On Monday night, the Canes took a 2-1 lead against the Avs early in the third period, but the wheels fell off and the vehicle burst into flames midway through the period. Colorado poured it on, lighting the lamp four times in an eight minute span en route to a 5-2 win, their 11th triumph in a row over the Canes. Carolina has still never beaten Colorado. Next year, the Canes will host the Avs. Until then, Colorado will remain the only team in the NHL that the Canes have never defeated.
Viva scored two goals for the Canes, and for two and a half periods, everyone looked good, but some switch went off in the third, and it all went to pot.
I missed the first goal, but it was Tyler Arnason in the low slot assisted by Patrice Windy Tree and Brett McLean at 1:22 of the first.
There were a ton of penalties against the Avs in the first period, and some of them were quite a bit ticky-tacky. The inexperienced Brian Pochmara was one of the officials, and in my opinion, he had a rough night. The last time we saw Pochmara, the Sabres came into Raleigh on November 13and bitch-slapped the Canes 7-4. Even after a victory, certain Sabres fans still moaned about the officiating. Agreeably, that was a bad night for the refs, but I'll never get fans who complain about officiating after their team wins a game in decisive fashion.
The crew last night made a disgusting mistake that benefited the Canes, and it's worth pointing out. Bear with me.
At 19:51 of the first, Brett Clark was called for a really questionable holding penalty as he battled Eric Staal in neutral ice.
At 0:13 of the second, as the Canes were working the power play, Erik Cole was driving to the net and was knocked down by Ken Klee. There was no call, and there should have been. To "make up" for it, they called a bogus hooking penalty against Brad Richardson just 8 seconds later, giving the Canes a 5-on-3. Two wrongs don't make a right, and although it benefited the Canes, I was appalled by it even before it bore fruit. As much as I dislike bad officiating, I also don't like bogus "make-up calls". It's lazy and irresponsible.
Just before the 5-on-3 expired, Viva tipped in a centering pass from Cory Stillman at the 1:44 mark of the second. Eric Staal got the second assist.
Peter Budaj and Johnny Crackers made a series of huge stops on their respective ends to keep the game knotted at one after two periods.
At 1:08 of the third, Viva gave the Canes a 2-1 lead on a weird little shot from the inside hash marks of the left circle. It should have been an easy stop by Budaj, given the highlight reel stops he'd been making, but it somehow found his five-hole. Originally, the lone assist was given to Eric Belanger down in the corner, and was a product of his excellent forechecking. However, they changed the scoring and gave the lone assist to Crackers. I guess they ruled that Belanger never had actual possession of the puck. I dunno.
For a few shining moments, it looked like Carolina would put this Colorado dry spell behind them. Andrew Brunette ended a 15 game goal-less streak by persistently hacking at some rebounds in front of Grahame. After a really good save and a foiled rebound attempt, Brunette slipped it past him at 8:46 of the third. Wojtek Wolski and Joe Sakic assisted on the play.
At 10:35, while the Avs were on the power play, J-M Liles snuck into the low slot behind Craig Adams and easily beat Crackers off the feed from Brunette. Sakic got the secondary assist.
The next time the Canes were penalized, the Avs made them pay again. Just seven seconds into a Ray Whitney tripping penalty, Sakic scored at 12:44. Whitney had himself just been the victim of an undetected hook, and he cheated a little, trying to get the advantage back. Unfortunately, he was caught. The Avs wasted no time freeing him from the box, though. Brunette and Wolski got the helpers.
They weren't done yet, and they went ahead and made it 3-3 on the power play in the third stanza. After Anton Babchuk was penalized for hooking, Pierre Turgeon scored at 16:23 from Arnason and Windy Tree.
For the first 50 minutes, Carolina looked good. They still struggled with their own power play, but Cole and Staal looked strong. Stillman was in the lineup for the first time, giving them that whole "Cory Stillman feel" that he's got in spades. Johnny G was having a tremendous game until the Liles goal. After that, he wasn't so good. Unfortunately, 50 minutes isn't good enough. They're still not playing a 60 minute game, and having injuries to key players isn't a good excuse. The Sabres didn't use "injuries" as an excuse to not try hard in the playoffs last spring. That said, we REALLY miss Brind'Amour. Especially in the face-off circle. It's painful to watch Eric Staal, who is otherwise a fantastic player, take faceoffs. He's not strong enough, quick enough, and he doesn't position himself well enough to be a dominant faceoff man like Rod is. Brindy gets much lower has a much wider stance, making his center of gravity lower, and that has to give him some advantage from a physics standpoint.
The RBH three stars:
Third Star Justin Williams, CAR. 2 goals
Second Star Andrew Brunette, COL. 1 goal, 2 assists
First Star Joe Sakic, COL. 1 goal, 2 assists
I'm skipping a Season Ticket Holders/Cup thing tonight, and I'll probably regret it later.
The Canes are off until Friday, when the Leafs come to town. They need to work on special teams in the meantime.
3 years ago