Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/20/10 at 11:47 PM ET
On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes headed into Los Angeles with a lot of good feelings. Feeding off the big win in San Jose, they kept the forward lines intact. The only change to the lineup was that Cam Ward got the night off and his backup Justin Peters got his first start of the season. He played well, but in the end, the Kings got the 4-3 win.
Ryan Smyth, fresh out of the penalty box, banged in a third chance rebound to give the the early lead at 5:43 of the first. Justin Peters made a nice save on former Cane Justin Williams, but the former Oiler got the goal. Fellow ex-Oil Jarret Stoll had the primary assist and Viva the second.
At 7:31, Chad LaRose notched his second goal in as many nights to knot the score. He and Eric Staal were in on a break, and while Staal would normally take the shot, he dished to Sharpie, who rifled it in from the left circle. It struck the bar in the back of the net and bounced back out, leaving the Kings players and fans to think that it had hit the crossbar. After a short review, the goal was deemed good. Staal had the only helper.
The Captain had another two-on-one break late in the first with Drayson Bowman streaking down the left wing. This time, Staal took the shot and found the net for the second night in a row. The unassisted goal was marked at 17:46.
As the Canes were thinking that they would go into the first intermission with the one goal cushion, the Kings had a different plan. Wayne Simmons snuck fired a shot from the left circle with less than ten seconds to play. It looked like his unassisted goal, but it was later changed to Michal Handzus, with assists to Alexei Ponikarovsky and Simmons.
At 6:58 of the middle frame, Anze Kopitar put the Kings back on top….... Assisted by Dustin Brown. Surprisingly, it was the first goal of the season for the 2005 first round draft selection.
Carolina’s rookie Jeff Skinner, who was the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft, finally got his first NHL goal thanks to a lot of hard work. He had a couple of brilliant scoring chances earlier in the game, and he had a really good game on Tuesday, but he’d not found the net until 14:39 of the second. Defenseman Anton Babchuk and Erik Cole had the helpers on the momentous goal. The 18-year old worked hard on the boards to keep possession of the puck, getting it to Cole. After the puck went to Babchuk on the right point, Skinner crept into the low slot undetected and easily tucked in the rebound.
In the final period, the Kings’ rookie Andrei Loktionov scored from behind the goal to get his first NHL goal, and it proved to be the game winner. Kopitar and Willie Mitchell registered the assists. The goal came at 3:19 of the period. Loktionov was down by the end boards, and he spotted a chance to bank a shot in off Justin Peters’ gear. The shot went off the heel of Peters’ left skate and into the net. It wasn’t a bad bounce. It was a skilled and opportunistic shot.
The rest of the third was dominated by the Hurricanes, who had 15 shots in the final period. The Kings’ netminder Jonathan Bernier was outstanding down the stretch, and gave his team the win. It was a game that Carolina could have won, and the Canes will think that they left points on the table, but they can still be happy about the way they played. For the most part. They’re having serious problems in the faceoff circle. They’re not doing very well on the power play. They are, though, playing aggressively and creatively.
Carolina will conclude its 15,000 mile road trip on Saturday night in Phoenix
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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.