 Chara. However, replays showed LaRose’s stick hitting the towering defenseman in the nose – a play that could have been called a double-minor as Chara skated away bloodied.
“(LaRose) had himself so wound up and wanted to win so bad that he was going to try and find the biggest player in the league and see if he could run him through the end wall,” said Maurice. “Does he have to keep his stick down and not take that penalty? Absolutely. The other option is for him to float out there and not finish a check. We’ll take the effort first, then we’ll try and point it in the right direction next time.”
At peace with the call, the Hurricanes were instead left shaking their heads at the winning goal – Lucic was left wide open in front of Cam Ward, who rebounded nicely from Monday’s abbreviated outing with several nice stops in a 25-save performance – and their inability to solve Thomas.
“I thought we worked extremely hard,” said Eric Staal, who saw what looked like surefire goals blocked by Thomas and his defenseman time after time, not to mention a hit post by linemate Sergei Samsonov. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but our compete level was there. We were all over them in the second period and couldn’t find a way to get the puck to the back of the net.”
“I’m happy how we played tonight, but we didn’t get any points out of it,” said Jokinen, who now has 5 goals in his last 5 games. “If we keep playing like that for the rest of the year, I think we’ll be fine.”
Maurice and the Hurricanes left the game pleased with their response from Monday’s game, especially with the way Tuesday’s contest began. Jokinen was whistled for a tripping penalty just 17 seconds into the first period, which the Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk converted on with just 13 left on the man advantage.
While that early adversity seemed to be the last thing the Hurricanes needed, they would respond with 19 shots in each of the first two periods, matching their season high.
“I thought we were tense in the first 10 minutes and nervous,” said Maurice. “When you give up seven goals, your defense is going to be a little nervous. Then I thought we got 'er going.”
The Canes would cancel out Boychuk's opener when Joe Corvo’s rebound fell to Staal, whose attempt to knock it home instead slid over to Jokinen, who had good position in the crease after a battle with the Bruins’ Adam McQuaid.
“It was a more physical team that we played and we were more physical than them,” said Maurice, whose team won the hit battle by a staggering 43-19 margin. “We scored the tying goal right in the dirt and the mud, the way we scored our first goal. Through two pucks we shot the puck, and that’s our identity and that’s our game.”
The Hurricanes will now have an off day Wednesday before continuing their busy January schedule against the New York Rangers the following day at home.
“Obviously we didn’t like our game in Boston yesterday and tonight for the most part we were competing extremely hard and winning all the battles,” said Staal. “We created a ton of chances, a lot of offense, a lot of shots and didn’t get the result we wanted. We can’t get discouraged.”
NOTES: With his 521st game in a Hurricanes uniform, Erik Cole passed Sami Kapanen for eighth on the franchise’s all-time list … Cole needs four penalty minutes (372) to tie Jeff O’Neill for the Hurricanes all-time lead … Carolina has won just two of the last 12 regular-season meetings with Boston (2-9-1) … LaRose’s goal marked the first time the Hurricanes had scored at even strength in the three-game season series. They had four power-play goals prior to that.