RALEIGH, N.C. — It took over 36 minutes for either the Hurricanes or the Blue Jackets to score a goal. And it took Columbus less than three minutes combined to answer both of Carolina’s.
When the Hurricanes were the first team to scratch late in the second, it seemed like they had all the momentum.
But they’ve seen that movie before this season, and this time, they fell 3-2 in overtime as the Jackets scored a power-play goal at 2:40 of the extra session. With the loss, Carolina fell to 6-11 since the Olympic break.
"I think it’s past frustrating now. We seem to just find ways to lose," captain Eric Staal said. "Whether it be a bounce, whether it be a quick breakdown or whether it be a battle, it just seems like the chance we have doesn’t seem to want to fall and the chance that goes the other way goes in and it’s difficult.
"But like I said, tonight was close. It was a tight game, two teams playing hard and we were just unfortunately on the wrong side of the result that we need."
Ultimately, it no longer matters that the Hurricanes played well or competed hard or did things the right way — although, according to head coach Kirk Muller, they did all those things.
"I thought we played really well. It was a playoff-style game, not much space out there. We got key goals at the right time and we just unfortunately, three mistakes that we made cost us. Yet, we didn’t really make hardly any tonight," Muller said. "It’s tough."
The playoffs seemed unlikely entering the game, and they’re all but out of the question now. Even if head coach Kirk Muller didn’t think so.
"We don’t think we’re out yet. We picked up a point, we’re still mathematically, it’s there," Muller said. "So we’re going to push. We’re going to push and we’re going to be ready for Ottawa and we’re going to have the same approach — go out and win some hockey games."
The frustrated, emotionally drained faces in the locker room suggested something different, though that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for, though. Pride is still there, certainly, among other reasons.
"It’s got to be the pride in the room and guys just being accountable to play as hard as they can. We did have some effort out there for sure but still, you can do more, including myself and we can find a way to win those games," Jordan Staal said. "It seems like it’s been like that kind of throughout the year — just the little extra that we need to win games and we’re finding ways to lose."
Last week, veteran Jay Harrison had some pointed comments after a slow start by the team led to a quick 4-0 deficit, and encouraged everyone in that locker room to take responsibility and ownership for it.
The Hurricanes won their next game, and then dropped this one in disappointing fashion. But how well they played no longer matters. Ownership and accountability do, though — and pride.
Jordan Staal was asked about Harrison’s comments after last week’s loss, and clearly he took them to heart.
"It’s definitely been some frustrating times for our team. For the most part our effort’s always been there throughout the year but that effort wasn’t there at the beginning of the game. We beat ourselves pretty easily there," Staal said.
"It’s kind of been the story of our team — we’re just finding ways to lose games. It’s the leadership in the room, myself and guys all throughout need to find ways to win games and play a tight-checking game."