I was able to get away for a couple of hours this afternoon and watched a pretty decent hockey game. The Carolina Hurricanes outlasted the New York Islanders 3 -2, in a tightly defended contest which wasn’t decided until overtime. That makes 2 wins in a row for the Canes and 4 home losses in a row for the New Yorkers.
The first period was scoreless as both teams played somewhat cautiously. The Islanders struck early in the 2nd though as a dumped in puck took a funky bounce off the side glass/boards and ended up right on Andy Hilbert’s stick directly in front of goalie Cam Ward. Hilbert made no mistake as he beat Ward high glove side with a nifty backhander.
Later in the 2nd period, Miro Satan scored the next goal on a slick shot that found an opening as Ward’s vision was blocked by the Czech Condor, Josef Vasicek, who was parked in the crease. That made it 2-0, Islanders.
Early in the 3rd period, the Canes picked up their intensity and kept the puck in the New York zone more often. Rod Brind’Amour was able to get the puck out to Mike Commodore. Commodore then blasted the puck from the blueline, and it seemed to have eyes as it hit a skate and made it past Rick DiPietro, making the score 2-1. Give some credit to Scott Walker as well, who was fighting for position in front of the net.
The next goal was scored because of tremendous effort by Rod Brind’Amour, Erik Cole, and Sergei Samsonov. After cycling, cycling, and cycling some more and making extra effort to keep the puck in the zone, Samsonov finally hit Nic Wallin with a pass and Wallin blasted another long shot past DiPietro, tying the score with about 5 minutes left in the game.
The Hurricanes had yet to earn a powerplay the entire game and were dangerously close to finishing the first game of the year without one, but with just a minute and a half left, Radek Martinek squashed Eric Staal into the boards a bit too dangerously and got a boarding penalty. The Canes were unable to take advantage of the opportunity in regulation but the powerplay carried forward into the extra period.
At the end of the penalty kill for the Islanders during the first minute of overtime, Andy Sutton took a brain-dead penalty and cross checked Rod Brind’Amour, earning another 2 minute minor for the Fishsticks. The Canes capitalized this time as Eric Staal found Cory Stillman at the doorstep and Stillman slapped in the loose change to win the game for Carolina, 3-2.
Brind’Amour finished with 2 assists and Samsonov finished +2.
Cam Ward was in net and not Mike Leighton, as originally reported by Lord Stanley’s Blog. To the fantasy leaguers who come here to check on the starting goalies, sorry about that. Ward played well and had some nice saves, but played the puck very loosely and got lucky a couple of times when he lost control of it.
It looks like Leighton will be sent back to the AHL as John Grahame cleared waivers. That makes more sense than keeping 3 goalies, but I’m not sure why the musical chairs at this point. Leighton gets to play in the AHL All-Star game now, but if he had his druthers he’d probably prefer to stay in Raleigh. Good luck Mike.
The Hurricanes lead the league in 3rd period scoring with 36 goals. If they could just score more often earlier in the contests!
The two teams go at it again tomorrow night at the RBC. More about that later.