A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Canes beat caps 4-3 thanks to THREE short-handed goals.

On Friday night, the Hurricanes completed their mini-series against the Caps by winning 4-3 at the MCI... Verizon Center. It was the third time the teams played in a span of five days, and all were decided by one goal.

This game had a different feel to it, but ended up being another breathtaking affair.

The Caps got ahead 1-0 on a power play goal by Jeff Halpern at 13:48 of the first. The ever-pesky Dainius Zubrus had a helping hand, his 29th assist, on the play. AO got his 51st helper.

For the rest of the night, however, the Caps would have preferred to have not had any more power plays. Carolina notched THREE shorties in the game, including two in a 19 second span of the same penalty.

The first goal was credited to Kevyn Adams at 3:47 of the second, with assists to Frantisek Kaberle and AWard. It came from a blistering shot by Kaberle above the left circle which ricocheted around off at least two Caps players and past Kolzig. It is our opinion that Adams never made contact with it, but that's the official ruling for now.

At 4:06, Viva turned a neutral zone turnover into a breakaway goal, going five-hole on Kolzig. That was his 27th goal of the season, and was unassisted.

Baby FaceEric Staal made it 3-1 at 11:45 of the second when he took full advantage of a second whack at a point blank shot. Kolzig had stopped a Doug Weight shot and Staal's first rebound chance, but Staal kept with it for his 44th goal of the season. The power play goal was assisted by Weight and Cory Stillman. Incidentally, it was Stillman who was in the box when Carolina got the first two shorties.

Viva got another short-handed goal at 0:44 of the third after Rod Brind'Amour created a turnover at center ice, leading to a two-on-one. Williams' shot from the left circle clanged off the right post and in. It was his 28th goal of the season, and his second shortie of the game. He already had two shorties and two short-handed assists on the season, so he now sits near the top of the league in that category with six short-handed points.

As the clock wound down, it looked like Carolina would be able to walk away from this game easily. However, it started to get interesting down the stretch. As the Caps were starting to frantically apply pressure in the waning moments, Shaone Morrisonn scored his first goal of the season at 17:08. It was beautifully assisted by the pesky Zubrus (50th) and by Matt Pettinger (17th). Morrisonn crept into the high slot undetected and unabated to one-time the shot past Cam Ward.

At 18:28 Brian Willsie made things really interesting by slapping one home right off the face off. It was his 17th, with yet another helper (31st) to the pesky Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus deserves a lot of credit for that. First, he won the draw cleanly against Rod Brind'Amour, who is the second best faceoff man in the league. He then got a tape-to-tape pass to Willsie, who made it look easy. Kolzig was already gone for the sixth attacker, and he remained gone for the duration.

Justin Williams flirted with a hat trick, but just missed the empty net on a shot from about 80 feet out.

Surprisingly, this isn't the first time a team has scored three shorties in the same game. It isn't even the first time it's happened this season. On February 2 of this year, the Ottawa Senators scored three shorties (including two during one penalty) in a 7-2 romp of Pittsburgh. For the record, though, New Jersey has only scored three shorties all season.

Frantisek Kaberle and Aaron Ward both had to leave the game with injuries. AWard injured his knee after there was incidental knee-to-knee contact with Ivan Majesky. All we know at this point is the typically vague language offered at this point of the season. "Lower body injury". We know he hurt his knee, but we don't know how severely. We were told that it isn't expected to be serious, but we should expect him to sit out tomorrow at Atlanta. Kaberle came up empty trying to deliver a big check, and got a big gash on either his forehead or his nose. It happened very late in the game (just before Willsie's goal) and we never got an update. However, at first view, it looks like a stitch-em-up-and-send-em-back-out type of thing. I hope I'm not wrong.

The win, coupled with Ottawa's loss last night means that the Canes are tied with the Sens with 108 points. The Sens have a game in hand, but they have a rough road ahead, so it might come to pass that Carolina gets the #1 seed in the East.

Up next is a Saturday night tilt with Atlanta, who is still holding onto a slim playoff chance. Puck drop at 7:00.

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