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

Monday, October 22, 2007

Canes beat weary Canucks 3-1

On Monday night, the Vancouver Canuncks came to town for the first time in almost four years. Carolina had to (literally) fight harder than they would have liked, but the end result was a 3-1 win for the guys in red.

The first period was dominated by the Hurricanes. It was clear that the visitors had tired legs as the Canes kept the puck in the Vancouver zone for most of the period and dominated the SOG category 16-6. There was no scoring, but Carolina was by far and away the better team in the first frame.

Cory Stillman got the Canes on the board at 5:07 of the second with a one-timer from the top of the right circle. Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen assisted on the power play goal. Of course, Carolina was employing the five forward PP unit. This came just moments after an apparent goal had been nullified at 2:16 of the second. I suppose the ruling was the variety of "goaltender interference" where the goal is disallowed, but no penalty is called.

The power play was the result of an extra roughing penalty assessed to the Canucks after Craig Adams and Kevin Bieksa went toe-to-toe. For the record, Craig got clobbered in the fight. It only took 28 seconds of the man advantage to get the lamp lit.

At 17:44, Rick Rypien (cousin of former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien) took offence to Mike Commodore's rough treatment of Byron Ritchie. Those two gentlemen had a long fight right beside the penalty benches, with neither combatant getting the upper hand.

Five minutes into the third frame, there was a third fight. Brad Isbister had run Cam Ward and got away with it, but Tim Gleason forced him to pay the consequences by abusing Isbister in a heavyweight bout at center ice.

Chad "Sharpie" LaRose was rewarded for his extraordinary work ethic with a breakaway goal at 7:01. Like Tom Brady-to-Randy Moss against the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon, Rod Brind'Amour saw Chad LaRose at center ice, just behind four white shirts. Brindy threaded the needle and hit LaRose with a perfect pass from deep in the Carolina zone to center ice. LaRose streaked into the Vancouver zone all alone and buried it top shelf against Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver finally started to get their game together about midway through the final stanza. They kept Carolina out of Luongo's house, played very aggressively, and eventually got one past Cam Ward. Brad Isbister had a very nice wrap-around chance, which was denied by Ward. However, at 13:19, Brendan Morrison tucked in the rebound to make it interesting.

In the final minute, after the Canucks had pulled Luongo for an extra attacker, they were caught for having too many men. Loungo had come back on the ice, but nobody came off. Seconds later, Luongo was pulled again, and Ray Whitney put one into the empty cage to make it 3-1.

Chad LaRose had the game-winning goal and was named the game's first star because of it. I'm glad for the guy, but I just didn't see him as the best player on the ice. The "official" three stars were Mike Commodore(third), Ray Whitney (second) and Chad LaRose (first). I saw it completely differently. Really, any number of players could have been any of the three stars, but I finally settled on a completely different set. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Tim Gleason, CAR --- 5 hits, 7 PIM
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- 19 saves, win
FIRST STAR Rod Brind'Amour, CAR --- 2 assists

It should be pointed out that five of Gleason's seven PIM are the "good" variety. He stuck up for his teammates, took down his opponent. We'll gladly take the five for fighting in the name of "team toughness". It wasn't fighting for the sake of fighting or common goonery. It was purposeful. He has been a very dependable defenseman lately, taking away passing lanes, laying down to block shots, and doing all sorts of other inglorious things that good defensemen do.

It should also be pointed out that Cam Ward never had to stand on his head, and he only faced 20 shots. Still, he made it look easy,

Brindy's pass that sprung LaRose was a thing of absolute beauty. How in the world he found LaRose among those four Canucks is beyond me. At the end of the game, he forced a turnover deep in the Vancouver end, and instead of firing it at the empty net from a tough angle, he unselfishly dished it to Whitney for the easy goal.

I was impressed by Craig Adams, who played very good two-way hockey tonight.

Chad LaRose also played very good two-way hockey. He racked up 18 minutes of ice time tonight, and looked very comfortable with his increased role. He got the game-winner on a very pretty goal, and I really wish I could name him one of the RBH stars, but there were too many others.

Buffalo comes to town on Wednesday, and it's probably safe to assume that it'll be another fight-filled game. These two teams do not like each other, and the tempers usually flare.

The three game home stand will conclude Friday against Les Habitants. I'll be in Raleigh that night (and all weekend long), but not at the game.

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