Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 01/09/11 at 08:01 PM ET
On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes won their second straight game, extending their points streak to seven games. Since Boxing Day, they have earned 12 of 14 points and have kept themselves in position to climb inside the playoff picture.
Since Cam Ward is nursing a minor undisclosed injury, Justin Peters got his second start in a row, and although it was closer than it should have been, he got the two points and the Hurricanes are looking good as they hit the halfway mark of the season.
Although the JET line wasn’t paired togethter today, they were again the stars. Tuomo Ruutu had a goal and an assist, rookie Jeff Skinner got his 14th of the season, and Erik Cole notched the overtime game winner. Cole also was at the center of a controversial play that could have been a goal, but instead he was penalized for interfering with a Thrashers defenseman.
The Canes were off and running at 1:20 of the first when Ruutu finished a great scoring play after receiving Joe Corvo’s pass in the high slot. He wristed it past Ondrej Pavelec for his tenth of the season. Corvo had the only assist on the power play goal.
Nine minutes later, the goal scorer went to the penalty box for cross-checking, and the Thrashers cashed in at 11:46. Bryan Little got the power play marker, assisted by Nik Antropov and Tobias Enstrom.
At 3:57 of the second, Carolina’s Zac Dalpe put the Hurricanes ahead with an even strength goal, assisted by Pat Dwyer and Ruutu.
Jeff Skinner got his 14th goal of the season on another power play to open the lead to 3-1. Joe Corvo’s hard shot from the top of the left circle was blocked, and the rebound went out to Skinner at the top of the right circle. He one-timed it past Pavelec at 5:33. Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain got the secondary assist, and it looked like the Canes were going to run away.
A few minutes later, it looked even more like the beat was on. Erik Cole had an apparent goal at 6:59 taken away when the officials deemed that he interfered with Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Instead of going up 4-1, it stayed 3-1 and the Hurricanes were shorthanded.
With Cole in the box, the Thrashers scored again at 7:57 of the middle frame, and it was suddenly a one-goal game. Niclas Bergfors got the goal, assisted by former Hurricane Andrew Ladd and Enstrom. The call against Cole may have been marginal, but they didn’t kill the penalty and it may have given the Thrashers a free standings point.
Little got the equalising goal at 10:42 of the third, assisted by Anthony Stewart and Johnny Oduya. Suddenly, it looked like the Hurricanes were going to have a reversal of fortune that they’ve enjoyed against the Panthers.
Regulation came to an end with the score still knotted at three, and Carolina’s streak of games with at least one standings point reached seven.
It was only fitting that Erik Cole would be the one to win the game. Sprung by Eric Staal, he broke away from the blue line in, but was stopped by Pavelec. The rebound went out to the bottom of the left circle, where Dustin Byfuglien misplayed it, giving it to Carolina’s Ian White. White found Cole, who found the hole in the goaltender’s equipment. The time of the game-winning goal was 2:09 of the extra period, assisted by White and Staal.
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes couldn’t close the gap on the playoff cut line because the Canadiens won on Saturday night. Carolina is now three points behind them with a game in hand. They’re five points behind seventh place Atlanta with four games in hand against them.
Carolina will stay at home and host the struggling Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. Former Hurricane Tom Kostopoulos has been suspended for six games, so he won’t be on the ice.
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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.