Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/20/10 at 03:00 AM ET
On Tuesday night in San Jose, Carolina earned a convincing win against the Sharks by the score of 5-2. They have done in five games what took them 19 games to do last season: win three games.
Eric Staal, who I called out earlier in the day, had a great game with a goal and an assist. Chad LaRose, who has been the invisible man in four games, had a fantastic game with a goal and two assists and was named the first star of the game. Rookie Jeff Skinner had a remarkable game. Cam Ward also had a very good and very important game. The boys looked good in almost every aspect.
Just nine seconds into a Sharks power play, Chad LaRose and Eric Staal burst into the Sharks zone shorthanded with a two-on-one rush. Sharpie dished to Staal, who made no mistake with a wrister from the left dot and the first shorthanded goal of the season at 5:56 of the first. It was Staal’s second goal of the young season and the first point of the season for LaRose. Anton Babchuk got the secondary assist. During the same shorthanded segment, Erik Cole had a good chance, but didn’t find the net.
Erik Cole finally got on the stat ledger for the Hurricanes when he tidied up a scoring chance, tucking a rebound in from just above the crease at 17:35. The whole thing was beautifully set up when Jeff Skinner showed off his skillz, creating something out of nothing with a wrap chance through heavy traffic. His attempt was cleaned up by Niemi, and the rebound went out to Tim Gleason in the high slot. His chance was tapped in by Cole.
Patty Dwyer gave the Canes a 3-0 lead at 2:43 of the middle stanza. Carolina kept doing what brought them success in the first: attack aggressively. Sharpie slid a pass across the high slot to Jussi Jokinen, who fired away from the top of the left circle. The shot was answered by Niemi, but the lively rebound went out to Dwyer in the slot, and he wristed it top shelf for his first marker of the season. It turned out to be the game winner.
Patrick Marleau answered back for the home team at 6:34 with a tip-in from down low. Dan Boyle fired a shot from the right circle inside hashmarks, which would have beaten Cam Ward anyway, but Marleau just barely got his twig on it to get credit for the goal. Joe Thornton got the secondary helper.
Barely two minutes later, at 8:46, Marleau cut the lead to one with a nifty shot from the very bottom of the left circle, slipping it in a postage stamp-sized gap between Cam Ward’s right arm and the left post. It was a power play goal assisted by Devin Setoguchi and defenseman Douglas Murray.
A couple of minutes into the third, there was a lengthy skirmish behind the Sharks goal after the whistle. Jeff Skinner was getting pushed around by multiple sharks, and before too long, everybody was shoving everybody around. Matching penalties and a four-on-four ensued.
Eric Staal forced a turnover deep in the zone and fed Sharpie at the goal mouth for an easy goal at 2:11 to make it 4-2. It was Carolina’s first four-on-four goal of the season.
Joni Pitkanen shot a laser beam from the top of the left circle at 7:05 of the third. Jamie McBain set up the whole play bringing it into the zone. Tom Kostopoulos left a nifty drop pass for the big Finn, who ripped it past his countryman Niemi to give the visitors a comfortable three goal cushion.
This is how the game ended. 5-2 Canes. A very encouraging and very dominant win against a quality opponent. Cam Ward was very sharp in the win and will give coach Paul Maurice reason to consider starting him in back-to-back games. Justin Peters was scheduled to get a start during this trip, but Ward is simply en fuego, and there’s no reason to fix something that ain’t broke. Maybe Saturday in Phoenix.
I can never say enough about good things about Chad LaRose. Whenever he has a great night, it makes me feel like a proud papa. After Kevyn Adams ended his Canes tenure, Sharpie took over as the “energy” guy and the specialty teams guy. He’s excelled in the specialty teams role, especially on the penalty kill. He’s also become a big-time fan favorite, and he deserves every bit of it.
The Canes will be back in action on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
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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.