The Hurricanes beat Pittsburgh 7-5 on Saturday night, thanks in part to some outstanding special teams play, and two goals from Erik Cole for the second straight night. However, Cole would be knocked out of the game, and into the hospital by an illegal hit in the third.
The win means Carolina has picked up their 88th point. Tampa lost, which means that the Canes now have a 20 point lead in the Southeast. Ottawa won their game, preventing the Canes from widening their Eastern Conference lead. Detroit won their game, preventing Carolina from widening their lead on the whole of the League.
The game started off like it would be a runaway. Five goals in the second half of the first period. The first three were on special teams. Eric Staal scored his 39th at 9:51 on a power play. Ray Whitney scored his 11th at 11:32, also on a power play. Cole scored his 29th of the season, a shortie, at 13:22. Kevyn Adams was in the box for that goal, and he literally broke out of the box for a breakaway goal, his eleventh goal of the season, at 14:19. That one doesn't count as a special teams goal, but it should. At 18:20, Rod Brind'Amour closed out the first period scoring with a really soft goal for his 24th tally of the year.
In the second, the Canes were outscored 3-1, but Colesy picked up another goal, his 30th.
In the third, the Canes were outscored 2-1, but Cory Stillman cashed in on a power play goal. It was his 16th goal of the season and the 200th of his career.
Erik Cole's two goals were good enough to earn him third star status. Mark Recchi scored a hat trick for the Pens, earning him second star status. Eric Staal, though would get the first star for his four point (1/3) performance. On the season, Staal now has 82 points (39/43).
A very scary thing occurred at 5:18 of the third. Brooks Orpik ran Cole from behind, slamming his body and head into the boards. The live look was obvious enough, but replays clearly indicate that Cole was completely defenseless, and had his back square to Orpik. It's also clear that Orpik had plenty of time to let up, but chose to run Cole into the boards. The officials got the call right, issuing a five minute major and a game misconduct to Orpik. I would think that he'll also get a two game suspension. Cole was able to leave the ice under his own power after laying face down on the ice for several moments. However, he was moving VERY slowly and was visibly in a great deal of pain. He was rushed to a Pittsburgh hospital for evaluation, and at this point, all they're saying is "upper body injury". Initially they were calling it a "neck" injury, but the information is still very limited. Hopefully we won't miss him for too long. I'm sure that it was not Orpik's intent to seriously injure Cole, but he still needs to be held accountable for his actions.
I'm assuming that Andrew Ladd will be recalled from Lowell, and I'm sure he'll do a fine job, but he just isn't Erik Cole.
We REALLY can't afford to lose Cole.
On the bright side, Jo-Va is traveling with the team, and continues to practice with them.
I'll update the Cole situation as the news comes in. For now, my fingers are crossed.
Up next, the Canes continue their long string of road games with a Monday night game at MSG against the Atlantic Division leading Rangers. Jagr v Staal. That should be a great game.
4 years ago