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

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Canes lose key game

On Sunday afternoon, while the UNC Tarheels were winning the ACC Men's Basketball tournament, the Hurricanes lost to the Rangers in shootout. This will hurt, but not kill Carolina's playoff hopes.

The two teams both have 76 points in the standings, but the Rangers have a game in hand, so they get the tiebreaker there. They are also poised to be in the driver's seat with respect to all tiebreakers with Carolina. The Rangers won the season series 3-1. New York has leapt from 10th place to eighth, and Carolina has dropped to ninth.

The game was very exciting with a few twists and turns. The game's first goal was scored by the most unlikely of candidates. Marek Malik. At 9:13 of the first, he stormed down the right side and fired a shot high on net. Cam Ward made a stop, but gave up a big rebound, allowing Malik a second (better) shot. It was the first goal of the season for the former Cane. Jaro Jagr and Mike Roszival assisted.

At 10:04 of the second, Viva notched his 33rd goal of the season with helpers from Brind'Amour and Ray Whitney. The play was set up by some really nifty and patient passing. Whitney drew all the attention, then dropped a pass to Brindy in the low slot. Instead of shooting, he further confused the Rangers defense by sending it over to Viva in the right circle. Henrik Lundqvist didn't have a chance to make the stop. Whitney now has 74 (27/47) points, and needs just three more to set a career best.

Somewhere around this time, Cam Ward was injured and had to be replaced by John Grahame. It looks like Ward was cut by a skate blade during a goal-mouth scrum. He left, and required 11 stitches. Crackers came in ice cold and did an amazing job.

The Canes had a full two minutes of power play in the overtime period, but couldn't get anything going. The game headed to shootout, and that pretty much spells disaster for Carolina. The Hurricanes are the only team to have zero shootout wins this season. They were very successful last season, and they were reminded why when Matt Cullen scored the "game-deciding" goal for the Rangers in the shootout.

The "official" three stars went to Malik (third), Lundqvist (second) and Cullen (first). I don't really have a problem with that.

The Canes will be in action on Tuesday at home against the surging Panthers, who are making a run at the final playoff spot, but find themselves a few points out of serious contention.

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