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

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Canes outlast Caps; Sabres on deck

On Friday night, the Hurricanes defeated the visiting Capitals 4-3, gained two valuable standings points and expanded their SE division lead to six points. Tonight, the Hurricanes will be in the HSBC Arena to play the Sabres.

I had a ticket to Friday's game, but I had a flat tire to deal with, and I decided to skip it. I'll exchange that unused ticket for another game later.

Alex Ovechkin got the visitors on the board at 2:35 of the first. Scott Walker went to the box for hooking, where he was supposed to be by himself for two minutes, feeling shame. It didn't take that long. The Caps used a set play to score just two seconds into the power play. Michael Nylander won the faceoff cleanly to Ovechkin, who was parked in the high slot. He rifled it in from there for his 18th goal of the season. Nylander had the only assist, and Walker was free to go.

At 9:50, Cory Stillman tied the score with his 13th goal of the season. Eric Staal attempted a right-to-left wrap-around, then was unable to stuff in the juicy rebound from the left side. The next juicy rebound went out to Cory Stillman, just off the right post. Staal and Walker had the helpers.

The rest of the first period featured a disallowed goal by Ovechkin and an unsuccessful penalty shot by Chad "Sharpie" LaRose.

Matt Cullen, who I called the Hurricanes "hot seat" player, put the Canes in the lead at 5:46 of the second. On a play where Scott Walker worked really hard, he has nothing to show for helping create this goal. He was aggressive with forechecking, which helped give Whitney and Cully time and space right at the right post. After a good hard check by Walker, taking Brian Pothier out of the play, Ray Whitney was allowed to work the puck behind the net. Cullen was streaking in undetected towards the right post. From right on the goal line, he fired one off Kolzig's stick. It took a funny hop, and eventually barely crossed the line. It was Cullen's sixth goal to go with 19 assists. It was just his second even strength goal. Officially, Cullen from Whitney and Glen Wesley at 5:46 of the second.

At 14:01 of the second, Rod Brind'Amour potted a strange goal. Tim Gleason sent a hard, high shot from the blue line, which was slightly tipped by Brindy in the slot area. After reviewing the play to see if it was hit with a high stick, the goal was allowed to stand and Carolina had a 3-1 lead. Gleason and Andrew "Trade Bait" Ladd got the assists.

No more scoring in the second, but this game had its THIRD call to Toronto at the expiration of the period. As the period ended, the Caps were feverishly trying to score on the power play. Mike Green thought he had one at the buzzer, but the red light never came on. The on-ice officials weren't sure. The red light never came on because the green light did. Once that green light, which is automatically triggered by the clock hitting all zeros comes on, the red light gets locked out. The red light, though, is manually triggered. There's another important distinction, which is that the puck has to cross the line before the clock hits zeros for it to count. Unlike basketball, where the ball can be in the air when the buzzer sounds and the light goes on, the puck has to be across the line. Since there is obviously a slight delay with the human-operated red (goal) light, they went to review. The official video review has a burn-in of the clock on screen, and they were able to see that the clock had indeed hit all zeros before the puck crossed the line. It was a good break for the Canes.

AO got his second goal of the game just 32 seconds into the third frame, while the Caps were enjoying a power play on a fresh sheet of ice. There was a failed clearing attempt by the Canes followed by a magnificent individual effort by the flamboyant Russian. He weaved his way through traffic and fired a shot from the inside hash marks on the left circle. There was nothing Cam Ward could do. Alexander Semin got the only assist. Curiously, the Caps teevee announcer proclaimed that "hats are coming down on the ice for Ovechkin". No hats were coming down because it was just his second (not third) goal of the night. The Caps usually have a pretty decent contingency in the RBC Center, but they usually sit at the top of section 111. Even if it had been AO's third goal, there's no way you can get your hat on the ice from the top of 111, which is behind the north goal (visitors shoot twice). You have distance and the netting to deal with. As much grief as he gave the other guy for referring to the green light as "the white light", I'm surprised the other guy didn't call him out for not knowing how to count to three, or for making up the "hats are hitting the ice".

Anyway, after the goal, Ovechkin put on a rather showy display, which earned him a lot of derision from the RBC faithful. Despite being phenomenal players, neither Ovechkin nor Ilya Kovalchuk have any fans here. They're a little too aggressive with their post-goal celebrations.

Ovechkin's second made the score 3-2 in favor of the good guys. This was the score that I predicted at work earlier that morning.

Brind'Amour added another goal at 3:47 of the third. It would turn out to be the game-winner. It was another fluky goal, but they all look like beautiful one-timers in the box score. Brindy was behind the net and noticed that Kolzig was high in the crease and away from the right post. He was doing this all night, and it was this positioning that helped Cullen score his goal earlier. Brindy fired one hard at Kolzig's gear, and it caromed in off his blocker. Green and AO were there in front of the net, but neither could do anything to bail out their goaltender. Brindy's 13th goal of the season was unassisted.

Michael Nylander, who I called the Caps "hot seat" player, made things really interesting at 15:53. He was all alone in the low slot, and Viktor Kozlov found him there. LaRose tried to bail out the invisible defensemen there, but he couldn't make it over in time and Nylander had no trouble putting it in. Ovechkin got the secondary assist.

The Caps pulled Kolzig early, and they had six attackers on for about 1:45. They were helped out when Justin Viva Williams cleared the puck over the defensive zone glass for a penalty. Cam Ward had to be sharp, and he was down the stretch.

The "official" three stars went to Ovechkin (third), Cullen (second) and Brind'Amour (first). I'm close to that, but a little different. It doesn't show in the stat sheet, but Scott Walker deserves some props. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Scott Walker, CAR --- 1 assist, +2, 3 hits
SECOND STAR Alexander Ovechkin, WAS --- 2 goals, 1 assist.
FIRST STAR Rod Brind'Amour, CAR --- 2 goals, GWG

Carolina was outshot 34-19, and they were unable to convert their power plays or kill penalties. They won the game, which is great and all, but they'll have to start getting the special teams in order, and they'll have to start getting more quality shots on net.

With his goal, Cory Stillman extended a scoring streak to six games.

Carolina will be in Buffalo tonight. The Sabres were idle last night and haven't played since a 4-3 loss to the Blues. Puck drop is at 7.

1 comment:

WufPirate said...

I was starting to wonder if the Ref was just making booty calls for his after-game entertainment!

It was a good crowd last night, exciting game, and yes when Scott Walker is on the ice -- there is an unbelievable amount of energy present.

And we got some help as the B's knocked off the Panthers last night.

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