On Saturday night, the Canes snapped a shutout streak, a losing streak, and Eric Staal snapped out of a really long personal goalless streak.
Here's my not-quite-liveblog account.
The. Streak. Is. Over.
Carolina finally scored a goal at 19:59 of the first period, ending a scoreless streak that lasted more than seven periods, totaling 151 minutes, 45 seconds. Whew.
Early on, it looked good for the Canes. Erik Cole was going in on a semi-breakaway, and Tom Poti of the Islanders decided that the only way to stop Cole was to throw his stick. Whether he "threw" it, or "lost the handle" on it is immaterial. The referee has no choice in the matter: he must award a penalty shot.
At 2:52 of the first:
Cole used his usual über wide approach to the goal, sweeping in across the faceoff circles, going from left to right. As he was about to attempt his shot from the goal mouth, he lost the handle and never got a shot off.
A few minutes later, while Mike Commodore was in th box, the Isles had a very active power play. During the two minute segment, Miro Satan managed to hit the right post after making a really nifty spin-o-rama move in the low slot. Then about 30 seconds later, he clanged on off the left post on a breakaway. Two posts by the same player during the same power play? Crazy. Good luck for Cam Ward? Bad luck for Satan? Who knows.
Later on, Erik Cole would draw another penalty with his breakout speed. And another. After Ricky DiPietro made a couple of stellar saves very late in the period, Viva FINALLY lit the lamp at 19:59. The clock showed all zeros, but after a very short review, they determined that it crossed the line with 0.8 seconds remaining.
For the record, it was a backhand from the low slot. Cory Stillman and Andrew Huthchinson assisted on the power play goal. It's Viva's 20th goal of the season, and his 9th power play marker.
A very good period for the home boys.
Right out of the gate, Erik Cole scored a beauty. At 0:37. Ray Whitney hit him with a perfect pass on a two-on-one, Cole was in all alone, and he made a nice move to force DiPi out. A little hesitation, then a move to the backhand, and he beat the man with the 15 year contract.
Even strength goal with helpers from Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour at 0:37.
Trent Hunter brought the Isles right back in it at 2:05. Freddy Meyer blasted a shot from the blue line that was redirected with a backhand from Mike Sillinger in the low slot. Ward was a little turned around, the shot trickled through his legs, then Hunter simply tapped it in.
Even strength goal assisted by Mike Sillinger and Freddy Meyer at 2:05.
At 4:28, Erik Cole potted his second goal of the night while the Canes had a five-on-three. Cory Stillman fired a slapshot from the left circle on which he snapped his second stick in less than a minute. The shot made it all the way through to DiPi, but he didn't control the rebound, and Cole tipped it in from the right post to put the Canes up 3-1.
Five on three goal assisted by Cory Stillman and Ray Whitney at 4:28.
Still later, Cole demonstrated why he's one of the best players in the league on a non-scoring play. He whiffed on a one-timer from the high slot and the Isles were off and running the other way. Cole managed to catch up to and cancel the attacking Isles skater, and get the puck back the other way. Incredible.
Even during the Isles power plays in the second period, the Canes were getting scoring chances. A very good 20 minutes of team hockey.
Early, Rod Brind'Amour took a questionable penalty for goaltender interference, then he must have said the magic word, because he had to feel shame by himself for four minutes. Carolina did a great job of killing off the whole time.
At 14:40, Eric Staal FINALLY got a goal. There was some furious action in front of the Isles net with some point blank shots from Scott Walker and Viva. DiPi made some nice saves, and I think a defenseman made one too. In a close range ping-pong match, Eric Staal was the last to touch it, as his whack at it from the low slot found the back of the net. It was his first goal in ten games.
Even strength goal with helpers from Scott Walker and Viva at 14:40.
At 17:52, Miro Satan scored a strange one. Brendan Witt sent a harmless left point shot on net, but it was redirected a couple of times on its way in, most recently by Satan. I watched the replay about a dozen times, and I still can't tell exactly what happened, but there was a redirection by Viktor Kozlov between Will and Satan.
Carolina wouldn't get a chance to shoot at an empty net because the Islanders committed a penalty that kept all the action in their own end for the remainder.
Overall, this was a very well played game, and it was great to see Erik Cole own the entire game. Also very good to see Staalsy snap out of his drought.
This, dear readers, is what we call "righting the ship".
Unfortunately, the injury bug continues to hit the Canes blue line. They were only able to dress five defensemen because Glen Wesley (lower body, day-to-day), Bret Hedican (finger, four weeks), Tim Gleason (foot, three weeks) and Frantisek Kaberle (shoulder, two-three weeks) are all out. Albany doesn't have anybody to spare. This forced Avi to play more than 25 minutes, but he did a really amazing job. I imagine that Jim Rutherford is already working on making a trade for some depth defence. We're not talking about a Tomas Kaberle. We're just talking about a stopgap.
Anyway, good to see the boys back in the W column.
The "official" three stars were Cam Ward (third), David Tanabe (second) and Erik Cole (first).
The Canes teevee three stars went to Cam Ward (third), Ray Whitney (second) and Erik Cole (first).
Those are both interesting, and although the selection of Tanabe is a little strange, I think he is worthy of some mention.
However, the RBH three stars go to:
THIRD STAR Ray Whitney, CAR. 2 assists
SECOND STAR Justin Williams, CAR. 1 goal, 1 assist
FIRST STAR Erik Cole, CAR. 2 goals, GWG
honorable mention #1 Eric Staal snapped out of a 10 game scoring drought.
honorable mention #2 David Tanabe (rather than his twin brother Avi showed up and logged 25:06 in ice time and finished with a +2 rating.
Up next: the Canes travel to Toronto on Tuesday night. Following that, seven straight games against divisional opponents. This will be the time for the Canes to shine.
5 years ago