RALEIGH There wasn’t much for the Carolina Hurricanes to like about their game Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Hurricanes lost 5-3 in a sloppy, penalty-filled game at PNC Arena.
They lost starting goaltender Anton Khudobin to injury.
They lost the competitive fire they showed in their past two games, a hard-fought victory against the Washington Capitals and then a well-played shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
They couldn’t score on a long 5-on-3 power play and were 1-for-9 overall with a man advantage, often looking disjointed on the ice.
Canes coach Kirk Muller didn’t like it. Any of it.
“I’m not very happy at all,” Muller said. “A few guys came ready to play and battle and play their game, but we had too many passengers and some of our top guys who didn’t bring their ‘A’ game. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done.”
While the loss stung, a bigger concern was the health of Khudobin, who was making this third start, had been consistently good and took a 2-0 record into the game.
Khudobin was injured as he ventured well out of the net midway through the second period while attempting to play the puck. He appeared to catch an edge with his skate, falling awkwardly.
Khudobin returned to the net but soon needed assistance in leaving the ice as Cam Ward entered the game. Muller was not sure of the severity of the injury after the game and said Khudobin would have an MRI on Monday.
“That didn’t help,” Canes center Jordan Staal said of Khudobin’s injury. “He’s been playing well for us and obviously seeing him go down was tough.”
Khudobin had stopped 18 of 20 shots when he was forced out of the game with 10 minutes, 8 seconds left in the second. Ward, the starter Friday against the Kings, allowed three goals on 12 shots.
Forward Rob Klinkhammer, who had five career goals before Sunday, scored twice for the Coyotes (4-2-0), who won their third in a row to cap a five-game road trip. Klinkhammer gave the Coyotes a 4-3 lead just 22 seconds into the third, scoring off an odd-man rush, and Shane Doan added the fifth goal to seal it.
Jeff Skinner scored his second of the season and second in two games for the Canes (2-2-2) on a second-period power play. Skinner took a pass from Nathan Gerbe, who was behind the net. The puck glanced off the mask of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith and nicked the crossbar.
Skinner’s goal tied the score 3-3 with 57 seconds left in the period, and Jordan Staal nearly gave the Canes the lead in the final seconds of the second. His shot hit the crossbar, the puck falling straight down and landing an inch or two from the goal line.
Eric Staal scored for Carolina in the first period, offsetting Mikkel Boedker’s power-play goal for Phoenix. Canes center Riley Nash picked up his first goal of the season in the second, tipping a Ryan Murphy shot from the point past Smith for a 2-1 lead.
Klinkhammer’s first goal, which came out of a scrum in front of Khudobin, tied it 2-2. Lauri Korpikoski then pushed Phoenix ahead 3-2 after the Canes couldn’t convert on nearly a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 power play.
The game was filled with penalties – 11 on the Coyotes and seven against Carolina.
“It was a slow game, a choppy game. Not a whole lot of flow,” Jordan Staal said. “A lot of penalties. It was tough to get … some momentum going. We couldn’t find our mojo and really find our game and play in their end.”
Canes forward Tuomo Ruutu was in the lineup for the first time this season. Ruutu, coming off a leg injury, was activated off injured reserve Sunday morning and started on the fourth line as Kevin Westgarth was made a healthy scratch.
Ruutu saw time on the first power-play unit during the game. He also forced the Coyotes into three penalties.
“Coming out in the third, it’s a tie game,” Skinner said. “I think we’ve got to be sort of more desperate to get the win.”
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