Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/17/09 at 11:35 PM ET
On Saturday, the Hurricanes returned to “The Rock” for the first time since they stunned the Devils with two goals in the last 90 seconds of game 7 to steal the first round of the 2009 playoffs. The Devils in general, and Martin Brodeur specifically, had not been playing well at home, and it was a chance for the Hurricanes to get their two-week road trip off to a good start.
Both goaltenders played very well and Martin Brodeur got the shutout, beating the Canes 2-0 and coming within one shutout of Terry Sawchuk’s 103. He’ll get the spotlight, but Cam Ward also had a very good game that was for naught. Unfortunately for Ward, the Hurricanes record doesn’t indicate how well he’s been playing. If and when the Canes start scoring goals, Ward will get some more ticks in the W column. Everyone knows that the Canes’ losses aren’t because of Ward. Last season, the Hurricanes were shut out only once in the regular season. So far this season, they’ve already been shut out twice in just seven games.
The first two periods were scoreless and pretty uneventful. Andrew Alberts and David Clarkson duked it out midway through the first. Carolina committed one other penalty in the first and one in the second. New Jersey committed one penalty in the second. Neither team scored, and just about the best chance came in the second when Cam Ward made an impossible save on Travis Zajac.
Zajac was coming in from the right wing with pretty good speed all alone on Ward. Cam forced the 2004 first rounder to go across the crease, but it looked for all the world like Zajac was going to lift the puck over the sprawled Ward. Part of Ward’s move, and something that he’s learned from Tommy Barrasso, was to use the knob of his stick as a tool. Zajac couldn’t even get his shot off because Ward poked it away with the knob.
Just 26 seconds into the third, the Devils got on the board with a lunchpail type of goal. There was a lot of action in front of Ward, and he had made a stop on a Devils shot, but Jamie Langenbrunner was there to knock it in from point blank range. The puck may have gone off his body or face or even his right glove, but it went in the net and the Devils had the only offense they needed. The play went under review, and I’m not sure why, but the play was upheld and the Devils’ captain had his second marker of the season. The bottom line is that the Devils came out of the locker room ready to play and the Hurricanes did not.
Midway through the third, after the Canes killed off a lengthy two man disadvantage, they snapped out of their slumber and started to look alive. Unfortunately, Brodeur answered every shot they took, including a few quality shots from Eric Staal.
At 19:20, Travis Zajac scored into an empty net and the Devils got their first home win of the season.
The Canes got Joni Pitkänen back from injury, and he performed quite well. Unfortunately, they lost Aaron Ward in this game to an “upper body concern”. If he can’t go on Wednesday, the Canes will use Jay Harrison, who was scratched tonight.
Other news from the blueline is that Andrew Alberts had another great game. He wasn’t credited with any blocked shots or hits, but as is usually the case, the home team’s statistician wasn’t kind to the visiting team. Alberts did well in his fight, and he also made some good plays on the ice. I’ve been quite impressed by him so far, and I think he’s going to have a lot of fans.
One other bit of great news is that the penalty kill was, for the second game in a row, perfect. In the last four games, they’ve killed 19 of 20 penalties. Coupled with that is the good news that they’ve been more disciplined in the last few games. Unfortunately, they power play is still awful.
Carolina’s road tour has a few off days, and they won’t be in action again until Wednesday on the Island.
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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.