Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/05/10 at 01:07 AM ET
On Thursday night, the new-look Carolina Hurricanes took to the ice with a very different team, but the result was the same. A win. They defeated Matt Cullen and the visiting Ottawa Senators 4-1 to earn their seventh straight win. Remarkably, they remain in the playoff hunt, and they’ve turned from the league’s worst team to the league’s hottest team.
Manny Legace made 25 saves and was the game’s first star. Newly recalled Zach Boychuk pitched in two assists. The newly acquired Brian Pothier dished out three hits and five blocked shots. The Canes got goals from Tom Kostopoulos, Rod Brind’Amour, Chad LaRose and an empty netter from Brandon Sutter. Matt Cullen notched his first goal as a Sen.
Pascal Leclaire started the game in nets for the Sens, but gave up two goals on the first five shots he faced. After giving up goals to Tom Kostopoulos at 5:18 and Rod Brind’Amour at 6:23, he was lifted in favor of Brian Elliott. On each of the first two goals, Zach Boychuk had an assist. Brett Carson, who was also recently recalled from Albany, got an assist on the Brindy goal.
In the second period, Chad LaRose banged in the rebound of an Eric Staal shot for his fifth goal of the season and his second in as many games. Staal had two or three whacks at a puck down low and Elliott kept spitting out rebounds. Finally, Sharpie banged it in to give the Canes a 3-0 lead at 15:50 of the middle frame. Staal and Tuomo Ruutu got the assists.
Matt Cullen, in his first visit to Raleigh since being traded to the Sens just before the break, scored his thirteenth goal of the season and his first as a Sen at 11:55 of the third after some hard work down around the goal line. Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher got the assists.
With the Sens down two goals, Brian Elliott left early for an extra attacker, and Brandon Sutter scored into the empty net at 18:12 of the third. That’s the 16th marker of the season for Sutter, which is beyond just about anyone’s expectations.
Although word came today that Cam Ward might return at some point this season, I don’t really see the point. Unless, of course, the Canes can play themselves into serious playoff contention. Manny Legace has done quite well in a very limited role as Cam’s backup and will now most likely be the 1A guy for the rest of the season. Justin Peters, who is 3-0-0 will be the 1B guy.
Hopefully, other teams have taken note of Legace’s quality play and someone will give him a chance next fall. It seems like the Hurricanes will use Peters as their #2 guy next season and they’ll be forced to say goodbye to a really good guy in Legace.
Carolina will now embark on a three game road trip through the Southeast Division. If they continue their winning ways and get a little bit of additional outside help, they could find themselves just a few points outside the playoff hunt by the end of the trip. It’s crazy, I know. First, they play Florida in Sunrise on Saturday night, then in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. Finally, they’ll play the League-leading Capitals in Washington on Wednesday of next week.
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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.