Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 12/20/09 at 01:56 PM ET
In the back end of a back-to-back home-and-home against Florida, the Hurricanes won 3-2. They have now won five of the last six home games. Four of their next five games will be in the RBC Center, and all will be against Eastern Conference teams. This will give the boys a chance to start their long climb back into the playoff hunt. At this point, though, they’d be happy just to get to 14th in the East.
Over the summer, the RBC Center got new endwalls and new glass. The boards are much more lively than they ever were in the past, and this contributed to one goal for each team.
Very early in the game, Tom Kostopoulos set the tone when he fought Gregory Campbell at 1:16 of the first. Things had not gone well on Friday in Sunrise, and this was a way of saying that it wasn’t going to be that easy in the RBC Center.
Pat Dwyer got the first goal of the game on Saturday, just as he had on Friday. This time, it came with a little assistance from the springy boards. Dwyer took a big hit from Keith Ballard behind the net, and he was sort of slingshot back to the front of the net, where he banged in a rebound from Matt Cullen’s wrap attempt. The goal came at 12:28, and was assisted by Cullen and Ray Whitney.
At 14:47, Matt Cullen made it 2-0 with an unassisted shorthanded goal from the right circle. The Panthers misplayed the puck in neutral ice, and Cullen was in with Dwyer for a two-on-one rush. Both the defenseman and Scott Clemmensen anticipated a pass to Dwyer, but Cullen ripped it past the goaltender. The shortie was Cullen’s second of the season, which gives him a share of the league lead in that department. As a team, the Hurricanes now have four.
Sergei Samsonov made it 3-0 at 8:27 of the second on a nifty and simple play. Tom Kostopoulos made a great cross-ice pass to Sammy on the left side of the ice. Rather than dance around for awhile, Samsonov simply shot the puck, and he got it past Clemmensen.
At the end of two, Carolina still held that 3-0 lead and they were playing a complete game. They looked to be very much in the driver’s seat with a chance to get the first shutout of the season for Cam Ward (or any Canes netminder for that matter). However, the Panthers refused to give up.
Shawn Matthias broke up the shutout attempt at 2:17 of the third on a bit of a crazy play. The puck took a really strange carom off the end boards and Cam Ward was completely lost. Matthias was all alone near the right post while Cam Ward might as well have been sitting in section 126. Easy goal, assisted by Jordan Leopold and Gregory Cambpell.
The Canes made it tough on themselves for the rest of the period, spending a lot of time in the box. Not long after the Canes fought off one power play, they were guilty of hooking twice in less than thirty seconds. This gave the Panthers a lengthy five-on-three situation. The second of those two hooking penalties was a little ticky-tacky, but it is what it is.
Stephen Weiss scored his 17th of the season at 12:39 on that two man advantage, and Carolina held the Cats at bay for the remainder of the game.
Carolina will have home games against the Rangers on Monday, the Habs on Wednesday and the Flyers on Boxing Day. I wonder if Michael Leighton gets the start.
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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.