Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/11/10 at 01:19 AM ET
When the day started, Carolina was nine points out of eighth place, desperately clinging onto the hope of making a run to the playoffs. They were about to finish a three game road trip through the Southeast division and they seriously needed a win against the best team in the league. They ended up with a 4-3 overtime loss, which would be a good outcome most nights, but when every game is a “must win”, it’s a little heartbreaking.
I know, as I knew in November, that this team isn’t going to make the playoffs. However, they’ve played very well since the new year and actually made the impossible seem possible.
They also learned early in the morning that Erik Cole was suffering from flu-like symptoms and would be unavailable tonight. In other seasons, that would be devastating news, but to be brutally honest, I’ve actually forgotten that he’s even on the team this season.
To fill the lineup, the Canes recalled Oskar Osala from the Rats. The 22-year old Finn was acquired from the Caps at the trading deadline as part of the package that sent Joe Corvo to Washington and Brian Pothier and a pick here. He’s a beast of a young man, 6’4” 217lbs, and he looked pretty good with limited ice time on the Brind’Amour line. He gave a first intermission interview and sounded thrilled to be in the organ-eye-zation.
Brandon Sutter played an outstanding game, but has nothing to show for it on the scoresheet. He created a shorthanded breakaway situation on which he was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. The attempt was unsuccessful, but his effort was outstanding. Later in the game, he created another shorthanded rush with some really smart stick work. He and Chad LaRose are an excellent pair on the PK. This used to be Matt Cullen’s role, but Sutter is really running with it.
Manny Legace had a good night, stopping 35 of 39 shots, but Tomas Fleischmann got the game-winning shot with 100 seconds to play in the extra frame.
Jussi Jokinen scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season, while fellow Finn Tuomo Ruutu notched his 14th. Pat Dwyer scored the other goal for the Canes.
Mike Green scored twice for the home team and Alex Semin had the game’s first goal.
Carolina will return to Raleigh, where they will be met by Matt Cooke and the Penguins. Justin Peters will get the start in nets, and Erik Cole’s status is up in the air. Honestly, though, I’d just as soon let him stay out of the lineup.
I’m guessing that Matt Cooke won’t be getting a warm welcome by the fans in the RBC Center Thursday night. I’ll be there to find out.
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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.