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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Canes fall in shootout, homestand begins

On Tuesday night in the Swamps, the Canes scratched and crawled their way to a shootout loss to the Devils. After playing 11 of their last 14 games on the road, the boys will return home for a four game home-stand, beginning with the Caps on Thursday night.

Tuesday night's game looked for all the world like a playoffs game. Both teams were really skating hard and giving it the kind of effort that you frankly don't expect to see in November. Blocked shots by forwards, guys really giving up the body to deny passing lanes, really intense battles in the corners. That kind of thing. In the first period, I took specific notice of Kevyn Adams blocking shots and laying down a bunch of times to seal off New Jersey's lanes. In the third, it was Scott Walker who played very defensively, forcing turnovers, blocking shots, taking slapshots to the gender-specific area of the body. That sort of thing.

There was no scoring in the first, but it looked like New Jersey dominated. On Carolina's power play, they couldn't get any good passes, let alone shots. On New Jersey's power plays, they were creating great chances and Cam Ward was stepping up.

The game's first goal came at 7:50 of the second. The Devils were really popping on the power play, peppering Ward with shot after shot. He turned aside two or three point-blank shots, but Travis Zajac finally got through. Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner (both Minnesota natives) helped.

Minutes later, the Devils committed two consecutive delay of game penalties for sending the puck over the glass from their own zone. Carolina finally got some good puck rotation, and with five forwards on the ice, they were really aggressive with the five-on-three. Eric Staal took a shot from high in the slot to beat Brodeur and knot the game. Ray "The Wizard" Whitney and Viva got the assists.

No more scoring in the second.

As the third period wore on, both teams started to show fatigue. There were lots of turnovers and lots of fanning on shots and passes. Carolina looked more tired, and I was thinking that they would give up a late goal to lose 2-1.

At 15:45 of the third, however, Rod Brind'Amour got a surprising goal. Justin Williams was out front, just outside the goal crease, drawing the attention of Brian Rifalski. Brindy was down at the right half-wall, and used Rifalski as a screen. His shot was mishandled by Brodeur, and probably made contact with Rifalski's leg on the way in anyway. Erik Cole and Mike Commodore got the assists. It won't show in the scoresheet, but it wouldn't have happened without the attention Viva was getting. Credit him for making Rifalski set that screen.

Then, I was feeling pretty good, but the Canes still looked tired. They just needed to hold out for another four minutes.

Little used Jim Dowd tied the game at two at the 19 minute mark of the third. They had pulled Brodeur for an extra attacker, and Dowd took a pass on the doorstep and shoved it through Ward's five-hole to stave off a loss. Paul Martin and John Madden got the assists.

The overtime period was really crazy. Carolina had a ton of great chances in the final two minutes. The Devils couldn't clear the zone, and the Canes kept pounding away. Marty Brodeur answered the bell every time, though, and sent the game to shootout. Anybody's game.

The Devils elected to go second. Brian Gionta scored in the bottom of the second, and Rod Brind'Amour in the top of the third. Ward stopped Parise to send it to extra "innings". No scoring in the fourth or fifth. In the sixth, Scott Walker came up empty for Carolina and John Madden went high glove side to win it for the Devils.

My three stars are VERY different from the "official three stars", and they go:

Third Star Justin "Viva" Williams CAR. 1 assist.
Second Star Martin Brodeur NJD. 26 saves.
First Star John Madden NJD. 1 assist. Won game in shootout.

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