On New Year's Eve, the Hurricanes defeated the visiting Canadiens 5-3 in front of a nearly packed house. Although this is Martin Gerber's first season with the Canes, he is not unaccustomed to winning games here on New Year's Eve. His Ducks won here on December 31, 2003.
This was the fourth season of the last five with a New Year's Eve game at the RBC center, including the last three seasons in a row. This win puts Carolina at 2-2 on such games. The last time Carolina won on New Year's Eve was a 5-4 victory at Buffalo in 2001-02. The last time they won such a game at home was a 2-1 victory over Chicago in 2000-01. In 20002-03, the Canes were shut out 2-0 by the Rangers, and last season, the Ducks beat Carolina 3-1 with Martin Gerber between the pipes.
For the third straight game, Eric Staal was kept off the scoresheet. I'm beginning to worry about him a little, but I know he'll get back on track soon. In last night's game, he was in a situation that looked like there should have been a penalty shot awarded, but replays showed that the defending player, who took him down on a breakaway, actually played the puck first. Seconds later, the Canes gave up a game-tying goal.
Early in the third, Carolina had a Matt Cullen goal disallowed, much to the bewilderment of the crowd. There was heavy traffic out front, and a Ray Whitney shot pinballed around a little, and deflected off Cullen's skate into the goal. Toronto ruled it a kick -- no goal. The rest of the period was a little chaotic. Carolina forged ahead with a Cory Stillman redirect of an Oleg Tverdovsky blast from the right point. Minutes later, Michael Ryder was awarded a penalty shot which completely infuriated the crowd. I'm honestly surprised that no objects were thrown onto the ice. Gerber calmly turned away the PS, but only five seconds later, Montreal got a goal to tie it up.
At 18:08, though, Erik Cole broke down the left side, centered one to Brind'Amour, who was able to put it past Theodore for his second goal of the night. With the extra attacker on for the Canadiens, we had one shot sail wide, one off the right post, and then AWard bombed one in from the center red line with two tenths of a second remaining.
The win means that Carolina has earned their 52nd point after 38 games. For comparison's sake, Carolina didn't earn their 52nd point until February 23 (game #61) in 2003-04. It is also their 24th win, which the Canes couldn't do until March 16 (game #71) that season.
Cory Stillman has points in eight straight games, and is creeping his way into the league leaders in assists and points.
Up next: a Wednesday night home game against the Thrashers.
3 years ago