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

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Canes fall to Thrash 5-2

On Saturday, the Canes missed a golden opportunity.

Buffalo destroyed the limping Senators 6-2, and Carolina had a good chance to move into sole possession of first place in the East. However, they were very flat in the first period and Atlanta took advantage by scoring three early goals. The Hurricanes looked better in the second and third, but they were already in too deep of a hole. Each time the Canes scored, and it looked like they had life, the Thrash would answer right back, maintaining a three goal cushion.

I don't have a lot to say about the game.
Although Nic Wallin rejoined the lineup and AWard played despite being injured on Friday, we lost the services of Cory Stillman, who didn't even dress for the game. Frantisek Kaberle sat this one out after taking more than a dozen stitches to close cuts on his forehead and upper lip. Actually, the team couldn't leave Washington for several hours last night because they were waiting for Frankie to get sewed up. As a result, they got to Atlanta much later than expected and had no time for a morning skate.

Despite giving up five goals, Martin Gerber actually looked great. He had absolutely no help in front of him in the first period. During that stanza, the blue line looked pretty slow and the team only managed three shots on Atlanta's net.

There was some good that came out of the game despite losing. They were the better disciplined team, allowing Atlanta just four power plays. On the other side, the Canes were able to convert two of their five power plays. This is something that's been a little weak lately.

Justin "Viva" Williams was again the star of the Canes show. He scored both goals (both power play), giving him a total of 30 for the season. With his 45 helpers, he has 75 points. This is far and away his best NHL season, and I think his star will continue to rise. I can't find the quote anywhere, but I swear I read a quote somewhere in the preseason where he said "This is the season that everyone will know my name". I think they do.

By scoring his 30th goal, he joins Eric Staal (44), Erik Cole (30) and Rod Brind'Amour (30) in the 30-goal club. Not even Ottawa can boast four 30-goal scorers. In fact, most teams have only one, and just a few have two.

Not only did the loss prevent the canes from moving into first place in the East, but they are now all but eliminated from the race for the President's Trophy. Their only hope is to run the table and to have Detroit lose their five remaining games while Ottawa loses at least one. This would result in a 116 point tie. Carolina would win the tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head win over Detroit. Actually, in the above scenario, Carolina would have more total wins anyway (55 to 54).

So Atlanta kept their slim playoff hopes alive. They were helped a little bit when Montréal lost their game, but Tampa wouldn't play ball. They won their game. The Thrash are now six points out of eighth place with five games to play. They will need to be perfect, and they will need some help.

Carolina has two days off, and has just four games remaining. Three of those four will be in the RBC Center.

On Monday, we will be watching Ottawa-Montréal very closely. I can't decide what I want to happen, but it has huge playoff implications. The result will likely shake up both the top two and the bottom two seeds in the East.

Tuesday night, the Canes will be hosting the Devils. Puck drop at 7:00.

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