Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/04/09 at 12:36 AM ET
On Sunday night, the Hurricanes played a much better game than they did on Thursday. In the end, the score was 3-0. The series is now tied at one and has become a best of five series where Carolina has the home ice advantage.
Cam Ward was absolutely on fire, completing his fourth career postseason shutout. Eric Staal decided to take things into his own hands, and as I said before, things can get ugly when that happens.
Now, it would be crazy for Carolina to break their arms patting themselves on the back. Carolina was indeed very good tonight, but the fact of the matter is that the Bruins were sloppy. At times, they were flat out bad. They looked like they were at McGreevy’s getting hammered until the wee hours this morning. If that’s indeed the case, a special thanks goes to their wonderful bartender Amanda.
The first period was scoreless, but it was obvious that something was different. Carolina wasn’t allowing the Bruins to transition turnovers into odd-man rushes. Carolina was forcing Boston to commit their own turnovers in neutral ice. Carolina was aggressive on the forecheck. For the first time in six postseason games, the Bruins failed to score in the first period.
In period two, things fell apart for the home team. They committed a really bad neutral zone turnover and followed that with a sloppy line change which allowed Joseph Corvo to put Carolina on the board. His shot from the top of the left circle at 2:30 became only the second blueline goal of the postseason for the Canes. Eric Staal got the primary assist, and Erik Cole got the second. As I wrote earlier today, Cole hadn’t registered a postseason point in the last 21 games, going all the way back to May of 2002.
Four minutes later, Joni Pitkänen went off for elbowing, and the Bruins had their first power play opportunity of the game and a terrific chance to even the score. One minute into the man advantage, however, disaster struck. A Bruins player lofted a lazy pass through the neutral zone, but Chad LaRose snared it and went off to the races. He had an excellent wrap-around chance that Thomas denied, but Matt Cullen banged it in from the left circle to give the Canes a 2-0 lead. It was Carolina’s first shortie of the postseason, and only the third league-wide. This play was 100% Sharpie. Later in the period, he was almost even more heroic, but setting up a shorthanded playoff goal is pretty cool as is.
Dennis Seidenberg was sent off for holding at 17:49, and the Hurricanes manufactured some shorthanded chances on that disadvantage as well. They successfully killed the penalty, and with the last seconds ticking off the clock, Seidenberg fired a bomb from center ice that looked like one of those period killing plays. Tim Thomas fended off the shot and the Bruins didn’t bother playing all the way to the horn. Sharpie did. He pounced on the rebound in the left circle and fired a shot off the right post. The game was halted to review the play, which was deemed on-ice as no goal.
During an extremely long review, I couldn’t help but think that I’d seen that exact same play before. I had. It was 1980, Lake Placid. Miracle on Ice. In the waning seconds of the first with the USSR leading 2-1, Dave Christian fired a shot from center ice with about 3 seconds left. Tretiak made a save, but his teammates didn’t play to the buzzer. Mark Johnson pounced on the rebound and put it just inside the right post to tie it at 2. Okay. That’s enough history. Back to 2009…
The initial replay looked like the “no goal” call was correct. The puck hit the crossbar, then danced on edge along the goal line. More and more replays showed that it was probably just over the line, but only because it was on edge. A high-definition enlargement, which Versus has time to build, but the Situation Room does not, indicated that there probably was about a millimeter of white space between the puck and the goal line, but the evidence available to them after several minutes of review wasn’t good enough to overturn the call. So it stood 2-0. Perhaps a slight momentum swing for the Bruins.
Ninety seconds into the third stanza, the Bruins committed their only penalty of the game, but it didn’t hurt them.
The “no goal” call and the second intermission didn’t do the Bruins a whole lot of good. They still looked lethargic or hung over or something. Loads and loads of turnovers. Carolina finished the game with eight takeaways compared to just one for the Bruins.
One thing that made this game very different from game one is the way Eric Staal played. The Versus crew kept commenting about it, and the biggest adjustment he made is that he found a way to make Zdeno Chara’s size a disadvantage to him. Staal went behind Thomas’ net a lot. He played the puck off the back of the net, he had lots of wrap chances. He went to tight areas where Chara wouldn’t be able to follow. And it paid off.
Carolina killed off two late period penalties, including one where the Bruins pulled the goalie to make it a six on four advantage. After that penalty was killed off, Joe Corvo made a really smart play to find Staal with an indirect pass and Staal found the empty net. 3-0.
Cam Ward had to be spectacular in the third period, especially during Tim Gleason’s penalty for delay of game at 12:15. He made a series of really amazing saves during that sequence. At the final horn, he had 36 saves and his second shutout of this playoff season. He now has four career playoff shutouts and 20 total playoff wins.
Eric Staal had a goal and an assist, giving him nine (6/3) points in nine playoff games. In his career, he now has 37 (15/22) points in 34 post-season contests. On the franchise registry, he has now passed Kevin Dineen, who had 31 (17/14) points in 44 postseason games. He has also passed Rod Brind’Amour, who is stalled at 34 (17/17) points in 63 postseason contests. He’s on the brink of passing some dude named Ron Francis, who had 39 (14/25) points in 62 postseason games with the franchise. He will then be the franchise’s most prolific postseason scorer.
Staal is very much earning the contract extension that he was given, and I think it’s time next season to give him a different letter on the front of his sweater.
Chad LaRose worked extremely hard in this game, and he should have had that late goal in the second. He settled for a one point game, which gives him eight for the postseason.
Carolina will head for home late tonight, where they will be met at the airport by a throng of crazy fans, even if it ends up being three in the morning.
Like the Devils series, this one has a two day layover between games two and three. I think both teams would prefer to go ahead and play on Monday afternoon. Game three will be Wednesday night at the RBC Center with a 7:30 drop.
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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.