Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/12/10 at 02:42 AM ET
On Thursday night, the Penguins and their mob of fans invaded Raleigh. They used blitzkrieg tactics to take a 2-0 lead just five and a half minutes into the game, and it looked like they would have their way with the host Hurricanes. However, the Hurricanes fought back and ultimately emerged with a 4-3 overtime win. The sea of powder blue sweater-clad fans, who were boisterous during the game, left in silence while the Hurricanes fans reclaimed their own barn.
Justin Peters, who faced 40 shots in the game, looked shaky at times. In the end, though, he earned his fourth win in five tries thanks to some outstanding work in the third frame.
Brian Pothier, who was part of the return on the Joe Corvo trade, scored his first Hurricanes goal to win the game very early in the overtime period.
Under normal circumstances, I park in one of the auxiliary remote parking lots at the RBC Center. It’s a dirt and gravel lot, and it’s about a half mile hike to the arena, but it saves me $10 and gives me a tiny bit of much needed exercise. Thanks to the rainy conditions today, I gave myself some extra time so I could park in the main lot and avoid the mud. Ironically, the traffic was horrible, I ended up getting to the game a little late, the main lot was full and I ended up parking in the mud anyway. And it still cost me $10. Meh. On the radio, I heard Jordan Staal give the visitors a 1-0 lead just a minute into the game. Amazingly, this was JStaal’s first goal against EStaal and the Canes.
During my walk to the arena, Billy Guerin made it 2-0, and I hadn’t seen a single thing.
As I walked through the concourse to my home in section 112, the goal horn sounded as Ray Whitney scored a power play goal to make it 2-1 at 7:45 of the first. Three goals had been scored and I hadn’t seen a single second of play.
Just as I finally made it to my seat (sadly, sans beverage), Zach Boychuk scored a nasty backhanded goal at 9:11 to knot the game at two. New game. No more scoring in the first, and it took me a while to get focused. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of Penguins fans in the crowd. They always represent well, and I suppose some of these in attendance tonight had an easier time getting tickets since the ACC basketball tournament was going on an hour away in Greensboro, and some Canes fans went to the basketball tournament instead of this game.
Eric Staal gave the Canes a 3-2 lead at 2:09 of the second for his 21st of the season and his first since the break. There are 15 games left, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to make it to 30 goals. That streak of four straight seasons of 30+ goals will come to an end.
This lead wouldn’t last long, because Boston’s public enemy #1 Matt Cooke chipped one in at 6:00.
For the remainder of the period, Justin Peters looked a little shaky. He came too far out of net on a couple of occasions and was bailed out by his defense. He made a couple of circus saves where he should have been beaten. He struggled with his positioning and seemed to be having trouble moving from his right to left. This left the right side of the net way too open, but the Pens weren’t able to take advantage.
At one point in the second, the Canes had a long five-on-three sequence, but the Pens shut that down and the Canes weren’t able to even attempt a shot. It looked like a real game-defining moment, but fortunately it didn’t hurt the Canes in the end.
There was no scoring in the third, but the Pens had some outstanding chances. Peters made some great saves, and he had some good luck, and the Hurricanes felt lucky to have made it through the third stanza unscathed. After the Pens got just nine shots in the first period, they registered 16 in the second and 14 in the third. Meanwhile, Carolina took six in the first and seven in each of the second and third.
Carolina needed only one shot in the bonus frame, and it took just 23 seconds for Brian Pothier to make a lot of friends on his new team. His shot from the right dot beat Brent Johnson and the Canes won 4-3.
The Hurricanes are the hottest team in the league, and they’ve won eight of their last ten. They have a slim chance of qualifying for the playoffs, and they took care of their own business tonight. Unfortunately, it was sort of for naught since Boston and Montréal both won their games. The Canes, then, were unable to pick up any ground on the other teams battling for the eighth playoff spot in the East. They are surprisingly just three points out of ninth place, but remain eight points out of eighth. Still not impossible, but still extraordinarily improbable.
This was the first of four games in a homestand that will also feature games against Phoenix (Saturday), Boston (next Tuesday) and Washington (next Thursday).
Sadly, Brandon Sutter left the game in the first period with a “lower body injury” and did not return. According to the radio, it doesn’t appear to be serious. Sutter has been Carolina’s best player lately, and he was missed greatly tonight. Especially in penalty killing situations.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.