Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 12/10/09 at 12:33 AM ET
Martin Brodeur had a chance on Wednesday to set a new NHL record for career shutouts. For about 26 minutes of gametime, it looked like it might happen. In the end, though, he earned a 4-2 win and the Devils protected their lead atop the Atlantic division.
Cam Ward was playing for the first time in 32 days, and he looked pretty sharp. He gave up two goals in the first period that were not at all his fault, and one in the second. Late in the second, when the Canes were surging, Ward was really sharp. In the third, the puck was in the other end for most of the period, and he really didn’t have to work much. It was a good first game back for him, and it was a good game overall for the Canes, even if they came out on the wrong end of it.
Andy Greene was the star of the night with two goals including the game winner. On the Canes side of things, Joni Pitkä was quite good, picking up two assists.
I think the statistician took the night off, because it seemed like both goaltenders faced more shots than the official count, and I’m certain that the Canes got more than one hit. The stat of one hit, and my distrust of the official stats makes me think, of course of the great line by Bob Ueker’s character in the movie “Major League”. At the end of the day, though, the only stats that really matter are the goals.
The first goal of the night was a bit of an unlucky break for Cam Ward. At 11:11, Hepatitis Boy was credited with his fourth goal of the season when his shot from the bottom of the right circle went off Aaron Ward’s left skate and into the net. Nic Bergfors and Zach Parise got the helpers.
Greene made it 2-0 at 17:53 on a goal where Rob Niedermayer deserved a lot of credit, but got none on the scoresheet. He was in the goalmouth, setting a screen in front of Cam Ward that made it impossible for the goaltender to see Greene’s shot from the high slot. Jamie Langenbrunner and Jay Pandolfo got the assists, but Niedermayer deserves accolades.
Greene gave the home team a third goal, his fifth of the season, at 6:05 of the middle stanza whilst The Wizard was in the box feeling shame for a high sticking infraction. Zach Parise had the only helper. On this play, Greene had just been completely plastered by Andrew Alberts at the blue line. He got up, went to the net and beat Alberts and Cam Ward for the pretty goal from the bottom of the left circle.
Martin Brodeur had his bid for shutout history ended just 43 seconds after the Greene marker. Brandon Sutter took a shot from the top of the left circle that hit the skates of defenseman Mark Fraser, changed direction, and got past Marty. Joni Pitkänen had the only assist on the goal, timed at 6:48 of the second.
Two minutes later, the Canes found themselves in business when the Finnish Connection struck again. Tuomo Ruutu beat Brodeur with a hard shot from the left dot that was labeled for the top shelf. All three Finns had a hand in this goal, and it was set up beautifully by the stretch pass from Pitkänen to Jussi Jokinen. The power play marker came at 8:46 with Rob Niedermayer serving time for hooking.
The Hurricanes controlled the flow in the third, and it seemed like the puck was in the Devils end for the entire period. Erik Cole had a brilliant chance to tie it when he found himself all alone in front of the net with about three minutes to play. However, Brodeur cut off the shooting angle and the scoring chance evaporated.
Paul Maurice lifted Cam Ward with about a minute to play, and Carolina drew a penalty with just a few seconds left, giving the Canes a 6-on-4 power play. However, Rob Niedermayer scored into the empty net with one second remaining.
This was the second and final trip to The Rock this season. The next time these teams face each other will be February 13 in Raleigh, just before the Olympic break.
Carolina will continue its four game road trip with a game at Washington on Friday night.
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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.