Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/20/08 at 02:43 AM ET
On Sunday night, the Hurricanes needed some heroics from goaltender Michael Leighton in order to squeak out a 3-1 victory in Anaheim. The Canes took three of a possible four points in California, getting the six game road trip off to a good start.
Michael Leighton got his second start of the year, and he was much better than he was in his win against Tampa. Partial credit on that goes to better defense in front of him, denying second chances. Mostly, though, the credit is his for having better rebound control and better awareness.
Rod Brind’Amour and Eric Staal got key goals late in the game, and Ryan Bayda continued his impressive campaign by scoring his second goal of the season.
For the first time all season, the Hurricanes got on the scoreboard first, and it was a beauty of a goal. Carolina was mounting some serious pressure deep in the Ducks’ end for the first five minutes, seizing control of the flow. Eric Staal wrapped around the goal, forcing J-S Giguere to commit to him. Instead of shooting, Staal sent a cross-crease pass to Bayda, who was all alone in the left circle. Giguere was out of position, the net was wide open, and Bayda didn’t miss. The goal came at 6:00 of the first period, assisted by Staal and Nic Wallin.
Carolina, who has struggled with the power play, missed a golden chance to extend their lead when they had an extended five-on-three power play. They were unable to capitalize, but they shut down the Ducks for the first period.
Midway through the second, Leighton made a fantasic stop on Corey Perry, exploding from post to post to stop a shot that was labeled for the back of the net.
Francois Beauchemin put the home team on the board at 14:27 of the second. As the Canes had done in the first period, the Ducks dominated the flow of the game in the second. They had chance after chance, all stopped by Leighton. Beauchemin’s shot from the point went through a crowd of people and may have ricocheted off Ray Whitney’s stick before finding the net. Travis Moen and Sammy Pahlsson got the assists.
Rod Brind’Amour put Carolina back in front at 18:48 of the second on another really nifty play. From up high in the left circle, Nic Wallin whiffed on a shot that had just enough impetus to get to the front of the goal. Brind’Amour was there all by himself, which allowed him to settle the bouncing puck, pull it to his backhand and wait for Giguere to make his move. All Brindy had to do was tuck it in. Wallin and Whitney got the helpers.
The third period was quite tense. Carolina had to kill off three penalties, including a five-on-three sequence, and the Ducks continued to control the tempo. Leighton made stop after stop and his defensemen made great play after great play.
Finally, at 19:23, Eric Staal eased the tension by potting an empty net goal from his own goal line. Officially, the shot was from 157 feet, but it may as well have been from outside in the parking lot. His long distance shot went off the left post and in. It’s his third goal of the season. Two of them have been into an empty net, but they still count.
The “official” three stars went to Teemu Selanne (third), Chris Pronger (second) and Michael Leighton (first). Mine are a little different. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Eric Staal, CAR—- 1 goal, 1 assist
SECOND STAR Nic Wallin, CAR—- 2 assists, +3, 4 hits, 2 blocked shots
FIRST STAR Michael Leighton, CAR—- 32 saves
The Canes are happy to have gotten three standings points in the Golden State, and Nic Wallin had two great games, picking up two assists in each contest. They’ll stay in California overnight, then fly back east. Their six game road stint continues on Thursday in Pittsburgh.
It’s worth mentioning, although I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, that Brandon Sutter had a good game. He’s been outstanding on the penalty kill, and is getting better in the faceoff circle. In this game, he took the same number of faceoffs (16) that Rod Brind’Amour took. He’s continuing to get scoring chances, and before too long those will translate into scores.
The Hurricanes will be off until Thursday in Pittsburgh, then Saturday on Lawn Guylund.
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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.