The Hurricanes, who are hurtin' torn and tattered by a recent plague of injuries, came out flat-footed on Sunday afternoon. However, they still managed to skate away with a 4-2 win over the hapless St. Louis Blues, and extend their winning streak to seven games. Prior to the game, the folks from John Deere handed out free hats to the sellout crowd. Roughly 18,000 hats were handed out, but not nearly that many went home.
Before the game, I missed my chance to "hang out" with AWard and Mikey C, both of whom are injured. They were hanging out at the private concession area at the top of my section. Actually, nobody was bothering them at all, so I could've had them to myself. However, my priority was to get beer first. When I turned around, they were gone. Oh well. Honestly, all I would have said would have been "Hey guys, we're really gonna miss you out there. Hurry back!" Anyway....
In the first ten minutes of the game, the Canes allowed two power play goals, digging a relatively deep hole for themselves. Petr Cajanek scored the first just two minutes into the game while CrAdams was in the box for boarding. If not for an exceptionally slow rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, many fans would not have been in their seats to see those early fireworks.
At 10:31, Mike Sillinger scored the second power play goal while Viva was being penalized for roughing. Kevin Dallman had secondary assists on both goals. Dean McAmmond assisted the first and Dallas Drake assisted the second. Fortunately, the Blues were shut down for the remaining two and a half periods.
In the second, the Blues were really undisciplined, and they were made to pay for it. At 5:25, Ray Whitney worked one past Curtis "Don't call me Fred" Sanford on a one-timer, with the only assist coming from Eric Staal. Dallman had taken an interference penalty and Scott Young had taken a simultaneous hooking penalty at 4:41, giving the Canes an instant five-on-three.
Later in the period, the Canes again found themselves with a five-on-three. Dennis Wideman took a hooking penalty at 15:07 and Eric Weinrich, who was on the 1936 US Olympic team, took a tripping penalty at 16:07, giving the Canes exactly one minute of five-on-three. Eric Staal snapped his eight game goal drought by tipping in a Viva shot at 16:33. Cory Stillman got the other assist.
The third period was a little slow-paced, but at 10:34, the Canes took the lead on Staal's second goal. Erik Cole make a completely ridiculous behind-the-back pass to Staal, who took a couple of whacks at it from the goal mouth before finally getting it in. Viva picked up the secondary assist. This goal came just a couple of seconds after a power play had elapsed.
In the final minutes, there was a lot of action, which lead to the Canes being on the long end of a four-on-three for the final 52 seconds. The boys used the open ice to their advantage, and made a concerted effort to get a third goal for Staalsy and a lawn tractor for the lucky fan. It paid off at 19:51 when Staal tipped in his own rebound from the right side of the goal mouth. Cole and Frantisek Kaberle got the helpers. Of course the rain of green hats came down at that point, marking the second time in the last three seasons that a Canes player has recorded a hat trick on hat giveaway night. Jan Hlavac had one against Detroit during the 2002-03 season. My friends swear up and down that Josef Vasicek's hat trick came on hat night in 2003-04, but I don't remember it that way.
If you're paying attention and scoring along at home, Staalsy's hat trick was of the "natural" variety. If I remember correctly, both of Kevyn Adams' hat tricks this season were also of the "natural" variety. I can't be sure about this, but since the natural hat trick is much less commonplace than the garden variety, this might be some sort of record.
With the win, the Canes made a clean sweep of the Central Division, and have closed out their Western Conference play with a 7-2-1 record. The Canes also swept the three game homestand, and have now won seven games in a row. They have not lost a home game in regulation since November 27. They have the best home record by far at 20-4-1. In fact, the Canes have the best record in the league. Period. 30-10-4. However, the idle Senators (30-10-3) have one game in hand on the Canes. At any rate, the Canes have already surpassed their win total from 2003-04 with 38 games remaining.
Up next, a Tuesday night visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
3 years ago