Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/04/10 at 08:36 AM ET
Yes, friends. The goal horn at the RBC Center does work.
The Hurricanes’ last two home games were against the red hot keepers Brent Johnson and Michal Neuvirth. Tonight, they had the prvilege of playing against the struggling Rick DiPietro of the Islanders. On Saturday, he gave up six goals on 29 shots against the Flyers. On Wednesday, he was even worse against Carolina, giving up seven goals on 32 shots. This was just the elixir the Canes needed, as they cured their home woes with a decisive 7-2 win.
Rookie Jeff Skinner was one of six goal scorers for the Canes, and he added one assist. 24-year old rookie Jon Matsumoto, playing in just his second NHL game, scored his first two goals.
The other day, I guessed that Carolina would end its home scoring drought in the first period of this game. They did indeed, with a three goal outburst. There was no more business about hitting posts or running into a ridiculously hot goaltender. It was just the business of giving the fans in the RBC Center a lot to cheer about.
At 10:12 of the first, Joe Corvo got things going for the Hurricanes. DiPietro collided with teammate John Tavares in front of his net, leaving himself down and out of position. From the high slot, Corvo bombed it in with helpers from Skinner and Chad LaRose.
Matsumoto, who led the AHL Adirondack Phantoms (Flyers) last season with 30 goals, got his first NHL goal at 15:48, assisted by Sergei Samsonov and Tom Kostopoulos. The scoring chance came out of nowhere after SerSam put on one of his patented dancing exhibitions. His feed from the right wing was right on the tape of Matsumoto, who crashed the net and tapped it in.
The Captain increased Carolina’s lead to 3-0 when he potted the eventual game-winner at 18:51. At the end of a long shift for Carolina’s fourth line, Eric Staal had just come over the boards for Matsumoto. He accepted Samsonov’s pass above the circles and one-timed it in. Again, it was Samsonov and Kostopoulos with the helpers.
In the first half of the second frame, Carolina had two power plays, but came up empty on them. However, Brandon Sutter potted an even strength goal at 9:40 to make it 4-0. After DiPietro mishandled a lively puck off the end boards, Sutter took it off his stick and deposited it in the net for an unassisted goal.
Jiri Tlusty added to the total, making it 5-0 at 10:23 on a play that was a matter of some controversy. It looked like a bit of an Isles yard sale, with DiPietro and Radek Martinek on the deck and the puck in the net. Martinek gave Sutter a slight shove near the top of the goal crease, pushing him into and knocking down the goaltender. Martinek then dove in attempt to block Tlusty’s shot from the bottom of the left circle. He ended up putting his face in the path of Tlusty’s stick and he had to go to the room for repairs. Even before the puck was in the net, the referee was indicating that the contact between Sutter and DiPietro was incidental, so the goal stood. The assists were marked for defensemen Jay Harrison and Anton Babchuk.
The good times kept rolling for Carolina, or alternately the bad times got worse for the Islanders when the Canes killed off a lengthy two man disadvantage and a double minor late in the second. During the Islanders’ five-on-three, Tim Gleason was especially great.
Cam Ward’s shutout bid ended at 2:12 of the third when Michael Grabner found the back of the net. Doug Weight carried the puck below the goal line, and instead of wrapping around, he reversed it to Grabner in the slot, and he made no mistake from here. Bruno Gervais picked up the secondary assist.
Wunderkind Jeff Skinner notched a power play goal, his fourth marker of the season, at 10:09 of the third. The Canes were moving the puck well and the were spreading the ice. Despite drawing a double-team coverage, Skinner was able to go to the net, take a pass from Staal, and bang it in. His initial bid was stopped by DiPietro, but the goaltender was unable to cover the puck. Skinner poked it in to make it 6-1. The goal gives him ten (4/6) points on the season. This is tops on the Hurricanes, and is tops among all NHL rookies. He’s got to be one of the early favorites for the Calder.
At 15:29, the Isles narrowed the gap to 6-2 with a power play goal from P-A Parenteau. Blake Comeau circled the net and found Parenteau in the low slot for the goal. Robbie Schremp got the secondary helper.
With the final minute winding down, the Canes added one more, just for good measure. Jon Matsumoto rifled one in from the top of the left circle at 19:26, assisted by Sergei Samsonov.
Twelve different players made the scoring ledger for Carolina and six different players had multiple points. Anyone could have been listed among the three stars. Officially, Staal was the first star, followed by Samsonov and Matsumoto.
Odd stat line of the night: Erik Cole of the Canes, who is among the league leaders in the +/- category, finished with a -1 rating. So did Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu.
The Canes will have a back-to-back home-and-home with the Panthers this weekend, starting in Sunrise on Friday.
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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.