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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Canes win 4-3, even series at one.

The Canes beat Buffalo 4-3 on Monday night, evening the series at one game apiece. Before I get started, please note that I was correct in predicting a 4-3 victory by the Canes. I was, however, miserable at predicting the goal scorers. Not one of those guesses came true.

For the first time only the second time in this entire Stanley Cup playoffs, the Sabres were scored against first. Frantisek Kaberle scored a power play goal with a hard blast from just above the left circle at 10:05 of the first. Matt Cullen and Cory Stillman assisted. Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams provided excellent traffic in front of Miller.

The Sabres tied it up at 19:13. Alex Kotalik had a hard shot that just glanced off Tomas Vanek's skate and in the goal. Initially, the scorers ruled that Derek Roy had batted it in just as it was about to cross the line anyway. Review showed that Roy never touched it, and that Vanek's skate knocked it in. They never announced the score change, but according to the official scoresheet, that's how it went down. Rory Fitzpatrick got the other assist.

The second period was one of complete mastery by the Canes. Or complete disaster for the Sabres. Take your pick. While the Canes limited the Sabres to just four shots in the second frame, they scored two goals of their own to put the game just barely out of reach.

Ray Whitney, who I called out for being lackadaisical in game one, scored both second period markers. The first came at 6:15 on a power play goal with Jochen Hecht off for tripping. Eric Staal unleashed a wrist shot from the high slot that Whitney perfectly redirected past Miller for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

The second Whitters goal came at 12:58 during a four-on-four sequence resulting from a questionable coincidental roughing penalties to Marc Recchi and Paul Gaustad. Frankly, I didn't see why either player should have been gone, but it was a wash with both gone. The Canes were controlling puck posession, and during the four-on-four, Matt Cullen found Whitters all alone in the high slot. He one-timed it in for his sixth tally. Glen Wesley got the secondary assist.

At 6:58 of the third, Justin "Viva" Williams scored what turned out to be the game winner. It was on a breakaway chance following a neutral zone turnover. He came in down the left side and fired a straight shot from near the top of the left circle right at Miller. There wasn't any traffic to speak of, and Miller stops this puck cleanly 99,999 times out of 100,000. However, this one hit his glove and somehow squeaked through. The unassisted goal was Viva's third tally of the post-season.

Late in the third, Carolina started to have discipline issues, and it almost caught up with them.

Chris Drury scored during a 5-on-3 sequence at 11:32. Daniel Briere and JP Dumont had the helpers. Kaberle and Hedican took back-to-back hooking penalties near the 10:30 mark, leaving the Canes with little defensive help. Any time you've got two defensemen in the box, you're in trouble. Especially if the 5-on-3 is for 1:45.

With Miller pulled and Chad LaRose gone for holding, the Sabres had a 6-on-4 for the final 1:30 or so, and they managed to cash in with just under three seconds remaining in the game. Derek Roy got the goal, and the assists were from Chris Drury and Maxim Afenogenov. . Quite honestly, there was so much traffic out front, I didn't even see the goal, despite the fact that it was a mere 25 feet in front of my face.

I need to mention that Glen Wesley made a stunning defensive play early in the third that ended up being crucial to the outcome of the game. A Jay McKee left point shot glanced off Cam Ward and behind him. There was a mess of people out front, and Cam didn't know where the puck was, and wouldn't have been able to get to it anyway. It was slowly inching towards the goal line, and at the last nanosecond, Wesley swooped in, got the blade of his stick on the goal line, and kept the puck out. For this, and for some all-round great defensive play, Wesley was given the game's second star.

Despite the third period disipline issues, resulting in four minor penalties, the Canes played a very solid and well balanced game. Defensemen were joining the scoring chances. Forwards were blocking shots. Everyone was much more solid (read: aggressive) on the forecheck.

On both sides, there were some really hard hits. I didn't think it would, but this series certainly is developing the markings of a grudge match. There's still a long way to go in this series, and I doubt very much that game three will be a "tone setter". Instead, I expect this series to have a lot of character, and a number different and changing characteristics. It should be a complete blast. It already has been.

Games three and four will be at the HSBC Arena on Wednesday and Friday nights, respectively. Puck drop for both games will be 7:30 eastern.

9 comments:

evan said...

I imagine that you have realized this after checking your facts, but tonight was actually the second time during the playoffs in which Buffalo was scored upon first. Game 4 versus Ottawa found the Sabres down 1-0 in the first period. What three rivers were they again?

Bill Purdy said...

Wow! Called out by the stats police at 1:43 in the AM!

Well, I can't add anything more. Wesley's sweep was a game-saver, and showed why he wears an 'A' on his sweater (sure to be a hot topic in the off-season).

See ya Sunday.

random sabrefan said...

Wow.

As a Sabres fan and a regular reader of your blog (at least since the end of the conference semifinals), I gotta say your guys swept the floor with our guys last night. Incredible effort by the 'Canes...let's just say I came away completely impressed -- that Wesley stop just embodied everything they did right last night. The extra effort was there in every way. Congrats on the win.

Bryan said...

Go Canes!!!!

KevinP said...

That game was the first time all playoffs that I felt the Sabres were dominated. The Canes absolutley dictated play, and Buffalo failed to repsond to the physical nature of the game.

Well played...looks like we have a series!

Mark said...

I railed against the "cheap" play of the Canes in my recap on BfloBlog but I notice that you don't mention the physical nature of the game in your recap. What was the general consensus among Canes fans? Yes, the Canes were much more physical than the Sabres but those elbows by Ward and Stillman didn't look clean on TV (or on mutliple reviews). I thought the officials were terrible, letting way too much go for both teams and really losing control of the game. What is the perspective of a Canes fan?

d-lee said...

Oh yeah. There's no doubt that the Stillman charging penalty was a real boneheaded thing. There was no call for that. The Canes are going to have to keep up the aggressive physical play, but they're also going to have to keep themselves in check. The Stillman gaffe lead to a Sabres goal, and they escaped unscathed following the other careless penalties (the Kaberle boarding in the first and the Ward elbo in the second.)
Trips, hooks, and holds are okay. Those other kind that involve the player being stupid are the kind we have to eliminate.

The officiating was indded a little rough. They missed calls on both sides, and they called nit-picky stuff on both sides. It was impossible to guess what style of penalty calling they were using. At least with Fraser, he gives an indication of whether he'll be tight or loose, and he stays that way. These guys, though, were schitzophrenic. My biggest concern, though, was the linesman. While the refs were "questionable", I thought the linesman were flat out terrible. They called offside several times when the play was clearly onside. They called icing at least one time when they should not have. They called a phantom hand pass against the Canes, right off a faceoff (which allowed the Sabres to get a previously forbidden line change). I thought they were bad on both sides, though, so maybe it evened out.

Chris said...

The officiating was bad for both sides - it definitely wasn't one sided.

ain't nothin STAAL'n us now.. StanleyCup'06 said...

haha i know "mark" didn't say the canes played cheap?!?

what ru kidding haha
alright. thats a new one.

great game monday. we got this yo!

GO CANESSSS
B E L I E V E

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