The Canes’ Justin Williams, middle, fights with the Flames Mark Giordano, left, after Giordano hit the Canes’ Sebastian Aho, knocking him out of the game, on Jan. 14. Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com
The Canes’ Justin Williams, middle, fights with the Flames Mark Giordano, left, after Giordano hit the Canes’ Sebastian Aho, knocking him out of the game, on Jan. 14. Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes are getting time to heal and regroup. And they need it.

By Chip Alexander

calexander@newsobserver.com

January 15, 2018 11:01 AM

Defenseman Brett Pesce is hurt.

Center Derek Ryan is hurt.

After Sunday’s game against the Calgary Flames, winger Sebastian Aho is hurt, too.

Then there’s the flu. Several Carolina Hurricanes players have been slowed recently by some kind of illness sweeping through the locker room.

If ever there was a good time for time off, that time is now for the Canes. And they’re getting it, with the next five days free for their NHL-mandated bye week.

Pesce, placed on injured reserve Friday, may be good to go when the Canes resume the season Saturday in Detroit against the Red Wings. Canes coach Bill Peters said the same could be true for Ryan, injured Thursday in the road game against the Washington Capitals.

Aho may be another matter.

Aho was injured Jan. 6 against the Boston Bruins, falling awkwardly and twisting his right leg. It was a nasty-looking spill, but Aho quickly returned to practice and was back in the lineup for the next game, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Aho may not have been so lucky Sunday after taking the big hit from Mark Giordano of the Flames. Carrying the puck into the Calgary zone, Aho cut through the left circle to the middle when he was hit both on the chin and the left knee by the Flames defenseman.

The Canes’ Sebastian Aho lies on the ice after he was hit by the Flames Mark Giordano on Jan. 14.
Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com

With Aho down on the ice, taking a quick look back to see who nailed him, then rolling over in pain, Canes forward Justin Williams went after Giordano. Dropping the gloves, Williams swapped a few quick punches with Giordano before the two were separated.

There was no immediate update on Aho’s condition after the game, although Peters said Aho’s knee was being evaluated. Given the contact to the head – Giordano was given a match penalty – Aho could have been concussed.

Peters said he wasn’t sure there was any intent on Giordano’s part to injure Aho, and Flames coach Glen Gulutzan came to his captain’s defense, saying Giordano’s shoulder and arm were down and Giordano was “playing hard.”

“It’s a little bit part of the game,” Gulutzan said. “You just hope the young guy’s not injured.”

That’s the Hurricanes’ hope. Aho, 20, leads the Canes in goals (16), points (37), power-play goals (4) and game-winners (3).

The Canes dropped out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference with the deflating 4-3 loss Friday to the Caps. Then, the loss to Calgary. To lose arguably their best player for any extended period of time could be a season-changer.

But the Canes have much to mull over during the break after the losses to the Caps and Flames.

“It definitely leaves a sour taste in our mouth,” forward Brock McGinn said.

Peters said he planned to take the break to relax and recharge, saying, “I’m going to turn it off, for sure. I have to.”

That was said a few hours before the game. If there is a bad medical report Monday on Aho, there may not be much relaxation for management and the coaching staff.

The Canes will have 37 games remaining when they return, 21 at PNC Arena. Out of playoff position, they’ll be chasing again.

“It’s never good to go into the break with a loss,” center Jordan Staal said. “We have to unfortunately dwell on that for a little bit. We’ve got to get away, get your rest when you can, then regroup.”

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip