Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/24/10 at 12:40 AM ET
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes played the final game of a seven-game, 15,000 mile road trip. Just for fun, they took the final game to overtime. It was, at times, a beautiful game. It was, at times, a game reminiscent of the 14-game slide last season. In the end, though, the Hurricanes got the two points in Phoenix with the 4-3 win. On the road trip, they earned eight of a possible 14 points and will head for home on an overnight flight.
The mercurial defenseman Anton Babchuk potted the game winner in overtime after the Coyotes rallied from three goals down to force the extra session. In total, the Canes blueliners accounted for four of the nine scoring points in the game.
Although the Canes squandered the lead by giving up three quick goals in the third, they didn’t fold up the tent. They stayed focused. Cam Ward made some quality saves down the stretch, and they played aggressively in the extra frame.
After a scoreless and penalty-free first period, Carolina’s specialty teams took the spotlight in the second act. Patrick Dwyer, who was one of last season’s “Rat Pack” scored a shorthanded breakaway goal at 4:17 while Drayson Bowman was in the box. It’s already Carolina’s second shortie of the season and Dwyer’s second goal. It seemed like it was destined to happen, as the Hurricanes had no fewer than three great scoring chances during the shorthanded segment.
After the Yotes killed off one penalty, they had a really sloppy line change which resulted in a penalty for too many men. At 9:45, Jussi Jokinen made them pay, getting a power play marker assisted by defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo.
Very early in the third, Carolina took a 3-0 lead and the game seemed well in hand, but the Coyotes had different plans, and the Kyle Turris Show got underway.
Sergei Samsonov’s second goal of the season at 1:21 looked like it would be enough for the Hurricanes to coast to the final buzzer, but they always say that the 3-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in all of hockey.
Turris scored his first of the season at 5:45 of the third, and the home team was back from the dead. There weren’t very many folks there—the announced attendance was a very sad 8,189, and there were several Canes fans visible in the crowd—but they had something to cheer about.
It stayed 3-1 for a while, and just when I thought it would be time for Ilya Bryzgalov to vacate the net for an extra attacker, the Yotes made it really interesting. Turris scored his second of the game at 17:58. Amazingly, Scotty Upshall got the equalizer just 22 seconds later. On the tying goal, Cam Ward went behind the goal to play the puck, but didn’t play it well and didn’t recover in time.
In the final minute and a half, it looked like Phoenix would find a way to complete the uphill climb and take the lead, but Cam Ward stood tall, and the Canes were actually lucky to survive the late onslaught.
In the bonus frame, both teams were playing full-bore. It was up and down the ice for nearly three minutes, with no breaks in the action.
In the end, Anton Babchuk did exactly what the coaches have implored him to do. He shot the puck. From down low. In his previous two stays with Carolina, he was happy to shoot, but he only shot from above the circles, into heavy traffic. This time around, he’s happy to join the rush, and it’s resulted in a couple of goals. With Jussi Jokinen covering the point, Babs pinched in, accepted a really nifty pass from Pitkanen near the bottom of the left circle, and ripped it past Bryzgalov.
Carolina had four power play chances and cashed in on one of them. They were perfect on the penalty kill and made it sweeter by scoring the shortie.
The Coyotes showed a lot of resolve by rallying back to tie it, but the third goal was sloppy. It was also that thing that Carolina did in nearly every one of those 14 straight losses last season: goals in quick bursts. Despite the negatives, though, Carolina emerged with the win. And that will make the plane ride home that much sweeter.
On Wednesday, the Canes will do something they haven’t done since April 8. They’ll play a real game in the RBC Center.
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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.