On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes traveled down to sunny Fort Lauderdale, took a detour through the Twilight Zone, and escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Panthers. In some ways, it was reminiscent of the Canes 3-2 overtime victory in Florida on December 23. In others, it was like nothing I've ever seen, and the League office needs to take notice.
While the Canes won, they were unable to gain any ground in the SE division because first place Atlanta was in a shooting gallery against the Kings' two ECHL-calibre goaltenders. After Dan Cloutier and Mathieu Garon both went down with injuries, they were forced to dig very deep in their organization's depth chart to find Japanese sensation Yutaka Fukufugi and Barry Brust. I'm not exaggerating about their talent level. Something about shooting fish in a barrel.
Scott Walker gave the Canes at early lead at 10:49 of the first. During a power play sequence, an Erik Cole shot sailed wide, then took a strange bounce off the end wall glass after hitting a support stanchion. The puck caromed out in front of the left post, where Walker simply tucked it in. Ed "Billion Dollar" Belfour had no idea where the puck was. Cole got the first assist, and Rod Brind'Amour got the second.
Several hooking penalties were assessed against the Panthers during the rest of the first and the second, but the Canes were unable to cash in. Credit the Cats blueline for taking away chances. At one point during the second, Belfour got lucky when Justin Williams clanged a single shot of BOTH posts.
In the third, the Cats came to life. Olli "Cane Killah" Jokinen got an easy one at 5:56 to tie it at one. A shot from Rostislav Olesz was stopped by Crackers, but the rebound went into the low slot where Jokinen was waiting for it. Grahame didn't stand a chance. The secondary assist went to Joel Kwiatkowski, who I've never heard of.
The great controversy came at 10:16 of the third, when Nathan Horton was awarded a goal after the on-ice call was "no goal" and that the puck had been hit with a high stick. I'll cover this in a separate post.
Officially, a five-on-three goal by Nathan Horton from Cane Killah and Ruslan Salei at 10:16.
After several minutes of delay, play continued, and although the Canes were furious, they didn't let the perceived injustice take them off their game. Quite the opposite. They kept composure, forced overtime, and won.
Erik Cole got the game-tying goal on a wrist shot from the high slot at 13:34. Dennis Seidenberg brought the puck over the blue line, fed it to Cory Stillman, then went toward the net. The Cats defenders had to pay attention to him instead of double teaming Cole, and #26 was able to beat "The Eagle" badly five hole. It was Cole's 20th, and the helpers came from Stillman and Seidenberg.
Overtime didn't last long, and like the previous visit to Florida, the extra frame featured a penalty to a Cats defenseman. Last time, it was a bad hooking call against Jay Bouwmeester. This time, it was a legitimate holding call against Mike Van Ryn at 1:30 of the extra frame. Van Ryn exploded, smashing his stick over the crossbar (his own goal) and proceeded to smash his stick against the walls of the penalty box. For some reason, there wasn't an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I've seen players penalized for far less. It didn't matter anyway, because Carolina only needed 17 seconds of said penalty.
At 1:47 of the bonus frame, Viva held the puck at the left dot, faked, faked, waited, then fired a wrist shot into the near side of the net, giving the Canes the win. Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour got the assists. It's Viva's seventh game-winning goal, which ties him for first in the League, and his 10th power play goal. He's now got goals in four of the last five games. At 23 goals, he's well on his way to matching or bettering his career high 31 goals last year.
It may have been a surprise, but Justin Williams is certainly worthy of his All-Star appointment.
In a few minutes, I'll have a post about the Horton goal.
The "official" three stars of the game were Erik Cole (third) Olli Jokinen (second), and Justin Williams (first). The Fox Sports South crew and the RBH three stars line up the same way:
Third Star Olli Jokinen, FLA -- goal, assist
Second Star Erik Cole, CAR -- goal, assist
First Star Justin Williams, CAR -- game winning goal.
4 years ago