On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes beat Tampa 6-4, fortifying their lead in the Southeast division to seven points. After two 5-2 losses, the Canes were able to best the Lightning for the first time this season. They will meet again on Monday night in Tampa.
The first period was furiously paced, with four goals scored in the first nine minutes. It all got started with a Tampa power play goal at 3:36 by Fredrik Modin in close with assists from Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal. At first, the goal was credited to Richards, but it was clear that Modin had the re-direct.
At 6:41, Eric Staal answered with his 23rd goal of the season on a play that was beautifully set up by Erik Cole. Cole fed Staal who hammered at it from the goal mouth, but had to patiently wait for a rebound and a second chance. Sean "wife beater" Burke couldn't stop the second chance. Secondary assist went to Cory Stillman.
With the Canes on the power play, Andrew Hutchinson wristed one in from the top of the right faceoff circle at 8:38. Assists came from Viva and Matt Cullen. A-Hutch spoke recently about how the coaches would like to see him shoot more on the power play. I like those results. I also like the fact that he's that much closer to proving Jes wrong.
Before the dust could settle, Tampa answered right back at the 8:54 mark. Vinny Lacavalier and Rob DiMaio assisted Prospal on a momentum-killing goal to knot it up at two.
At 18:15, Staal probably assured his spot on Team Canada by netting a gorgeous goal, his 24th, that was assisted by Viva and Team Czech hopeful Frank Kaberle. From the bottom of the right faceoff circle, Staal threaded a shot through the legs of defenseman Nolan Pratt. Wife beater never even saw it.
The second period wasn't nearly as frenetic, but there was still plenty of action.
At 7:51, Team USA member Erik Cole made a really nice play to bat a rebound out of mid-air and into the net. Birthday boy Cory Stillman (32 years young today!!!) and Team Russia hopeful Oleg Tverdovsky assisted.
Ryan Craig somehow managed to send it over the line for the Bolts amongst a whole slew of folks for a power play goal at 16:27. Assisted by Evgeny Artyukhin and Martin St. Louis.
As the second frame came to a hectic close, the little guy scored at 19:53 off an offensive zone draw won by Brad Richards. Score tied 4-4. Golbez says that faceoff wins are overrated. The folks at The Puck Stops Here tend to agree with him. Concurring with them is Tom Benjamin. I join James Mirtle in a dissenting view that faceoffs are in fact, extremely important, and perhaps underrated. In this example, if Tampa doesn't win that draw, Carolina sends it down ice, Tampa doesn't score, and the period ends.
In the third, Carolina exerted themselves on the power play, scoring on two of four third period man advantages.
At 3:05, Matt Cullen, who is still hoping to make the USA's Taxi Squad put one in with a helper from Staal. A five-on-three segment had just elapsed, but the Canes still managed to cash in with the five-on-four. Eric Staal made it look easy, carrying the puck behind the goal line and dishing to a wide open Cullen for the finish.
Rounding out the scoring was Viva, on another power play at 12:10. Assisted by Rod Brind'Amour and Tevvy.
All told, the Canes were three of nine on the power play, which is very encouraging.
Another very encouraging thing is that Tevvy had a great game. On the scoresheet, he had two helpers. Not on the scoresheet is that he was absolutely amazing on D. Not just blocked shots, but the less glorious stuff. Denying lanes, breaking up passes and the like.
So, with a game still in hand, the Canes are now seven points ahead of Tampa in the Southeast. After a Friday night game at home against Florida, the going will get rough. The four games between Christmas and New Year's will be at Tampa, at Eastern Conference leader Ottawa, then home games against Philly and Les Habitants.
Andrew Hutchinson was put back on defense, and was apparently no worse for the wear following that rough ride he got at the end of Saturday's game with the Devils. The goal tonight was his first as a Hurricane and his fifth NHL goal in 33 total games. Added to his five assists, he now has six points on the season. I have made improvements to the hot dog with cheese monitor. That picture is my own, taken during our win over the Devils on Saturday. Click the picture to get an enlarged version.
4 years ago