Flying to the Great White North for the first time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes lost their third preseason game by a score of 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Wednesday.
The Hurricanes led the game 1-0 on a Tim Brent goal set up by Jiri Tlusty and Tomas Kaberle, and after two periods and midway through the third, they looked to have the game under control.
However, a pivotal double-minor high-sticking call on Jamie McBain with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period took the Hurricanes off the man-advantage and subsequently diminished the momentum that the team was riding on up until that point in the game.
Winnipeg’s Evander Kane connected on a pass in the low slot from Patrice Cormier to tie the game at 1-1 halfway through the four-minute power play opportunity.
The play originated on a breakout pass from Zach Bogosian, who also assisted on the play, during a line change that gave Cormier time and space to gain the blue line into the Hurricanes zone.
Just under two minutes later, the Jets’ Blake Wheeler put a wrist shot past Hurricanes goaltender Brian Boucher to take the lead 2-1.
Winnipeg then added an empty-netter with less than a minute to play and completed the 3-1 victory over the Hurricanes in front of their home crowd.
Not too concerned
Not expressing much concern regarding another loss in the preseason, head coach Paul Maurice gave the perspective that the game was an important developmental one for many of the younger players still trying to make an impression upon the coaching staff during the latter part of training camp.
“It was a great atmosphere for us,” Maurice said. “In some ways you don’t like the final result, but what you want to do is put these players in an NHL atmosphere and that is difficult to do in the exhibition season. It was a regular season-feeling game and it does change the way some guys play.”
Maurice followed up to point out how impressed he was with the play of goaltender Brian Boucher and forwards Jiri Tlusty and Tim Brent.
According to Maurice, the team’s play at this point in the preseason and during training camp leaving Winnipeg was what he and his staff expected.
Boucher stands tall
Goaltender Brian Boucher played a solid game facing 38 shots in the losing effort.
“They kept coming hard,” Boucher said. “I thought they made two pretty nice plays, you know, for their two goals. They drove the net hard and sometimes it’s tough for a goaltender to come up with those when guys are driving the net like that.”
Without getting much support on the offensive end during the second and third periods as Carolina was outshot 26-8 and 0-5 on the power play, Boucher’s performance showed that he will be capable of stopping pucks and adding wins to the team’s record, if he has consistent defensive support in front of him.
It’s crowded back there
With the recently developed competition for spots on the defense, rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy, the team’s first overall draft pick in 2011, did not dress against Winnipeg which made room for Derek Joslin to be inserted into the lineup.
With Murphy out, defensive partner Justin Faulk dressed and played considerable minutes in the game including time on both the power play and penalty kill.
Even with the future looking bright on the blue line with young players like Murphy and Faulk in the system, losing three games in the third period, albeit during the preseason, doesn’t mean that the status quo must be followed in the defensive end of the rink, particularly when your goaltender is facing more than 35 shots in a game.
More has to be done to put a fresh outlook on the defense and missing the playoffs in four out of the last five seasons calls for what many may consider a gamble in decision-making regarding who stays and who doesn’t.
It’s now time to roll the dice in Raleigh.
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