Riding a two-game winning streak entering Friday night’s contest, the Hurricanes had a chance to build off of their momentum and continue their climb to the top of the Metropolitan Division.
After all, it was their first game all season with every skater healthy, as Brett Pesce returned following an eight game absence.
Carolina would score in the first two minutes of the game, but see their lead quickly erased, as they fell 5-2 to the reigning Eastern Conference champs.
With a lackluster performance, head coach Rod Brind’Amour was not afraid to voice his opinion after the first night of a back-to-back.
“Our top guys weren’t very good tonight. You’re not going to win if they’re not consistently at least matching the other team’s top guys,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “If you watch their top guys, they were all over. I don’t know where our top guys were.”
Carolina was outshot for just the second time this season, and they were 0-for-3 on the power play, which had been a major strength to begin the season.
Brind’Amour credited Florida for playing their way, but acknowledges that the Hurricanes need to get back to their style of play.
“We got to remember what makes us successful as a group,” said Brind’Amour. We got to put the work boots on, and right now, we’re not really doing it enough.”
He mentioned that they have shown the ability to do that in spurts this season, but that over the last five years it was something they did consistently.
To get back to that, it is simple. according to Brind’Amour.
“You got to win your battles. You got to understand that it’s going to be hard. It’s a hard game, and trying to look for an easy way, that’s never going to happen.”
Both Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho echoed the sentiment that the team needed to be better, as Brind’Amour’s comments seemed to hit home.
Just one of their victories has come against a team currently in the playoff picture, their shootout win against Los Angeles on the first game of their west coast road trip.
Carolina sits at 8-6 over their first 14 games, but there is still some reason to be optimistic even with the effort on Friday.
Just four of their 14, and soon to be 15, games have been played at PNC Arena. After Saturday’s contest in Tampa Bay, a stretch of five straight home contests await for the Hurricanes.
They’re 4-0 in Raleigh this season and have turned in much better and inspiring performances with the home crowd behind them.
Saturday’s contest will be telling in how the message was received by Carolina and whether or not they’re up to the challenge of putting together a complete contest to close out the quick road trip.