Necas Shoots

Hurricanes center Martin Necas shoots versus the Capitals on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2020 at PNC Arena. Necas had one assist and tallied one point on a single shot in tthe 4-3 loss.

A short-handed Carolina Hurricanes squad could not complete its sweep of western Canada, falling 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Center Sebastian Aho was a late scratch due to illness, ending his streak of 265 consecutive appearances for the Canes (19-7-1). Defensemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo were also missing against the Canucks (12-15-2) due to COVID-19 protocol while left wing Jordan Martinook is still nursing a lower-body injury he suffered against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 2.

The Hurricanes struggled to find quality chances in the first two periods, largely thanks to a tenacious Vancouver defense. The Canucks blocked a whopping 24 shots over the course of the game. When the Canes’ shots did make it past the defense, Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko made 28 saves to keep victory just out of Carolina’s reach.

Despite the loss, the Canes got a quality performance from their own netminder, Antti Raanta. Both of the Canucks’ goals resulted from the Hurricanes losing control of the puck in their own zone, leaving Raanta more or less hung out to dry, but he made several impressive saves in the third period to keep his team in the game.

“He was stellar again,” said center Seth Jarvis. “Seems like a broken record, we really relied on our goalies. He did all he could for us and we just needed to find the back of the net.”

The Canes’ lone goal came from center Martin Nečas early in the third period. A quick 2-on-1 rush with him and Jarvis finally put Carolina on the scoreboard with 17:28 to try and pull even with the Canucks.

It ended up a “close but no cigar” result for the Canes, who looked understanbly sluggish considering this was their fourth road game in six days. Combined with the absence of key players like Aho and DeAngelo, Vancouver was simply the better team on this particular night.

“The effort’s always there with this group, that's never the issue,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “I think we made it a little harder on ourselves than we needed to tonight. [There were] kind of some weird plays that we don't normally make and led to a couple of their goals.”

The Canes round out their road trip in Minnesota to take on the Wild on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.