Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/21/09 at 11:57 PM ET
Carolina extended their streak of earning points to five games with an impressive 3-1 win over the visiting Bolts. It was only the second regulation win of the season for Carolina and it snapped a streak of four straight overtime games and three straight shootouts.
Brandon Sutter had a four game point streak snapped, but still played a good game. Jussi Jokinen extended his points streak to four games with the game-winning goal. In the past four games he has three goals and an assist.
Manny Legace played with confidence, played well, and had the guys in front of him play well. It was probably the most complete game this team has played all season.
Marty St. Louis tapped in a Kurtis Foster shot at 15:18 of the first. The power play goal was the only one of the game for the Lightning. The Canes killed off each of the remaining three power plays, and there were really very few scoring chances from the Bolts for the rest of the game. Legace faced nine shots in the first frame, and only 12 in the remainder of the game.
Tuomo Ruutu equalized the score with a power play goal at 2:35, and at 13:45, Jussi Jokinen tapped in a Joe Corvo point shot. It ended up being the game winner.
Chad Larose, who had only registered five assists (including one on the Jokinen goal) and no goals on the season, finally got the monkey off his back with a laser beam from the top of the right circle at 15:37 of the third. In each of the last four seasons, LaRose has finished with 12 assists, and he’s on pace to smash that. However, he’s taken a long time to get that first goal. He’s had a tendency to be a streaky player and to score goals in bunches, so this might be the start of a four or five game explosion. He’s hit a lot of posts and crossbars, and he’s been robbed a few times, and it was really nice to finally see him get one.
Joe Corvo played a very solid game, doing all the right things defensively and picking up two assists to boot. He could easily have been named one of the stars of the game, but they went to Legace, Ruutu and LaRose.
Also, Joni Pitkänen returned from injury to log more than 23 minutes of ice time. Nic Wallin, who has been vilified by some Canes fans, played a very good game. This was just the second game all season in which the Canes started the game with all of their top six defensemen in the lineup, and it was the only game in which all six finished the game. The Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t using “injured defensemen” as an excuse, and it wouldn’t be fair for the Canes to, but that’s one thing that’s slowed them down this season.
It was very nice to see a game where the goaltender didn’t have to earn his paycheck. In a hilarious post-game interview, he explained that it was a great game to watch and he had a good front row seat. I never knew much about Legace before he got here, but now we’re seeing that he’s a very modest guy with a terrific sense of humor. There really haven’t been many smiles or jokes in any of the post-game interviews this season, and it was really nice to see that. I’m hoping to see more of that and more of Legace’s relaxed, cool character.
Now that the Canes have won three of their last four and earned eight of the available ten points in the last five, they’ll go on a short road trip with some confidence. On Monday, they’ll take on the Dallas Stars, who will be without leading scorer James Neal. Neal has 22 (11/11) points, and is sitting out a two game suspension for hitting Derek Dorsett of the Blue Jackets from behind. After that, the Canes will go to Anaheim on Wednesday for their only game in California this season.
Eric Staal is very close to being ready to rejoin the team on the ice. Cam Ward is scheduled to return in two weeks. Of course there will be a decision to make once Ward returns, but right now isn’t the time to worry about that. Right now, Canes fans can enjoy the way the team played tonight and be proud of the eight out of the last ten available points earned. The players and coaches finally have something to build upon.
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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.