RALEIGH — It’s been a whirlwind 72 hours for the Carolina Hurricanes.
All of that came together Tuesday in front of 18,176 fans at PNC Arena.
Ayres sounded the siren — and hinted earlier in the day of a post-win Storm Surge involving him — and acquisitions Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei, along with Alex Nedeljokovic, half of the goalie reinforcements recalled from Charlotte, were all in the lineup.
None of it wasn’t enough to get the point-needy Hurricanes a win.
The Dallas Stars scored three times in the opening period — including just 51 seconds into the game — and never looked back, getting 40 saves from Anton Khudobin in a 4-1 win.
“It’s tough when you’re chasing the game the rest of the night, especially when you give one up that early, but you’ve got to bounce back. That’s what good teams do,” Nedeljkovic (12 saves) said.
On a night that didn’t go as planned, Skjei’s first shift with the Hurricanes fit the mold.
Center Sebastian Aho wound the puck around the boards in the defensive zone to Skjei on the right boards, but Carolina’s new defenseman fanned on a backhand clear and Jamie Benn threw the puck to the front of the net. Tyler Seguin redirected the shot, then got the rebound of a Nedeljkovic save and shoveled in the rebound for a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game.
“Had a bad bounce on that first one — just rolled over our stick,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
The Stars then struck two more times in the opening period to push the lead to three.
With Trocheck in the box for tripping, Roope Hintz scored his 18th goal of the season by weaving past Carolina defenseman Joel Edmundson and, while falling, backhanding the puck in at 17:20.
Just 109 seconds later, the Stars shot high on a 3-on-1 rush, but Jason Dickinson banged in the rebound for Dallas’ third goal on just six first period shots.
“We had a few too many Grade-A mistakes,” Brind’Amour said.
The early hole proved too much to overcome, but Brind’Amour felt his team played well in the face of an uphill climb — both on the the scoreboard and in trying to integrate several new players into the lineup.
“I thought they both were good,” Brind’Amour said of Trocheck and Skjei. “I thought Vinny was really good up front, and Brady, too. He had a couple really good opportunities to score and jumped into the play.”
Carolina’s power play also moved the puck well, but Khudobin — who played for the Hurricanes from 2013-15 — was sharp and beat his former team for the second time in two weeks, improving to 6-1-1 all-time against them.
The only time Carolina dented Khudobin came early in the second.
Aho led a rush up the ice and backhanded a pass to defenseman Jaccob Slavin on his right. Slavin gave it back and Aho went skate-to-stick to score at 2:33 of the second for his 36th goal of the season. He extended his career-best point streak to 13 games.
But that was as close as Carolina would get, and Dallas restored its three-goal lead at 13:45 of the third when Denis Gurianov beat Nedeljkovic from the slot to finish the scoring.
“I was not disappointed with that game,” Brind’Amour said. “I like the way we came and stuck to our game plan. We just couldn’t find a way to get one in.”
Notes: The Hurricanes donated money to the National Kidney Foundation in honor of Ayres, who received a transplant in 2004. Proceeds from a T-shirt with Ayres name and No. 90 on the back, along with $1 from each Storm Brew beer sold during the game, were donated to help prevent kidney disease. … Andrei Svechnikov got a secondary assist on Carolina’s lone goal, pushing his point streak to 11 games. … Skjei, wearing No. 76, played 20:37 and finished tied for the team lead with five shots on goal, one shy of his career-high. … Trocheck, who chose No. 16 upon arriving in Carolina, logged 17:06 and won 12 of 17 faceoffs. … It was Nedeljkovic’s second start and third appearance in the NHL. He stopped 17 shots in relief in a no-decision loss to Columbus on Jan. 17, 2017, and he won his only start last season, stopping 24 of 26 shots in a 5-2 win at Vancouver on Jan. 23, 2019.