On Saturday night, the Canes found a way to snap out of their losing skid by winning a road game against the struggling Lightning. Although they finally won a game after losing five in a row, some disturbing trends continued and they'll have to continue to improve if they want to make any postseason plans.
One of the continuing trends was that the other team scored first. This time, though, it wasn't in the game's opening moments. In fact, there was no scoring in the first. Ryan Craig was left alone on the front doorstep, and Brad Richards found him with a beautiful pass from behind the goal line for the easy goal at 7:49 of the second. Vaclav Prospal (who I still refuse to call "Vinny") got the secondary assist.
While actually getting good puck rotation on a power play, Ray "The Wizard" Whitney weaved his way through lots of traffic in the left circle to beat Marc Denis at 13:05. Viva was all alone on the right side, but Whitney took the shot instead of passing, and beat Marc Denis on the short side. Denis anticipated the pass and wasn't really in much of a position to make the save. Keith Aucoin worked really hard to dig the puck off the half-wall, and got the lone assist.
At 12:58 of the third, Eric Staal snapped out of his own slump to give the Canes a 2-1 lead. Erik Cole should be given high praise for creating the scoring chance. He burst away from a pack of players along the wall for a one-on-one chance that snapped off the left post into the low slot. Eric Staal corralled the rebound and hacked away at it until it finally got through Denis' pads on the right side. Cole had the lone assist, and this was the second play of its kind where he just exploded to the net for a great chance. Early in the first, he was stymied on a give-and-go from Cory Stillman. Although he deserved to have scored one or both times, at least the Canes had something to show for it.
The Wizard got what looked like an insurance marker at 18:36 of the third, but it proved to be the game winner when it was all said and done. As the Bolts were about to pull Denis for an extra attacker, the Canes forced a turnover in their own zone. Viva hit Whitney at center ice with a stretch pass, and he was in all alone. Going straight down the middle, he faked a last-second move to the backhand and wristed it through Denis' five hole. Eric Belanger, who has been playing very well, got the secondary assist.
Just when we thought it was all over, I prophetically announced to the Acid Queen in an IM that we would somehow find a way to "eff it up". Sure enough, they tried to do just that. For the FOURTH GAME IN A ROW, the Canes took one of those delaying the game (puck in crowd) penalties. Coupled with the removal of Denis, the Bolts had a six-on-four advantage, and it didn't take long at all for them to convert. Martin St. Louis stuffed in a rebound from the left side of the goal at 19:04. Brad Richards fired a slapshot from above the left circle that was re-directed a time or two before Ward kicked it out to his right. St. Louis had a couple of cracks at it before lighting the lamp. It was really hard to tell exactly who did what, but the assists went to Eric Perrin and Ryan Craig.
The Canes survived the final 56 seconds, and got their first win in nearly two weeks.
Next, the Canes take their show up to the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday night.
3 years ago