Disappointment lingers for Hurricanes after 2nd-round exit

The Carolina Hurricanes have raised expectations after three straight playoff appearances.

That’s why a five-game ouster in the second round is a blow for a team that has talked openly about winning the Stanley Cup, leading to questions about the next steps to get there.

“The success of the regular season doesn’t really matter if you don’t succeed in the playoffs,” center Vincent Trocheck said Thursday, two days after a series-closing loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think for us, it’s just a matter of we know the second round isn’t where we want to finish our season. We want to be able to take it all the way. We want to be knocking on the door every year. So this is a disappointment for us.”

The Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference finals two years ago to end a nine-season playoff drought, followed by a repeat postseason trip last year in the Toronto bubble.

Heightened expectations followed with a returning core. And the Hurricanes delivered in the regular season, winning their first division title since the Cup-winning season of 2006 and staying in the Presidents’ Trophy hunt to the final week.

But after a tough six-game grind against Nashville, Carolina hit a wall in the reigning Cup champion Lightning. It ended with a 2-0 loss in Game 5, capping an 0-3 series home record after managing two goals on 99 shots against Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy.

That’s why disappointment was a common theme among players like Trocheck and Brock McGinn, who said he felt “like we didn’t do our job.”

Much of Carolina’s core, including star center Sebastian Aho and top defenseman Jaccob Slavin, is under contract for next year. That group now must learn from a setback.

“Just being around it a little bit in the organization, you could feel that growth,” goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic said. “I think this year maybe felt a little differently than previous years. I think there was maybe a little bit of a letdown, so to say, for just expectations internally. So I think it’s just more fuel for the fire to get ready for next year and really try to take that next step.”

Some things to watch for during the Hurricanes offseason:


One of the biggest steps will be reaching a deal with coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose contract expires this summer.

Both Brind’Amour – the captain of Carolina’s 2006 Cup winner — and owner Tom Dundon have made public comments in recent months indicating they expect to eventually reach an agreement, with Brind’Amour saying in early May: “Everybody knows I’m a Hurricane.”


The Hurricanes have to sort out their goaltending depth.

The 25-year-old Nedeljkovic is a Calder Trophy finalist for the NHL’s top rookie after posting franchise records with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage (minimum 15 games) along with three regular-season shutouts. The restricted free agent started all but two postseason games.

“I’ve always believed I could do it,” Nedeljkovic said. “This year I think just reinforces that fact.”

Nedeljkovic thrived in a larger role due to injuries for Petr Mrazek, who had led a rotation with James Reimer before Nedeljkovic’s emergence. Mrazek and Reimer will be unrestricted free agents next month.


Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is set to become an unrestricted free agent. He is an offensive threat with 42 regular-season goals over three seasons while also playing on Carolina’s top power-play unit.

“To be honest, I don’t really have any idea right now,” Hamilton said when asked whether he thought he’d re-sign or head elsewhere.


McGinn, fellow forwards Jordan Martinook and Cedric Paquette, and defenseman Jani Hakanpaa are unrestricted free agents. The Hurricanes acquired Paquette and Hakanpaa in trades this year.

The team also has multiple restricted free agents, including third-year forward Andrei Svechnikov. There have been extension talks with the No. 2 overall draft pick from 2018 and fixture on Carolina’s top line alongside Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.


The Lightning series highlighted the need to improve on special teams to match the league’s top teams. Tampa Bay converted on 15 of 36 power plays (41.7%) to win the battle with Carolina’s penalty kill, while the Hurricanes went 6 of 33 (18.1%).

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.