Although it wasn't so in the first period, Carolina controlled most of the game. In the second period, they were completely dominant, and it was mostly due to the stellar play of Jussi Markkanen that the game was close going into the third. He earned the third star of the game. I think it's safe to say that he has far exceeded the expectations of him.
Early on, the referees indicated that they were going to allow a physical game. No ticky-tacky stuff on hard hits. It looked early like Edmonton was going to control the game with physical play, but it in the third period, it was Carolina who was dishing out the hits.
Quickly, I'll rehash my pregame "needs" for Carolina.
- BE AGGRESSIVE Check. They were aggressive with the forecheck, with the shots, and just in a "general sort of way".
- Continue stellar work on the PK Check. Carolina killed all five penalties, including a lengthy 5-on-3. For the series, Carolina has killed 25 of 26 penalties (96.2%).
- Get the PP going again Check. Sort of. The power play looked good all night long, and they cashed in on one of six chances. For the series, Carolina has converted five of 26 power plays. (19.2%)
- Wake Eric Staal out of his coma Check. Assists on both goals. We'd still like to get him back in the "goals" column, but we can't really complain at this point.
It was a hard fought win, and we'll be glad to get out of there.
Cory Stillman has been a beast. When he came to Carolina, people hailed it as a "good pickup", but everyone said the same thing. "He'll disappear in the playoffs." I don't think so. He's got 24 points (9/15), tying him with Eric Staal (7/17) for tops in the playoffs.
Carolina's defense was outstanding. Nic Wallin made some amazing plays, and the whole unit did a great job.
Wednesday night puck drop will be 8:00. I might not make it to work on Thursday.