Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/26/10 at 08:28 PM ET
On Black Friday, the Hurricanes played a matinee in Boston and came out of there with a very impressive win. It was arguably their best performance of the season and their first shutout. The 3-0 win snaps a three-game winless streak. It was Cam Ward rather than the glowing hot Tim Thomas who stopped 37 shots to post a shutout.
Rookie Jeff Skinner led the way for the Canes with a goal and an assist. Tuomo Ruutu also had a goal and an assist. Jussi Jokinen scored the other goal. All three goals were power play markers as Carolina was a perfect three-for-three with the man advantage.
All of this against the league’s best penalty kill and the league’s best goaltender.
Just two days after Cam Ward’s wife gave birth to their first child (Nolan Kennedy Ward), the former Conn Smythe winner was back in nets. He didn’t look like the tired dad that he is. He looked like the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner that he is.
Ward made the first of a bunch of spectacular saves when he robbed Nathan Horton of a sure goal midway through the first. Horton had the right side of the net wide open and was parked down low. The goaltender made an explosive move to burst from post-to-post, then flashed his glove just in time to keep the game scoreless. A few minutes later, he made another great save against Horton with a whole crowd of players in the goal mouth area.
With the game clock in the first period winding down, Carolina’s rookie put the visitors on the board with an excellent goal. The Bruins were trying to force the issue and get a shorthanded goal, but a good play by Joni Pitkanen turned a shorthanded two-on-one for the Bruins into a two-on-one the other way for the Canes. Ruutu was coming down the center of the ice, and at the last moment, he made a beautiful pass to Skinner on the right wing. He easily pushed it past Thomas, who, along with the defenseman back, was playing a Ruutu shot. Skinner’s power play marker came at 19:44 of the first and was assisted by Ruutu and defenseman Joe Corvo. The goal proved to be the game winner, and was the first one of those for Skinner.
Tuomo Ruutu made it 2-0 on another power play goal at 11:09 of the middle stanza with a nice tip-in. Newcomer Ian White launched a shot from the blue line, and it was tipped down low by Ruutu. Pitkanen got the secondary helper. There were just a couple of seconds remaining on Carolina’s second power play chance, and they remained perfect in the PP conversions.
With four minutes to play in the second period, Ward made another spectacular save. This one on Bruins hotshot rookie Tyler Seguin. The Bruins had an extra skater on the ice with a delayed penalty in hand, and Seguin had a certain goal robbed from him by Ward. It was a mirror image of the first period save against Horton. That was a game-defining moment and a reminder of how mind-numbingly good Cam Ward can be.
Jussi Jokinen scored his fifth of the season at 7:52 of the third to make it 3-0 and Carolina was a perfect three-for-three on the power play. Eric Staal made a brilliant play to set up the Juice. Staal had been knocked down in the slot. Somehow, from his butt, he found the puck behind him and found a way to send a perfect pass to Jokinen on the right wing. He fired a wrist shot over Thomas’ left shoulder for the 3-0 lead. Staal and Skinner got the assists.
Ward had to make some nice saves and Carolina had to kill two more penalties down the stretch, and in the end, Ward had his first shutout in over a year.
Carolina did everything right and deserved the road win. They’ll hope to do the same thing in the US Capital city. One of the things that won’t show up in the scoresheet is the play of the defense. Newcomer Ian White was particularly good, keeping the Bruins skaters off of Ward’s doorstep. He’s also a good puck-mover, and he earned an assist in the game.
With the two-point night, Skinner has 19 (7/12) points. He’s the youngest and one of the shortest guys in the league, but he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the rookies in terms of offensive production. His maturity is unparalleled, and aside from his looks, you’d never guess that he’s just 18 years old. He’s become a very quick fan favorite for good reason, and he should be a Hurricane for a long, long time.
Carolina will be back in action on Sunday afternoon against the Capitals.
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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.