Coming into this game off two straight losses and no divisional wins to their name, many fans considered Carolina's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning a "must win." It's still too early to consider any game a must win, but the Canes would have done themselves a huge favor down the line by getting a win over Tampa Bay at home. It would have been a great way to lift some sprits before going on the road again for the next two games. This wasn't a must win, but it was a big game for the Hurricanes but you wouldn't know that judging by the score, as Carolina ended up losing 5-2 on the back of a terrible third period which rivals the Florida game as some of the worst hockey this team has played this season.
Carolina gave up the first goal yet again, but they managed to hang tough with the Lightning for a good portion of the game despite not being able to solve goaltender Mathieu Garon for the first 40 minutes. Down only 1-0 to begin the third period, the game was still in reach and the Canes could have easily found a way to get a point out of this game. Unfortunately, they came into the third period flat and let Tampa Bay walk all over them. The Lightning out-competed the Hurricanes, were able to easily maneuver around their defense and added on four goals for good measure.
The Hurricanes injury problems and lack of depth showed in a bad way tonight, but even with that there is no excuse for how bad they played in the third period tonight. The game was still within reach after 40 minutes but it looked like the Hurricanes thought the game was over before the third period even started. This kind of performance shouldn't be acceptable in any game but it's especially troubling when it happens against a divisional opponent who has already beaten you once this year. Again, the injury bug has hit this team hard right now with five players on the shelf in the span of a week, but that didn't stop them from staying competitive against Winnipeg on Thursday. Where was that in the third period tonight?
Usually this is where I'll say that the team needs to "forget about the loss and regroup," but I think a lot more work needs to be done here. You have to wonder if this is just one bad game or a sign of things to come? Hopefully it's the former.no comments