Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- Leading 3-2, the Carolina Hurricanes were four minutes away from taking two points in a big divisional match-up with the Columbus Blue Jackets. About 90 seconds later, Columbus had a 4-3 lead, and they held on to win. “You can’t make mistakes late in the game that are going to cost you. We made two mistakes in the third. We’re sitting there with a few minutes left in the game, and they capitalize on two ‘A’ chances,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s a game of errors, and we made two. They made us pay for both of them.”
-- The Canes seemed to get better as the game progressed – until the final five minutes of the game, of course. The Jackets and Canes went back-and-forth in scoring through 40 minutes, and the Canes took the lead in the third period on a goal from Alexander Semin, his fourth of the season. A turnover and a bad line change later, and it’s 4-3 in favor of the visitors. “We’ve got to be better than that down the stretch. It’s a tough way to lose one,” forward Jeff Skinner said. “We just couldn’t hold onto the lead. That’s not good enough.”
-- Frustration was a word tossed around in the locker room after the game, and that certainly is a concise way to sum up the enormous shift in points – and what that means in the standings – that occurred in the final minutes of the game. Instead of growing their lead to four points over the Blue Jackets, the Canes drop to seventh place in the Metropolitan Division with 36 points (yet, still only two points out of a playoff spot). “It felt like we shot ourselves in the foot,” Eric Staal said. “This was a game we had to have. You can’t lose points in your own building when you’re up by one with 10 minutes left. It’s frustrating, and guys aren’t happy about it.”
-- Skinner continues to find the back of the net with regularity, as he notched two power-play goals in the first two periods. He now leads the team with 14 goals and five power-play goals; 10 of his 14 tallies have come in December alone, and tonight was his third multi-goal performance of the month. “He’s competing, he’s skating well and he’s going to the hard areas,” Muller said. “The line in general has been a good line with good contributions amongst the three of them. He’s really playing at a high tempo.”
-- The Canes’ penalty killing was the difference in a negative way on Friday when Washington left Raleigh with a 4-2 victory. Tonight, the kill kept the Hurricanes in the game, especially when they were called upon four times in the second period alone. “The PK was solid for us, especially in the second when they killed off four straight,” Skinner said.
-- Some random notes: Tonight marked the first time the Canes have scored multiple power-play goals (2) in one game. … Columbus has won each of the last six meetings between the two teams. Carolina’s last victory came on Dec. 15, 2005, a 2-1 decision in Raleigh. … Alexander Semin had a goal and an assist, his second multi-point game of the season and first since Oct. 19 on Long Island.
-- Unfortunately, the Canes will have to stew over this stinging loss for the next three days, as the league’s annual holiday break spells off days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Carolina will be back in action on Friday, as they host the division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins. “We’ll take a deep breath. That’s a real stunner right there. It was a huge game, we’ve got a break [coming up] and we’re 4-5 minutes away from walking away and picking up two huge points. We beat ourselves there,” Muller said. “We’ve got to just really swallow it right now. We’ll hurt for a few days. It’s a terrible time. But we’ll have to come back, charge up and pick up some of the points here that we lost out on.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets are heading into the Christmas break in good spirits.
Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille erased a 3-2 deficit with goals 1:28 apart late in the third period to lift the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Monday.
Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist, and Corey Tropp scored for the Blue Jackets (16-17-4). Mike McKenna stopped 30 of 33 shots.
Trailing late in the third, Johansen tied it for Columbus with his 15th goal of the season at 15:58, when he raced ahead of the Hurricanes defense and unleashed a wrister that beat Carolina goalie Justin Peters (21 saves) to make it 3-3.
Skille then put the Blue Jackets in front at 17:26. He took a gorgeous backhand feed from Anisimov and fired a wrister from the right circle past Peters for his second goal in the past four games.
Anisimov gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead 9:45 into the game. With the teams at even strength, Columbus forward Cam Atkinson won a race against Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk to a loose puck behind the net and quickly sent it out in front to Anisimov, who one-timed it from between the circles past Peters for his 10th goal of the season.
Carolina tied it on Skinner's power-play goal with 1:11 remaining in the first period. After Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski was whistled for tripping, Skinner collected the puck after Eric Staal won a faceoff deep in the Columbus zone and sent a wrist shot from the slot past McKenna to make it 1-1.
Carolina outshot Columbus 12-5 in the opening period.
Tropp put the Blue Jackets back in front at 15:39 of the second. Tropp, who hadn't scored in an NHL game since March 19, 2012 as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, swatted home a rebound after Peters denied Mark Letestu's wrist shot from the left circle.
Skinner scored his second power-play goal of the night 46 seconds later, three seconds after Wisniewski was given a delay of game penalty after dislodging the net that gave Carolina a two-man advantage for 1:35. Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson had been giving a holding penalty at 15:56.
With the teams skating 5-on-3, Jordan Staal won a faceoff in the Columbus end back to Semin, who found Skinner alone in the slot. He took Semin's feed and fired a wrister past McKenna to make it 2-2 for his 14th of the season.
Semin gave Carolina its first lead at 9:06 of the third period, when he completed a 2-on-1 with Jordan Staal by ripping a pass past McKenna for his fourth goal of the season. Semin had played 14 games without a goal, dating to Oct. 24.