On Sunday night, the Canes eliminated the Devils with a 4-1 win, following a disappointing 6-1 loss on Saturday.
I apologize for the lateness of this post, and for the absence of one on Saturday. However, outside factors like a wedding, really really crappy weather, and another game prevented me from staying on point.
On Saturday, the Canes got what I figured they would. Cam Ward got rocked, had his miraculous streak ended, and the Canes had an off day. However, they didn't (and more importantly, Cam Ward didn't) get distracted by the loss. They bounced back Sunday with a quality performance and a richly deserved win.
With the series win on Sunday, the Canes made some franchise history. This was the first time the team had ever won a series on home ice. Previous to this season, the Canes had only won three series. All of those came in their 2002 run to the Cup, and all three came on the road. Back in Hartford, the Whalers only won one series, and that came on the road as well.
Things were working against the Canes early in Sunday's game, but they didn't let it get the better of them. Brian Gionta scored a goal in the first minute of the game, and there were 5 penalties against the Canes in the first period. They calmly and effectively killed every one of those penalties while the crowd was busy screaming at referees Leggo and McGeough.
At 8:39 of the first, Frantisek Kaberle got a goal with a blue line blast through traffic. Initially, it looked like it was redirected by Matt Cullen, but the deflection was off a New Jersey stick. Recchi and Cullen got assists.
Carolina managed to draw their first penalty of the game in the 14th minute of the second period when David Hale cross-checked Cory Stillman at 13:30. Actually, there were only two penalties called against the Devils all night long. The boys capitalized on this chance just 50 seconds later when Stillman completed a pretty tic (Rod Brind'Amour)-tac (Viva)-toe (Stillman) play to take the lead for good. Stillman's goal would prove to be the game winner.
At the end of two, Carolina was up one, but clearly looked like the dominant team. They fought off that series of penalties in the first, they were controlling the possession/zone battles and they had started to dominate the shots on goal category. In the second period, the Canes shot 16 times while limiting the Devils to 3.
At 7:22 of the third, Ray "the Wizard" Whitney relieved some tension in the building by putting the Canes up 3-1. Doug Weight and the hard-working Andrew Ladd got assists.
With nothing to lose, the Devils yanked Brodeur for an extra attacker with about 2 minutes to play. Shortly thereafter, Eric Staal scored an empty netter at 18:32 to put the game out of reach. Even though the game was "out of reach", what happened next confused me. The Devils put Brodeur back in net. I really don't get that. They had nothing at all to lose, but they gave up. They wouldn't have scored three goals in the closing 90 seconds even with the extra attacker, but they didn't even try.
Since the Sabres closed out their series with the Sens, and all that craziness has taken place in the West, Carolina will have home ice for the rest of the playoffs. We'll have to wait for the Edmonton-San Jose series to be over before we can proceed, but the speculation is that we'll start the Buffalo series on Saturday night.
Cory Stillman went down awkwardly late in the third and didn't return. From the way he skated off the ice, and from the replays, it looked like something happened to his left ankle. They didn't have any details (and wouldn't give them if they had them), but Peter Laviolette was quoted as saying something like "we don't have any test results back, but it doesn't look serious". We've got a few days to figure it out.
Rod Brind'Amour is still one point shy of 100 career playoff points. Eric Staal extended his playoff point streak to 10 games.
Pictures and more details later. For now, work.
EDIT (8:01 PM) -- I was clearly drunk or still asleep when I composed this post this morning. I was shocked to find more than two major errors concerning the sequence of events in the game. I have corrected those errors, and I apologize profusely for any confusion I may have caused
4 years ago