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

Monday, May 01, 2006

Canes win 2-1, lead series 3-2

On Sunday night, with a standing-room only crowd on hand, the Hurricanes became the first home team to win a game in this series. In defeating the Habs 2-1, they took a controlling 3-2 lead in the series. The Habs will try to stave off elimination on Tuesday night at the Bell Center, where the Canes have won four consecutive times. They have also won four straight playoff games at the Molson/Bell Center dating back to 2002.
The Canes played sound hockey for the majority of the game, and it was surely their best all-round performance of this young playoff season. I simply cannot say enough good things about the dazzling play of Cam Ward in the Carolina net. Carolina didn't make many mistakes tonight, but when they did, Wardo bailed them out. I wish I had enough time and enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe his performance. Not just tonight, but all throughout.

Defensively, Carolina was solid. Bret Hedican had a a few lapses, but for the most part, they did everything right. Probably the most important thing that they did tonight is that they did a superb job of clearing the zone on penalty kills. They never allowed the Canadiens to set up shop on the power play. They were more aggressive, more patient, and just better.

Offensively, they missed a bundle of chances to open the game wide, but fortunately two goals was enough to get the job done. Both tallies came via the power play, which is very satisfying.

Staalsy got his second goal of the second season at 4:27 of the first on a blast from the point, near the corresponding spot where he got the game winner on Wednesday. Stillman and Brind'Amour got helpers on the goal.

At 13:57 of the second, Matt Cullen got his third tally of the playoffs with a similar long range blast. Doug Weight and Frantisek Kaberle helped.

With just 28 seconds to play in the middle stanza, Alex Kovalev erased any hope of a shutout when he found the net. Sheldon Souray got the only assist.

Once again, Cam Ward was the big story. The unproven, unheralded backup goalie wasn't expected to play at all in this series. He hasn't just "filled in". He's stolen the job from Martin Gerber. I was kind of noticing, and my friend Andy also pointed out that Gerber was pouting a little over on the bench, and lagging behind in the pre-game skate. I don't know if he's still not feeling well, or if he's going all Arturs Irbe on us, or a combination of both. I still think we'll see Gerber again at some point. It just won't be on Tuesday night.

In the above photo, which I took at tonight's game, observe two things. One. Just what in the hell is Frantisek Kaberle doing to Mark Recchi? Two. Observe Kerry "Aqua Net" Fraser at the top of the picture. This is one of the last times you'll see him without a helmet. As part of the new agreement between the Referees Association and the League, ALL officials will be required to wear helmets beginning in 2006-07. Further, any newbies will be required to wear visors. There's still one other ref in the league (I can't remember who) who doesn't wear the lid. Fraser and that guy have been around forever, and are grandfathered out of wearing the headgear for now.

On Tuesday, Carolina will have a chance to eliminate Les Habitants on the road. This would surely lead to the restoration of a Canes playoff tradition: there will probably be hundreds of Caniacs waiting for them at the airport. This started in 2002, and since the Canes clinched all three series on the road that year, there was always a celebration waiting for them when they flew home at two, three in the morning. With each series victory, the celebration, and the welcoming party got larger until there were finally thousands awaiting them when they flew home from Toronto with the Prince of Wales in hand.

Puck drop on Tuesday will be 7:00.

5 comments:

The Acid Queen said...

There were also several hundred people welcoming the guys home from Hell err Detroit after Game 5--I know, because I was one of them (and I was one of the original 21 people that welcomed the Canes home from ECQF Game Five in 2001, too).

As for Tinu, I think that he'll be okay--he wants to play, so I wouldn't read too much in to his facial expressions on the bench. I also think that the chances are good that he'll play later on,.

Assuming, of course, that we get out of this series. *knocks on wood, tosses salt over shoulder, bangs pots and pans*

Bill Purdy said...

Hmm. All this time, I thought Kerry Fraser was wearing a helmet, albeit one without a chin strap.

Anonymous said...

there were about 200 people at the airport late friday night (saturday morning) after game 4 to welcome them back. http://www.carolinahurricanes.com/custom/rad60374.asp there's mike sundheim's blog entry describing that night.

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