Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/15/09 at 11:02 PM ET
One night after looking like the worst team in hockey, the Hurricanes came out and got an impressive and crucial road win by shutting out the Sabres 3-0.
Eric Staal was a one-man wrecking crew in the first period. He scored a power play goal by grabbing a puck out of the air, gloving it legally to himself, then firing a shot from the high slot. It hit a Buffalo player on the way in and got past Miller.
Later, with a delayed penalty in hand, Staal worked his way through a trio of matadors and fired a shot from the low slot off Miller. Chad LaRose pounced on the rebound to make it 2-0. Staal had the primary assist and Anton Babchuk got the other.
As bad as Carolina looked in the previous two games, they came out with a ton of jump in the first period and set the tone of the game.
Patrick Lalime took over in nets for the Sabres in the second period, and he looked really good doing so. He hadn’t played in a couple of weeks, but he was razor sharp. He was especially good in stopping a breakaway by Matt Cullen midway through the second. He also got help from his best friend a few times as Sergei Samsonov, Anton Babchuk and (I believe) Matt Cullen all hit heavy metal. Still, Lalime deserves a boatload of credit for coming off the bench and looking sharp.
Justin Williams took a puck off his lower arm, just like Tim Gleason did last night against Columbus. There’s no word on Gleason’s status, but he left the Jackets game late in the first but returned for the rest of the game. I had a really good perspective on it, and it looked for all the world like he had a broken left wrist. Apparently, he traveled behind the team to Buffalo this morning, but didn’t make the lineup. We’ll wait for official word on his status. Frantisek “Waivers” Kaberle started in his stead.
Williams left the game in the first and never returned. The only update that was given was the ubiquitous “upper body injury—will not return”. It was hard to tell watching on teevee, but he was hit by a teammate’s shot somewhere on his arm.
Late in the third, when the game was already in hand, Sergei Samsonov scored a garbage goal, jumping on a puck that had squirted under Lalime’s pads and just between his butt and the goal line. He thought he had it covered, but he clearly didn’t. Tuomo Ruutu and Staal got the helpers.
Brandon Sutter was used very sparingly. To be honest, I never noticed him.
The three point (1/3) night for Staal was his first three pointer since he had three assists against Atlanta on Boxing Day. He’s still not where we need him to be, but he’s got 42 (24/18) points, and he’s played much better since the beginning of December.
Carolina now has 61 points. Obviously, Buffalo is still on 64. There was other good news as Alexander Ovechkin scored a late goal to defeat the Panthers in regulation, keeping them at 64.
On Tuesday night, the Canes will host the East leading Bruins and will send Glen Wesley’s number to the rafters in a pregame ceremony.
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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.