Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/29/09 at 01:35 AM ET
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes went to the Prudential Center, where the host Devils had won 11 games in a row. The Hurricanes were on a five game winning streak and the Devils were on a three game losing streak. Carolina got the job done, earning a 2-1 regulation victory and moving oh so close to securing a playoff position.
For the sixth game in a row, the story was Cam Ward. Not the two goals in the third period. Not the great defensive coverage. Cam Ward. Martin Brodeur did make 46 saves compared to just 31 by Ward, but there’s no reason to deny the recent greatness of Ward. He’s allowed just five total goals in his last four starts. In that span, his save percentage is a ridiculous .960 and a GAA of 1.24. His best highlights in this game were in the second period, and they were both against Zach Parise. One was an explosive kick save and a ten-bell diving blocker save. Brodeur will get the accolades for the amount of shots he faced, but Ward kept the Canes in it with his sensational play in the second.
Patrik Elias scored at 18:09 of the first, and for a long while it looked like it would be the only goal of the game in a fantastic goaltending duo. The second period was absolutely thrilling to watch, as both goaltenders made brilliant saves to keep it a one goal game.
Sergei Samsonov broke the ice for Carolina at 13:05 of the third by pounding in a juicy rebound in the low slot. Tuomo Ruutu got the game winner on a power play at 16:22. Eric Staal and Rod Brind’Amour each had one assist and Joe Corvo assisted both tallies.
Although it’s hard to argue with the end result, there were a lot of things that Carolina could have done better. Most glaringly, they were outhit by a wide margin. The Devils had 31 hits to Carolina’s 13. The numbers should have been the other way, especially since New Jersey was the team who played the night before and traveled early in the morning. Also, Carolina had nine blocked shots, which is a little lower than usual. Although Zach Parise was held off the scoresheet, it isn’t as if he was neutralized. He had an eye-popping 14 attempted shots. Two were blocked and three sailed wide, but he still had nine shots on goal. He was robbed twice, and I really think Cam Ward deserves more credit. If for no other reason, then for the fact that he had those two sensational saves against Parise.
Around the Eastern Conference, Carolina didn’t get much help from the other teams. Pittsburgh won. Philadelphia won. Florida won. Buffalo won. Montréal got a standings point. While the Canes took care of their own business and secured their foothold, they weren’t able to gain any ground on the teams in front of or behind them. Still, they’re sitting on 91 points and have done an excellent job of controlling their own destiny. There are five games to play, and the traditional the target for the East is 92 points. I’ve been saying that it’ll take 94. Either way, they’re veryvery
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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.