The superlatives so far this season for the Carolina Hurricanes are bordering on jaw-dropping.
Heading into their road clash with the San Jose Sharks on Monday, the Hurricanes are riding a four-game winning streak — including all three dates to start a six-game road swing — and boast a 14-2-0 record for a league-best .875 points percentage.
However, the Hurricanes are well aware their performance in Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings was well below their expectations. Four times they took a lead before watching it disappear in the wild, back-and-forth first two periods, and it took an outstanding third-period performance by goaltender Frederik Andersen to seal the victory.
“The start, I thought was OK,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said of his team’s performance. “Really, at the end of the day, that was just a bad game for us. Like, really bad. Give the other team a lot of credit, they played hard and the way they wanted to play, and we didn’t. We just never got going. We’re fortunate to come away with that one.”
Carolina, which is tied as the league’s top squad in goals against per game, was outshot 20-2 in the third period against the Kings, yet Andersen couldn’t be beat. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they’re also a top-five team in scoring.
“It’s always a good thing when you can win and, at the same time, know that you can play a lot better,” said forward Sebastian Aho, who collected one goal and one assist. “We try to learn from our mistakes. We got two points and that’s the main thing here. We know we have to play a lot better. We have to be more careful.”
The Sharks are riding a different wave these days. After a surprisingly strong start to the season with six wins in their first nine games, the Sharks are free falling. A 4-0 home defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Saturday has San Jose with four losses in five games, and with only two victories in their last eight clashes.
The offensive touch has dried up for the Sharks, who have only eight goals in their last five outings, half of which came in the lone victory in that stretch.
Even though goaltender Adin Hill only stopped 17 shots against the Capitals, coach Bob Boughner was quick to change any focus on him over to the skaters.
“You can’t blame goaltending when you don’t score goals. It’s pretty simple,” Boughner said. “We played a pretty hard game and we just couldn’t get that bounce. It’s tough when you’re not scoring goals.”
It doesn’t help that San Jose’s power play has become ice cold. The Sharks have just one power-play goal in their last six games. Granted, twice in that span they failed to even receive a single man-advantage situation, but they aren’t converting when it matters. They failed to score on four opportunities against the Capitals.
“It goes hand in hand with playing better,” forward Logan Couture said of the lack of power-play chances (11 in the past six). “When you play well and you control the play, you’re going to draw more penalties.”
Making the Washington loss even worse, forward Jonathan Dahlen was injured in the first period with an apparent shoulder issue and will miss the game. However, forward Kevin Labanc will return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a slew-foot infraction during Thursday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues.
–Field Level Media