The Carolina Hurricanes’ powerplay went from tying a franchise record for most goals scored in their last game, to being completely ineffective in the 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
The passion, chippiness, and edge that the Canes used to their advantage in dominating the Thrashers the previous night, also disappeared.
The game started out fairly well for Carolina as Trevor Letowski returned a favor to Chad LaRose and fed him the puck as LaRose was cutting toward the Lightning goal. The skater put a nice move on Karri Ramo and found the back of the net, giving the Canes a 1-0 lead late in the first period.
Tampa Bay came back as soon as the second period started. Jussi Jokinen inexplicably skated untouched through the center of Carolina’s penalty kill unit and deked Cam Ward to tie the score. The play reminded me of an earlier game in which the exact same thing happened. A skater went right through the center of the defense and no one picked him up.
About five minutes into the third period, Jeff Halpern skated into the zone and fired what seemed to be a harmless shot on net that just happened to beat Ward on the short side. The Carolina goalie had an excellent game up to that point, but he might want to have that shot back.
This was a weird game in that the Canes out-shot the Lightning in each and every period, including 12-3 in the third, but most were of not high quality shots.
It’s sometimes hard to tell from watching a game on television, but it also seemed like the Hurricanes were lacking the intensity necessary to dominate this game they way they needed to.
In the meantime, the Washington Capitals didn’t seem to have any trouble in winning their game, 3-0 in Sunrise.
With that win, along with Carolina’s loss, cuts the division lead down to just two points and makes the game in Washington on Tuesday night the most important game of the year so far, for both teams.
The Hurricanes would clinch the division with a win, but a loss would force the Canes to win the remainder of their games, if the Caps continue to win as well.
While Carolina certainly remains in the driver’s seat, things could get very dicey in this last week of the season.
Will Caniacs be singing the blues, or will the powerplay come back to life? More intense blogger thought and analysis coming early Monday morning.