Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/14/10 at 10:33 PM ET
On Thursday, the Hurricanes played their first game of the season on North American soil. They won the two games in Finland, but dropped the game in Ottawa 3-2.
Before the game was three minutes old, Senators netminder Pascal Leclaire had to leave the game with what appeared to be a groin injury. Brian Elliott came on in relief, and got the job done. On the other end of the rink, Cam Ward was great, but a was done in by a late power play goal.
Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov each scored his first goal of the season for the Canes, while Mike Fisher was the man for Ottawa with two goals including the game winner.
Fisher’s first goal came at 17:39 of the first. His shot from the slot hit something down low and took a crazy bounce high in the air. Before anyone knew where it was, it was in the net. There were no assists given.
The first period was statistically controlled by the home team, as they outshot the Canes 16-9 and had the only goal.
The second period featured a couple of power plays for the Canes, but no action on those. In four full minutes of the extra man, the Canes didn’t register any shots. In fact, they only had four for the entire middle stanza. Meanwhile, the Senators added 13 SOG to their total and also scored another goal.
After an anemic power play elapsed, the Sens had a mini-break into the Canes zone which culminated in a goal for left wing Milan Michalek. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson streaked into the zone and Carolina’s defensemen collapsed on the Senator captain in the right circle. This left Michalek all alone in front of the net. Alfie spotted this, made the perfect pass, and Michalek banged it home for the 2-0 lead. Alfredsson and Spezza with the assists at 10:23 of the second.
Carolina found some life in the third, and things gor really interesting pretty quickly. While the goal scorer Michalek was in the box for interference, the Canes broke the ice with a power play goal at 7:20 of the third. Eric Staal was streaking down the left wing and thought about the shot, but instead held it, wrapping around the goal and passing to Sergei Samsonov at the bottom of the right circle. He mis-hit it a bit, but it still got past Elliott. Samsonov was out of the lineup for the Finland games after suffering the scary neck injury in a preseason game at Atlanta. This was a nice way to reenter the lineup. Eric Staal and Joni Pitkanen got the assists.
Just 1:39 later, captain Staal got the equalizer on a really nice give-and-go with Erik Cole. Rookie Jeff Skinner picked up the secondary assist, his second point of the season.
Three minutes later, Jussi Jokinen was guilty of high sticking and was forced to serve a double minor. During the front end of the ensuing shorthanded situation, the Hurricanes generated three scoring chances including a breakaway by Cole, a semi-break by Brandon Sutter, and a flurry of chances by Cole and Skinner. None of these bore fruit, but the Canes PK units continued to play aggressively.
Mike Fisher put the Sens back on top for good at 14:03 with a shot from the high slot that got through Joni Pitkanen and past Cam Ward for the game winning power play marker. Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon had the assists.
Eric Staal had a goal and an assist, which will temporarily quiet the haters. He was also pretty active, which is the more important part. He still needs to work on his faceoff skills, but he was nothing like the invisible man that he was in Finland.
Cam Ward didn’t win the game, but he looked good and earned second star status. I have no doubts about his health or his ability to carry the load. He will not, though, start every game on this five game trip. Every indication has been that Justin Peters will get one of the starts on the four game western swing next week. With back-to-back games in San Jose and Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, I would assume that the Kings game will be Peters’ start.
The next game for Carolina will be Sunday night in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, down on the farm, the Charlotte Checkers will play their first ever AHL home game on Friday night. Canes winger Jiri Tlusty has been sent there on a conditioning assignment, as he is recovering from ACL/MCL surgery. Although he is on a one-way contract, the nature of the assignment allows him to go down without going through waivers. He has two calendar weeks to complete the assignment.
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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.