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Red and Black Hockey

Canes snatch consolation point from the jaws of defeat

On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes traveled up 95 North to take on the Capitals.  Simultaneously, the respective American League teams were battling in Hershey.  Paul Maurice was unable to earn a win in his 1000th game, but the Hurricanes were able to emerge with one standings point.

The Capitals were off and running with two goals in the first period off the sticks of Marcus Johansson and Alex Semin.  They dominated the first period, and it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Hurricanes.

After playing their way back into the game and pulling Cam Ward in the final minute of the game, Eric Staal forced overtime with less than three seconds to go in the game.  Overtime solved nothing, and Carolina’s shootout shooters couldn’t find the net.  Ovechkin scored in the first round of the shootout, and that’s all they needed.

Meanwhile, the Checkers were thrashing the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears to the tune of 5-2.

After giving up the two markers in the first period, Cam Ward was sharp.  He ended up getting first star honors by stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced.  Unfortunately, the one that he couldn’t stop was the one off the stick of Alexander the Eight in the skills competition. 

Carolina had a remarkable scoring chance in the overtime session when Sergei Samsonov danced in, then set up Ian White for a great unmolested shot from the low slot.  Semyon Varlamov made a really brilliant glove save to take away the game-winner.  It had to be the play of the game.  Eric Staal’s late game heroics weren’t too bad, either.

With time winding down and Cam Ward pulled for the extra attacker, the Captain shoveled a backhanded shot into the Washington net to stun the crowd at 19:57.

Going back to how things got started, the Caps got on the board at 7:00 of the first.  Canes defenseman Joni Pitkanen caughed up the puck deep in the Canes zone, down in the corner.  Eric Fehr of the Caps took control of the puck, then hit Johansson with a pass.  He was all by himself in the bottom of the right circle.  With only one man to beat, he made a really nifty move to force Ward out of position, then showed some patience, waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger.  It beat Ward easily for the rookie Swede’s third marker of the season.

Alex Semin made it 2-0 at 18:49, with help from the dangerous Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom.  Ovie led the way on a two-on-one with Tim Gleason the only man back for the Canes.  He barreled down the left wing side, then dished to Semin at the hashmarks of the right circle.  From there, he easily blasted it past Ward for his 18th goal of the season.

The shots on goal after 20 minutes were 17 for the Caps and just seven for the Canes.  It really looked like it was going to get ugly.  Luckily, the Canes righted the ship and got off on the right foot early in the second frame. 

Erik Cole, who has been good against the Capitals, got the Canes on the board just 50 seconds into the middle stanza with a sneaky goal from down low. Eric Staal came over the boards with fresh legs and carried the puck behind the Caps net, taking two Caps skaters with him.  They ignored Cole, who snuck in and set up just off the right post.  Staal made a really nice pass to Cole, who buried it from close range.  That’s the fifth goal of the season for Cole.  In his career, he now has 33 (20/13) points in 41 games against the Caps.

This was the only scoring in the second period, but the play was much more even.  Neither team managed to shoot the puck much, with Washington having a 7-6 edge in that department.  In the third period, Carolina notched it up a bit and registered 14 shots to 12 for Washington.  However, it looked like the game would end with that 2-1 score.  The Captain had other plans.

Staal’s heroic goal with three seconds on the clock forced overtime.  It was set up by the WonderFinns Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen as Caps defenseman Tom Poti watched.  However, the biggest thing about it was that Staal won a faceoff cleanly just a few seconds prior to the goal.  In his fine career, he has tallied 47 (20/27) points in 45 games against the Caps.  He has 27 (11/16) points so far this season, which puts him on pace for 96 (39/57) points.  He’s really showing his leadership and silencing his many detractors with plays like this one. 

In the overtime period, the only scoring chance was the aforementioned Ian White chance. 

As expected, Jeff Skinner went first for Carolina in the shootout, and he deked without getting a shot off.  Ovechkin buried his shot against Ward. 
Jussi Jokinen uncharacteristically went straight in and shot instead of deking and juking.  No goal.  Nick Backstrom delayed and was stopped by Ward.
Tuomo Ruutu failed to force the bottom of the third, and the Caps got the extra point.

Carolina will be back in action Monday night when the Stars visit Raleigh.  I’m always a bit on edge when the Hurricanes play the Stars.  There’s been a history of things getting a bit strange on Canes-Stars game night, which I’ve written about here.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, erik+cole, washington+capitals

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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. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.