3 Takeaways From Hurricanes’ 2-1 Overtime Loss To The Sharks

The Carolina Hurricanes continued their five-game western road trip with a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in what was their most disappointing game on the trip thus far. It was a forgettable night for the group as a whole — aside from Antti Raanta, who had a phenomenal game in a duel with the guy whose spot he took on the team’s roster this past summer.

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That duel — of course — was against James Reimer, and this was the team’s first time facing their former netminder since he departed and signed with the Sharks over the offseason. As to be expected, he was a standout player for his team — stopping 22 shots and continuing the trend of former Canes goalies posting heroic performances against the team. 

James Reimer Carolina Hurricanes
James Reimer, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Hurricanes were lucky to secure a point from this game, and it’s safe to say that head coach Rod Brind’Amour will not be satisfied with the effort. Without further ado, let’s dive into three storylines from this game before the team wraps up their west coast trip in Seattle on Wednesday night.

Seth Jarvis Sticking Around

Throughout the first seven games of the team’s season, Seth Jarvis was merely an observer — relegated to press box duty as the group had 12 capable forwards ahead of him who’d earned their roles. Many observers wondered what the Canes’ plan was for the player as he sat out for over two weeks. The concern was that a 19-year old player would obviously benefit from all the ice-time he could get – even if that meant re-assignment to the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Prospects don’t develop by not playing. However, an unfortunate injury to Nino Niederreiter opened the door for Jarvis — and he leaped through it.

In San Jose last night, he played in his 10th game of the season — which officially burns the first year of his entry-level contract. Therefore, unless something goes extremely wrong, he’ll be sticking with the Hurricanes for the rest of the season. I had my concerns (and still do) about his ability to hold up physically for an entire 82-game season of NHL hockey and into the playoffs — but those concerns have been alleviated for now. While he does get outmuscled at times, he does a great job of often avoiding contact, and his speed has been key to him getting separation.

Through his first 10 games, he’s scored four goals and added an assist. He’s also had two very questionably disallowed goals and has made it abundantly clear that his offensive talents are ready for this level of hockey. I really think that sitting in the press box at the beginning of the year and watching things like pace, physicality and how to exploit gaps has made a big impact on his so-far seamless transition into the NHL. He’s a very exciting young kid to watch and has earned his spot in Carolina’s lineup moving forward.

Impressive Showing By Antti Raanta 

With Frederik Andersen playing at a Vezina-caliber level early in the season, opportunity has been sparse for Raanta to make his claim in the crease. An injury sustained in a relief appearance against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 6 did not help things for him, and thus, he’d started only two of the team’s first 15 games of the season. Generally, when he’s been in the Canes’ net, he’s been really solid and made a case that he deserves more starts last night with a phenomenal performance.

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He didn’t face an absurd amount of volume (27 shots), but the Sharks had a lot of quality scoring chances. Raanta countered that with sharp movement and strong rebound control and made some very acrobatic stops as the game went on. He looked confident and dialed in throughout, and it’s fair to say that the Hurricanes have him to thank for managing to get a result out of what was a rather sloppy night for the group in front of him.

The Special Teams Battle

It was another forgettable night for the team’s top-10 ranked power-play unit, as they extended their goal drought on the man advantage to three games. But the disappointment went far beyond just their inability to convert. Both units just looked off as a whole, and the threat to score just wasn’t there. Passing was slow and generally sloppy, player movement was lackadaisical and predictable, and there was no sense of urgency. It was tough to watch.

On the flip side, their penalty kill continued their streak of four consecutive games without surrendering a goal — although they only took one minor penalty during the game. That penalty was a tripping call on Brett Pesce with just 22 seconds to go in regulation time, which gave the Sharks well over a minute on the PP in overtime. The unit pressed and limited any scoring chances against but could not clear the zone as Pesce came out of the box and conceded the winning goal to Alexander Barabanov just moments after the power play expired.

Brett Pesce Hurricanes
Brett Pesce, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While both the Hurricanes’ penalty kill and power play rank in the top-10 league-wide, there’s room for improvements in both areas. Their discipline has been suspect as of late, although only taking one penalty in this game was a positive step in the right direction. The power-play unit had a couple of opportunities to really swing the game’s momentum in the Hurricanes’ favor but looked flat throughout and could not capitalize. It’s a small thing to be nit-picky about for a team that’s 14-2-1, and all teams have off nights — you just don’t want to see it become a trend. You’ve got to break bad habits before they stick.

What’s Next?

The Hurricanes are set to wrap up their western road trip on Wednesday — with their first-ever visit (and match-up) to face the Kraken in Seattle. After that, they’ll travel cross-country to Philadelphia, where they’ll meet the Flyers for an afternoon game on Friday. That’ll conclude a six-game road trip for the team, which started back on Nov. 16. They’ve amassed seven out of eight points on their road trip thus far and will hope to continue their success in the final two games of the tour before heading home to Raleigh.