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Harsh words from 'Canes, Peters after second straight loss

Sharks Hurricanes Hockey

Carolina Hurricanes' Teuvo Teravainen (86) battles San Jose Sharks' Justin Braun (61) for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Sunday, February 4, 2018

His eyes tucked under a sweat-stained hat, Carolina’s Jordan Staal, perched under his locker after another head-scratching performance on Sunday afternoon, said what all 11,614 fans at PNC Arena were thinking after his team’s 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

So did defenseman Justin Faulk.

And so certainly did Carolina coach Bill Peters.

A win on the fourth game of Carolina’s eight-game homestand would have meant sole possession of a playoff spot. Instead, it was another chance lost in an up-and-down season.

“I don’t know if it’s the pressure or not, but at some point, something’s got to give,” Staal said.

It was the second loss in a row, this one perhaps even more disappointing than last Friday’s 4-1 defeat to Detroit.

“Brutal I guess, is the only way to say it,” Faulk said. “We can’t take periods off. In the last few games we haven’t been able to play a complete game.”

For Peters, trying to coach a sporadic franchise in the midst of an ownership change into the playoffs for the first time since 2009, it was, to borrow his own term, “unacceptable.”

“I don’t know if its a character issue or what it is,” he said. “Whether we’re in the eighth spot, ninth spot, 10th or first, that effort today was unacceptable, period.

“We got what we deserved.”

Indeed, it was the first period that highlighted what Peters called a low point of the year.

Despite giving his team a practice free Saturday, the coach watched his Hurricanes skate on dead legs in the first 20 minutes, a period the Sharks outshot Carolina, 12-5.

“I thought some guys were fast asleep at the beginning of the game,” Peters said. “They were better than us from the start to the end.”

The Sharks captured an advantage they would only briefly relinquish 4:06 into the game, a wrist shot with a clear view of Cam Ward and the net by Timo Meier.

For the next 10 minutes, San Jose challenged Ward with a steady line of shots, including a breakaway attempt by Joel Ward that could have put the Sharks up, 2-0, if not for a save from the Carolina goalie.

The brightest spot of the game for Carolina came on a late first period goal from Sebastian Aho, his team-leading 19th of the season and his third in two contests against the Sharks. Less than two minutes later, the tie was broken, this time for good, on a goal just outside the crease by Chris Tierney.

The period ended at that score but the lackluster play didn’t for Carolina, which allowed an improbable goal from Brent Burns from the neutral zone, a turnaround golf shot that looked more like an attempt at getting the puck to the net than a shot on goal.

The shot was helped by Barclay Goodrow, who was standing in Ward’s line of vision.

“It’s huge to get off to that good start. They did and they fed off it,” Faulk said. “Not much happened after that.”

Faulk’s assessment was correct; most of the rest of the contest played out not like a chance to nudge into the playoff race again, but something much less important.

“The effort, the intensity that we played at was similar to something you’d probably see at a neutral site game in September,” is the way Peters put it.

The Hurricanes actually gained the shot advantage in the second period, 12-8, including several during a power play chance after a fight between Brock McGinn and San Jose’s Brenden Dillon. But a chance to pull within one goal never came to be, even after a pulled net with three minutes left.

Up next for Carolina during this possibly season defining home stretch is, fittingly, Philadelphia, which now has a game in hand and a one point advantage over the Hurricanes for that final playoff spot.

“We were tight today, but for no good reason. Why would you be tight? You should be excited. It’s an exciting time of the year,” Peters said. “You can see the league taking a step. Now you’ve to got to go on. That will be our challenge tomorrow in practice and Tuesday against Philly.”

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