Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/10/09 at 11:16 AM ET
On Friday night against the visiting Florida Panthers, the Hurricanes finally figured out how to get the puck in the net. Seven different guys scored goals and twelve different guys had scoring points in a 7-2 romp of the Cats. The Canes continued to have success in the black sweaters as they wore them for the first time this season.
While the penalty killers got better, the power play units did not, and that continues to be a major area of concern. The Canes were limited to three power play chances, and failed to score even in a minute of five-on-three. On the other side, the Canes killed off all six shorthanded situations including 40 seconds of a two man disadvantage.
Tom Kostopoulos scored the game’s first goal on a shorthanded situation after forcing a turnover in the Florida zone. The unassisted goal came at 7:00 of the first. After that, it was all gravy.
I wrote that I thought the Hurricanes would break out in this game, and I named Chad LaRose and Eric Staal as contributors. I went as far as to say “I think that (LaRose) and some of the other Canes forwards will get points tonight, but it has to start with Staal.” Neither Staal nor LaRose was on the scoresheet, but 12 guys were, so I’ll take it.
Even though Staal didn’t score, he was very good out there. I was equally impressed by Andrew Alberts, who led all skaters with five hits. He also added three blocked shots and played a very sound game. He will undoubtedly become a fan favorite if he continues to play the way he has been. Look out, Tim Gleason.
At 10:20 of the first, Tuomo Ruutu came in all alone on Tomas Vokoun and buried his wrist shot. Sergei Samsonov made a beautiful stretch pass to set it up. Tim Gleason got the secondary assist. This was Ruutu’s first goal of the season.
Ville Koistenen and Keith Ballard of the Panthers took penalties 54 seconds apart, giving the Hurricanes 1:06 of two man advantage. Unfortunately, they were unable to cash in or even threaten to cash in.
Jussi Jokinen scored his second of the season on a play reminiscent of Ty Conklin and Jason Smith in game one of the 2006 SCF. Vokoun went behind his net to play a puck, but turned the puck over to Jokinen, who wrapped to the left post and tucked the puck into a vacant net. This, ultimately, was the game-winner.
Ray Whitney scored his first goal of the season at 13:30 on on a breakaway assisted by Nic Wallin and Matt Cullen. These were the first scoring points of the season for each player.
Shawn Matthias of the Panthers spoiled Cam Ward’s shutout bid at 16:41 of the second.
In the third period, the Hurricanes chased Tomas Vokoun and ended up scoring three goals from the same spot on the ice.
Matt Cullen started the third by firing a laser from the top of the left circle off the goalpost and in. Ruutu and Joe Corvo assisted. After this goal, Vokoun left and Alexander Salak made his NHL debut. Except for a 19 second span, he held his own out there.
At 15:14 of the third, Carolina’s captain scored his first of the season. Jussi Jokinen set up Brind’Amour with a lovely one-timer from the top of the left circle. The same spot as Cully’s goal. Scott Walker got the secondary assist.
Before we could even sit back down, Carolina defenseman Jay Harrison scored his first NHL goal at 15:33. Also from the top of the left circle. Jokinen and Brind’Amour got the assists. While the other personnel remained the same after the Brind’Amour goal, Harrison had just come off the bench for Nic Wallin.
The Cats didn’t give up, and their next goal was the result of hard work. Michael Frolik cashed in on a rebound in front of the net. Bryan McCabe and Steven Reinprecht got the helpers.
In the arena, the three stars of the game were Ruutu (third), Jokinen (second) and Cullen (first). I know sometimes the official stars are handed out by some intern and sometimes they’re just a little random. This situation isn’t way off the mark, but I don’t even have Cullen as any of the stars, let alone the first. My stars would be Andrew Alberts (third), Tuomo Ruutu (second) and Jussi Jokinen (first). The Juice had the game winning goal and two assists, and that’s good enough for me.
My ride home was pretty adventurous, as construction projects paralyzed interstate 40. Just outside Raleigh, we needed two hours to move four miles as four westbound lanes were reduced to one. Closer to home, another project was reducing four lanes to one, but we avoided that. Our trip home, which normally takes just over an hour, took close to four. If they don’t get these projects finished very quickly, there’s going to be absolute chaos and disaster when the State Fair opens next weekend. On the other hand, “our” governor could always put a moratorium on DOT projects. That’s neither here nor there.
The Canes will be in Tampa tonight, hoping to go 3-0 in the division. Cam Ward will most likely remain in nets.
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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.