Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/09/10 at 11:35 PM ET
On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes pummeled the visiting Edmonton Oilers to the tune of 7-1. A lot went right for the home team, including great success at the power play, a 50% success rate in the faceoff circle (!), a four point night from captain Eric Staal and a three point night from rookie sensation Jeff Skinner. However, the Hurricanes should be careful not to break their collective arm patting themselves on the back. The Oilers are a bad team who got off to a really bad start and never recovered. Carolina scored just 26 seconds into the game, and it was all downhill from there.
Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin allowed four goals on eight shots in just 7:19 of ice time. It was probably the second worst night of the calendar year for him. His dreadful save percentage of .500 was only marginally higher than ... oh never mind.
This game was, for the Oilers, no rock and roll fun. It was over before it began. Pat Dwyer scored at 0:26 on the second shot of the game. Brandon Sutter attempted a shot from the left dot that was deflected by Khabibulin right to a charging Dwyer, who was all alone in the low slot. The puck went off Dwyer’s left skate and into the back of the net. Jiri Tlusty got the secondary assist. It was a bit of a sucker punch that had the Oil reeling.
The referees delivered a heavy blow to the Oilers by missing a high-stick that would have given the Oil a four minute advantage. Joni Pitkanen caught Andrew Cogliano with a high stick that left him bloodied, but it went unseen by the official. Seconds later, a penalty was called against the Oilers. Just 18 seconds into a penalty to Dustin Penner, Erik Cole deposited the puck into the net. This was, for all intents and purposes, the knockout blow, but the night was far from over for the Oil. On a beautifully set up play, Jeff Skinner hit Cole with a pass from the top of the right circle to a spot right between the hashmarks. Cole tipped it past the Bulin Wall at 1:15, with assists to Skinner and Staal.
Moments later, defenseman Joe Corvo made it 3-0 on a power play marker at 4:10, assisted by Skinner and Staal. It was a play very similar to the Cole goal, but the puck went all the way through the slot diagonally to the bottom of the left circle. They ran the play once during the power play, only to have Khabibulin rob Corvo. A few seconds later, they tried it again, and it worked.
Chad LaRose made it 4-0 at 7:19, and the Russian netminder’s night was over. The Oilers were caught up in neutral ice and the Canes rushed in on a four-on-two break. Joni Pitkanen led the charge, then centered a pass for Staal, who dished to Sharpie in the right circle for the easy goal.
Devan Dubnyk came on in relief of Khabibulin, and the unheard of goalie did just fine. He immediately faced some fire and turned away a grade A chance by Erik Cole. This slowed the bleeding and probably gave the team a little bit of confidence. The first period ended with the same score.
Early in the second, the Canes were afforded a minute of five-on-three, but the Oil killed off the front end. They, in fact, had a scoring chance during the segment. After the first penalty elapsed, though, the Canes added one more power play goal from the defenseman Corvo. His one-timer from the top of the left circle just barely trickled across the goal line after Dubnyk made a partial stop. Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter picked up the assists on the goal, which came at 4:49 of the middle frame.
The Oil managed to get a little bit of energy in the second, but they didn’t crack the score sheet.
Tom Kostopoulos had an excellent opportunity to pour another one on when he earned a penalty shot by being dragged down on a shorthanded breakaway. His attempt wasn’t very pretty, and this awkwardly gave the Oil some more confidence.
The third started the same way as the first and the second. Carolina got an early goal when Sergei “Tiny Dancer” Samsonov shoveled in a backhander from the right dot while three Oilers skaters stood in the slot watching. Staal and Pitkanen got the assists. 6-0 Canes.
A couple of minutes later, Jeff Skinner had a great chance to kick the convert, but Dubnyk made a really nice standup save on the young sniper.
Sadly, Cam Ward’s shutout bid was shut down when Dustin Penner got one by him at 5:21. He was there in the goal mouth to pounce on a short rebound of a shot from the left circle. Kurtis Foster and Ryan Whitney had the helpers.
Finally, at 7:48, Skinner got a goal to make it 7-1. Tuomo Ruutu created a neutral zone turnover, then streaked down the ice with the rest of the JET line on his left. From the top of the right circle, he centered a pass that was a half a stride ahead of Skinner, but the youngster stretched to get his stick on it, and he used his crazy strength to chip it in one-handed from the slot.
Skinner’s three point night (1/2) gives him 15 points on the season, increasing his lead in the rookie scoring department. The highly touted Taylor Hall, who was the first overall draft selection this summer, had zero points in this game and has six (3/3) on the season. Second pick Tyler Seguin has five points on the season.
Skinny earned first star status, with Eric Staal (0/4) and Joe Corvo (2/0) rounding out the three stars.
Carolina was an even 50% in the faceoff circle. This is reason to be excited.
Carolina was 3-7 on the power play. This is also reason to be excited.
Carolina has put together two convincing wins in a row. Although this was not a good opponent tonight, the effort from the Canes was very good. And while they shouldn’t break their arms patting themselves on the back, they should build on the confidence that they have in themselves right now.
The rowing won’t be so easy when the Flyers come to town on Veterans Day.
Down on the farm, the Checkers were smoked by the Hershey Bears 5-2. It was the first regulation loss for the Checkers in the last eight games. Chris Terry scored a goal and continues his meteoric rise to the top of the stats sheet.
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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.