Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/09/11 at 11:31 PM ET
For the fourth time out of five meeting this season, the Hurricanes and Thrashers needed extra hockey to determine a winner. In every previous game, the Canes emerged victorious, and it was Erik Cole who scored the overtime winner twice. This time, the celebration was on the other side, as Tim Stapleton scored the overtime winner for Atlanta. It was the winger’s second goal of the season. The single standings point puts Carolina at 72 points, which ties them with Buffalo, but the Sabres have tiebreakers, so they get eighth place.
This was a game from which Carolina needed to emerge with two points. While there are still 15 games to play, these are the games that they have to win. No questions asked. You have to beat all of the teams below you in the standings and steal some points from the teams above you in the standings. Now they will have to make up for this loss by winning on the road against the Capitals on Friday.
With 21 games to play, I said that the Hurricanes were going to have to treat their remaining schedule as if it was three series of seven games and that they would have to “win” each of those series. After six games of the first “series”, their record is 3-2-1.
In the second “series”, Carolina will have a pretty easy road, and they should hope to win five of those. Home games against Columbus (twelfth in the West), Toronto (tenth in the East), Islanders (fourteenth in the East), Senators (last in the East) and Tampa (fifth in the East). Road games at Buffalo (eighth in the East) and Tampa.
Some fans will say that Carolina should be happy to have gotten a point, since they were down by two goals in the second period. I don’t buy that. At this point in the season against an opponent below them in the standings, Carolina needed to get two points. Of course one point is better than zero, but it’s still not good enough.
Troy Bodie scored his first goal of the season at 11:55 of the second after Toby Enstrom and Robbie Schremp gave the Birds a two-goal lead in the first.
Erik Cole, who had stuck a dagger in the Thrashers three times this season, scored on a nifty breakaway at 12:21 of the third to tie the score.
Carolina had a glorious chance to win it in overtime, but Jussi Jokinen couldn’t finish a two-on-one. Just after that, the Thrashers had an odd-man rush the other way and ended up potting the winner at 1:38 of the extra session.
The Sabres will be in action Thursday night with a home game against the Bruins. The seventh place Rangers are in Anaheim tonight.
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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.