On Thursday night, the Hurricanes won their ninth straight game for the second time this season. Although they beat the Islanders 4-3, they looked terrible in doing it. They had way too many turnovers, too many penalties, and the defense looked horrible. However, I need to cut them some slack in that department. With AWard and Wesley still out, Mikey C skating through injury and Hedican sitting this one out, that left the blue line kind of thin.
Good news (other than the win). Rod Brind'Amour won 75% (!!!) of his faceoffs (21/28). The boys kept it going, improving their already league best home record to 21-4-1. Another remarkable stat that was improved is that the boys are now 18-0 when leading after two periods. Yet another is that the Canes are now 22-1-0 when scoring first. The Canes converted one of their two power plays, and killed all seven of their penalties, including a huge five-on-three in the first.
We sort of expected some fireworks in this game, as it was the Islanders first visit since Eric Godard suckerpunched Viva on January 6. Although Godard wasn't penalized on the play, he was suspended for two games by the league, and he earned "public enemy #1" status around here. We had Boulerice out on the ice, and the two shared the ice a few times, but Jesse never went after him.
The scoring got started in a strange fashion. Viva put on a skating clinic, and he fed Brindy in the slot, who wristed one on goal. It clanged off the crossbar, and straight down. Everyone was just standing there, so Andrew Ladd shoved it into the open net from the side of the crease at 5:43 of the first. I suppose everyone assumed that Brindy's shot was in because they were literally motionless, but Ladd did the right thing to shove it in anyway. It was the rookie's fifth goal of the season in only nine appearances.
Less than a minute later, before the PA announcement was made, Aaron Asham scored at 6:25, with assists from Jason Blake and Bruno Gervais. After Blake did a little skating drill, he backhanded a pass to Asham in the slot, who made it look easy from there.
At 16:00, Brind'Amour patiently found Matt Cullen standing alone at the inside edge of the left faceoff circle, who wristed it in from there. Viva got the secondary assist.
Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek, who was being given a really hard time by Jesse Boulerice, scored his first goal of the season at 9:27 with assists from Jeff Hamilton and Godard. On the play, he simply made Craig Adams and Kevyn Adams look silly. He also did a really good job of being extremely patient with his shot.
Ray Whitney apparently gave the Canes a 3-2 lead on a power play goal at 19:34, but the referee ruled that Kevyn Adams interfered with Rick DiPietro. However, Kevyn would get redemption just a few seconds later, as he was credited with a redirection of a Mikey Commodore wrist shot from the point. The goal came even strength at 19:54, and the secondary assist was Craig Adams. Actually, I looked at the replay several times, and I just don't see Adams tipping it, but a goal is a goal.
At 12:20 of the third came an absolutely beautiful goal from the Eric/k connection. Erik Cole had the puck just inside the Carolina zone, and saw Staal one-on-one at center ice. From the point, he sent an absolutely perfect pass to the streaking Staal, who was just barely on-side. Staal came in all alone and easily beat DiPietro on the blocker side to make it 4-2. That's Staal's 30th goal, and his 61st point of the season. It pains me to mention these two players in the same breath, but the last time Carolina had a 30-goal scorer was 2002-03, and it was Jeff O'Neill. O'Neill finished the season with the exact same stats that Staal has through 46 games. Oh. Except that Jeff was a -21 that year, and Eric is a +2 so far this year.
Mark Parrish finished a really pretty play at 16:59, to make the score 4-3. He was the toe to Shawn Bates' tac and Oleg Kvasha's tic as they came in on an odd-man rush.
The Canes were outshot 39-25, and were by far the less disciplined team, but they still managed to skate away with the win, their ninth in a row, tying the franchise record set earlier this season.
Up next, a Saturday night matchup with the Caps. I'll be there at the MCI Center to watch us make it 10 in a row!
4 years ago