Two hours before the game Saturday, Canes coach Paul Maurice was talking about the power play.
"Our power play," he said, "has been woeful."
And that was before the Canes went 0-for-9 on the power play in a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the RBC Center. Carolina had a 5-on-3 advantage three times during the game, for more than two minutes total, but couldn't convert. In the past 15 games, the Canes now are 3-for-61 on the power play.
Before the game, Maurice said the Canes' five-on-five play had been pretty strong and had some jam in recent games. What was lacking on the power play, he said, was the same aggressive attitude.
"We're too slow on the way up the ice that is causing too many easy outs for (opponents)," he said. "And then the simplicity of the one-on-one battle. Not just grabbing the puck and expecting everybody to skate back to the front of the net and let you do what you want with it. We've got to fight for some of those pucks, and then we've got to get in the lanes and just shoot.
"Now we've got guys ripping bombs from the top and missing the net. We're just dropping our head and trying to kill the thing. We've just got to get it to the net. The five-on-five recipe is what we need for our power play."
The Canes then had two early power plays against the Jackets, including 22 seconds of the first 5-on-3. That had a third late in the first period. Total shots: one on the 5-on-3, four on the 5-on-4s.
By game's end, the Canes had three shots on 5-on-3s and another eight 5-on-4.
"The penalty kills, especially on the 5-on-3s, our guys did a great job of getting it up wings and blocking," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said.
Arniel said the Jackets had scouted the Canes and "had a pretty good idea of what they like to do." But he quickly praised goalie Scott Mason as being the Jackets' best penalty killer.
"Obviously the power play is one of the biggest things for us right now. It's not working," Canes forward Jussi Jokinen said after the game. "Some power plays we had some pretty good chances and some power plays weren't as good."
The Canes now have gone five games without a power-play score. They scored the last one against the Florida Panthers on March 1 and it was the difference in a 2-1 win.
In a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday, the Canes were 0-5. In an overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday, they were 0-3.
With defenseman Jamie McBain now out with an upper-body injury, the Canes used Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen, then Jay Harrison and forward Erik Cole at the points on their first two power plays Saturday. Cole made a good stretch pass to Jokinen to force the second penalty and the brief 5-on-3.
But Cole's inexperience at the point may also have hurt after Columbus killed off the first penalty. The Jackets' Samuel Pahlsson scored shorthanded as Harrison and Cole skated back into defensive position, Cole dropping to the ice too late to try and block Pahlsson's rebound chance.
The Canes had 13:49 of power-play time in the game, but Maurice didn't want to lay the loss entirely on the power play. The Canes did have 31 shots and missed open nets on a few occasions.
"That's a big block of power-play time and a bunch of it was not very good," he said. "But the other part of it, those are chances you dream about and the puck has got to go into the net."
Maurice said the Canes would work on the power play at Monday's practice before flying to Buffalo.
"We'll work different people in and out," he said. "But at the end of the day there's still going to be eight, nine guys who are power-play guys that have got to get it done. And they'll work at it."