Hurricanes Show Promise Despite Shootout Loss

NEW YORK — The Carolina Hurricanes were always expected to be towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings this season.  Add in injuries to Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner and Andrej Sejera and, well…it’s not going to be pretty.  And to be sure, their 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night was more evidence of that, but it isn’t all negative.

Although they’re still looking for their first win on the young season, Carolina played its most complete game yet, and received an excellent performance between the pipes by Anton Khudobin, who has outplayed Cam Ward early on.

“Dobie kept us in the hockey game, for sure,” said defenseman Jay Harrison.  “He took away a lot of chances for them, and gave us an opportunity to win, which is what we need right now.  With how dilapidated our lineup is right now — we’re running short on bodies — we need our goalies to be pillars back there for us.  And they’ve been that way so far, giving us a chance to win in the last couple games for sure.”

There is, as Harrison pointed out, not a lot in front of Khudobin these days.  But even with Nathan Gerbe having left last night’s game to due a lower body injury — he was walking with a pronounced limp after the game — the Hurricanes aren’t looking to make excuses.

“It’s a tough situation,” Khudobin said.  “We have a lot of guys injured…it’s tough for us, and it’s tough losses for us, but we can’t blame that.  We have to figure out what we need to do without them and play.  You have to still play while you’re waiting for the other guys.”

Against a Rangers team that was hungry after two blowout losses, Carolina did just that.  Defenseman Ryan Murphy and forward Brad Malone had particularly strong showings, leaving the Hurricanes thinking that their first claim of two points on the year wasn’t far away.

“I think we played a pretty strong 60-minute game,” Harrison said.  “We showed some resiliency there, and held onto it.  We kept pucks deep, we cycled the puck, we generated some offense and we played really tight defensively away from the puck as well.  That’s two games in a row we put back-to-back efforts together, and we’re probably going to look back at some positive things about that and not the result.  We’ll take the things that we did really well and move forward.”

Added head coach Bill Peters: “The effort was good.  These guys work, these guys compete.  You can’t question that.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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