Dominant Hurricanes stumble on power play, lose in OT to Avs

Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho tries to deflect the puck past Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz during Colorado’s 3-2 overtime win Thursday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Fourteen.

That’s how many consecutive power plays the Hurricanes have failed to score, and on Thursday it cost them again.

Carolina was unable to convert with the man advantage at the end of regulation and lost in overtime on a goal by Colorado’s Artturi Lehkonen in a 3-2 Avalanche win in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena.

After Seth Jarvis was spun down by the Avalanche’s J.T. Compher in the Colorado end, defenseman Devon Toews led a 3-on-2 rush up ice. Toews passed to Compher, who dished to Lehkonen at the right faceoff dot for the one-time winner.

After the game, Jarvis just nodded without looking up when asked if Compher’s stick had gotten between his legs to force the consequential turnover.

It should have never come to that though. The Hurricanes had four power plays, including one after Alex Newhook was called for high-sticking with 1:49 remaining in regulation. Carolina managed just one shot on net on that chance and has now converted on just 15.2% of its chances this season — third worst in the NHL.

“We haven’t scored in tight games like this, and that was the game,” Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said of the power play.

It spoiled what was an otherwise dominant performance by the Hurricanes. Carolina fired 48 shots on Pavel Francouz — who made a career-high 46 saves in beating the Hurricanes for the second time in a week — and allowed just 15 Colorado shots.

The 33-shot differential was the most in the NHL since Calgary outshot Columbus 62-23 last season on Jan. 26 in a 6-0 win, and the last time a losing team had a bigger shot differential was the Sharks when they lost to Winnipeg 3-2 on Nov. 1, 2019, despite outshooting the Jets 53-19.

That effort left Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour with little to complain about outside of the power play.

“I was extremely happy. … You want to win, and you probably should,” Brind’Amour said before commenting on the power play. “And yeah, we’ve got to get better at that area. But with the guys we have, they will. I know it’s gonna turn around.”

Not only did the Hurricanes fail to score on the power play, but they also allowed a power play goal for the 12th time in 17 games this season.

After Carolina’s power play failed to do anything on its first opportunity, Colorado got its first chance at 5-on-4. Hurricanes center Jordan Staal separated Nathan MacKinnon from the puck along the boards. But in his attempt to collect the puck, he instead centered it directly to Evan Rodrigues, who turned and snapped a shot past Antti Raanta (12 saves) for a 1-0 Avalanche lead at 7:20 of the first.

The Hurricanes tied the game at 7:14 of the second period when, after a rugby-like scrum following a faceoff, the puck got to Aho. He settled it and ripped a shot past the blocker of Francouz to tie the game 1-1.

A lapse in focus cost the Hurricanes in the second period.

Colorado defenseman Josh Manson saw Alex Newhook streaking down the ice past an unsuspecting Martin Necas, hitting him with a stretch pass. Newhook deked and scored to give the Avalanche the lead again at 14:20 of the middle frame.

“I kind of let him go on the breakaway,” Necas said. “That’s a tough one when you’re playing good and they score this kind of goal, you just give it to them.”

Brind’Amour admitted that a year ago Necas may have been glued to the bench for the miscue.

“He’ll lose sleep over it tonight. … These are learning moments too,” the coach said. “And sometimes you’ve got to learn the hard way, and that’s the best way to learn. So I don’t think we’ll see that again.”

Necas redeemed himself in the third.

After Francouz collided with Avalanche defenseman Andreas Englund behind the Colorado net, Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin quickly shot the puck toward the net. It hit Englund and rebounded to Necas, who waited out Francouz — without his stick after the miscommunication with Englund — for his eighth goal of the season and a 2-2 tie at 10:23 of the third.

Now Brind’Amour needs to find a way to instill confidence in his team’s floundering power play.

“Our special teams are kind of killing us at this time,” Necas said. “And that’s the kind of thing we were very good at last season. So we’ve just got to figure it out somehow.”

Notes: Necas factored on both Carolina goals, assisting on Aho’s, and has multipoint efforts in seven of 17 games this season. … Staal was 24 of 27 on faceoffs, limiting MacKinnon to a 4-for-22 night. It was the most faceoffs Staal’s won in any game (regular season or playoffs) in his career and his best winning percentage (88.9%) of any game with at least five draws taken since he won 12 of 13 (92.3%) with Pittsburgh on Oct. 7, 2009.