After a disappointing road loss to the Washington Capitals, the Canes were able to get back on track with a 7-3 dismantling of the Canadiens on Monday night.
Since I didn't already write about it... The game on Saturday truly was a disappointment. We drove up there in hopes of watching our boys make it ten in a row, but they just couldn't get it done. Even while doing a fairly decent job of keeping Alex Ovechkin in check, they couldn't do anything to help their own cause. The Canes were given nine power play chances, including two lengthy five-on-three segments, but they couldn't solve Kolzig until it was too late. The word on the street is that Kolzig wasn't feeling well, and was vomiting between periods, but still felt good enough to shut the Canes down. I won't give a full recap, but the Canes highlight was that Erik Cole converted a penalty shot. It was his fourth penalty shot on the season, and his second success. Also, we had a new guy who did a pretty good job. We traded Danny "Harry Potter" Richmond plus a pick to Chicago for Anton Babchuk and a pick. In his limited ice time, he did well. Also, my posse made it on TV. There were actually a lot of other Canes fans there as well.
Monday night's game was much better. A very solid all-around effort by the entire team. One indicator of that is that seven different players had one goal, and nine different players had at least one assist.
Getting in the mix was Keith Aucoin, who was called up from Lowell and tallied an assist in his first NHL game. He had an excellent scoring chance denied when he was flat-out tackled as he attempted a point-blank shot on Cristobal Huet. With the delayed penalty in hand, Erik Cole scored from an impossible angle to give the Canes a 7-2 lead at 17:35 of the third.
Here's a quick rundown on the Canes scoring:
Bret Hedican surprised Theodore at 7:26 of the first with a shot from the top of the left circle that beat him glove side. Theodore never saw it, and it would be the beginning of a very long night for him. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose and Matt Cullen got the assists.
At 17:15, CrAdams made it 2-0 with a gorgeous feed from Kevyn Adams. Kevyn went behind the net and dished it to Craig at the bottom of the right circle. The shot went five-hole, and Theodore thought he had it squeezed between the pads, However, the puck rattled around in there, and found its way through. Frantisek Kaberle got the second assist.
Habs made it 2-1 at 2:23 of the second on a breakaway on which two Canes had collided, giving Montreal a de facto five-on-three.
Matt Cullen got an easy one at 6:08 of the second to make it 3-1. The Canes were on a five-on-three, and a Canadien defenseman had broken his stick, so it was kinda like a five-on-two. Ray Whitney noticed the five-on-two and set Eric Staal up for a one-timer from the high slot. Cullen tipped it out front to get credit for the goal. Staal and Whitney got the helpers.
While the Canes were still enjoying a power play, Staal got his own goal at 6:56. It was an incredible display of strength. He was coming through the slot and had to fight off a poke-check that would have taken him off the puck last season. Instead he kept the puck, kept his footing and wristed one past Theodore. Cole and Viva got the assists.
Less than two minutes later, at 8:45, Andrew Ladd chased Jose Theodore with his sixth goal of the season, tipping one in through heavy traffic on the doorstep. 5-1 Canes. Ladd wobbled but didn't fall down as the Habs were beating him up in there. It showed excellent composure and skill to finish the play under such duress. I've been quite impressed with him. Six goals in only 11 NHL games. Kaberle and Viva got the helpers. Jose Theodore was then pulled in favor of Cristobal Huet. It was the second game in a row for that scenario.
Viva got a goal of his own at 3:40 of the third to make it 6-1. Andrew Ladd left a drop pass for him at the bottom of the left circle, and he whistled it past Huet's head, top shelf. Another one where he never even saw it.
The Habs got a power play goal at 16:19 to make it 6-2.
Erik Cole wrapped up the Canes scoring at 17:28 on a play where Keith Aucoin really should have scored. He was all alone out front with what would have been an excellent scoring chance until he was spun around and literally tackled by Mathieu Dandenault. I'm sure a penalty shot would have been awarded, and the arm was up, but it didn't matter when Erik Cole picked up the loose change at the top of Huet's trapezoid and put it into what was essentially an empty net. Keith Aucoin got his first NHL assist on the play and Eric Staal got the secondary assist.
A meaningless goal was scored by Montreal at 19:21 to make the final 7-3 count.
Keith Aucoin is good. I made the mistake of referring to him as "schmuck" once. I thought of him as nothing more than Lowell filler, which is why the "schmuck" comment, but he showed a lot of promise Monday night. He's got good hands, decent wheels, and tried some pretty creative stuff.
Anton Babchuk is quite good. Heather Creegan might think that Danny Richmond for Anton Babchuk is a bad trade, but I'm liking what I've seen in two games. Danny was offering the Canes a little bit of ill-advised toughness and some suspect defense. I've only seen Babchuk twice, but his defense is much better than that of Richmond, and he's got one of those "heavy shots" that the kids are going apey over these days. And as a point of reference, according to information obtained by the Canes TV guy, Babchuk prefers the "anglo" Baab-CHOOK pronunciation rather than the actual Russian pronunciation. Gðlbez hates it, but some players are like that. Anyway, we of section 112, row J of the RBC Center, will be calling him "Babs" or "Yentl". If you need help figuring that one out, use imdb.com.
Up next: Wednesday at Florida
3 years ago