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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hurricanes top Flyers in shootout; Stillman to miss a week.

On Saturday, the Hurricanes went to the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, attempting to avoid a season series sweep by the Flyers. Dating back to last season, the Flyers had won four matches in a row. Carolina eked out a 6-5 win with Rod Brind'Amour getting the "winner" in the shootout.

I was helping a friend load up a moving truck all day long, then went to dinner, so I was only able to watch the first period. I set the dvr to record the rest, but I used the automatic setting rather than manually adding 20 minutes like I usually do. The result was that I didn't get to see the last five minutes of regulation, the overtime period or the shootout. Thank goodness NHL.com does a good job with the highlights.

At 9:33 of the first, Joffrey Lupul converted a breakaway chance to put the Flyers up 1-0. The unassisted goal was Lupul's tenth of the season.

Defenseman Nic Wallin converted the rebound of an Erik Cole shot into a goal for the Canes at 13:49. Cole's hard slapper from the right circle bounced out to Wallin in the slot, and he shot it into a wide open net for his first goal of the season.

At 15:21, it looked like Wallin had made it 2-1 with a wrist shot from the left point. However, closer inspection showed that Scott Walker re-directed the shot from the slot. It was Walker's third goal of the season, and Wallin had the only helper.

Carolina took a 3-1 lead at 2:17 of the second. It was one of many bizarro goals on the night. The puck was clearly in the net, but the on-ice call was no goal because it was played with a high stick. Initially, the referee was saying that Cullen (the eventual goal scorer) had his stick above the height of the crossbar when he deflected it in. When they reviewed it, they found that the puck caromed off Cullen's body after having bounced off a Flyer's stick. The initial shot by Tim Gleason from the blue line was deflected with a questionably high stick by Craig Adams. Then off a Flyers' stick (which negates the played with a high stick). Then it bounced off of Cullen's torso (or maybe the shaft of his stick). Something about the Philly player made everything else irrelevant. Ultimately, Cullen was given credit for the goal. Gleason and CrAdams had the assists.

Just when it looked like it might be a runaway, the crazy goals kept coming. And they were coming from both sides.

Scott Hartnell scored a power play goal at 5:28 to bring the home team within one goal. Johnny Crackers made a good stop on a Hartnell shot from close range, and he was trying to freeze the puck. However, the puck was loose just inches from the goal line with just a tiny gap between Grahame's body and the left post. The referee was in perfect position to see that the puck wasn't frozen, and Hartnell kept whacking at it until he got it to cross the line. Jeff Carter and Braydon Coburn got the assists.

At 7:32, Lupul scored his second tally of the night on another goal that was initially ruled "no goal". RJ Umberger came in on a breakaway and Crackers made a stop on him. The rebound went out to Lupul in the left circle. By this point, Grahame was out of position, and Carolina defensemen Tim Gleason dove into the net with his left leg on top of the goal line, running parallel with it. Lupul's shot struck Gleason's leg and bounced out. Play continued. At the next stoppage of play, they took a closer look at that play, and Gleason's leg was just a hair over the goal line. When the puck hit his leg, it just barely crossed the goal line to do so. 3-3. The lone assist went to RJ Umberger.

Eric Staal busted out of his scoring drought at 13:20 of the second. Cole, Ray Whitney and Staal broke into the Flyers zone on an odd-man rush. Cole led the way down the right wing, then dropped a pass to the trailing Staal who one-timed it from the right circle. His 16th goal of the season broke a three game goal drought and was just his second in the last 11 games.

The second period ended 4-3, but Carolina lost the services of Cory Stillman. He suffered a knee injury and was unable to return. He lay on the ice a while after getting tangled with a Flyers player, then couldn't put any pressure on it as he left the ice. Initial indicators are that he'll miss a week or so.

Daniel Briere was left all alone in front of the net, and he made the Canes pay with an equalising goal at 0:30 of the third. Scott Hartnell and Braydon Coburn had the assists.

Trevor Letowski, who has been playing really well lately, restored the Canes lead at 6:17 of the third. After he worked really hard along the goal line against Biron, the puck worked out to the left point, where Bret Hedican fired away. Letowski was there in the left circle to make the tip, and it easily found the back of the net. Letowski's third goal of the year was assisted by Hedican and CrAdams.

Joffrey Lupul completed the hat trick while the Flyers were enjoying a five-on-three power play. All three Canes skaters and three Flyers were involved in a scrum after a flurry of shots on Grahame. Somehow, amidst all those legs and pads and gloves and sticks, the referee says he never lost sight of it. The Flyers were furiously hacking at Grahame's acoutrements trying to coerce the puck over the line. It worked. Lupul from Mike Knuble and Mike Richards at 11:46 of the third on the power play.

There was no more scoring in the third or the overtime period, but each team had power play opportunities galore.

It went to shootout.

Briere went first and shot his attempt over the net.

Cullen went first for the Canes and he used a move like Kristian Huselius used the other night on his breakaway goal against the Canes. He beat Biron cleanly.

Mike Richards went next for the Flyers. He went straight in without any fancy stuff and buried his shot.

Jeff Hamilton went second for the Canes. Instead of pulling backhand to forehand late, he did it early. His trick this time, though was to swing wide left, then pull back to the right and he easily beat Biron.

Lupul went next, knowing that he had to score just to stay alive. He went straight in, fired a shot that Grahame handled, but it trickled through him and in the goal.

Brind'Amour was next for the Canes. A miss meant the shootout would continue. Under a cloud of thundering boos (why?), the former Flyers alternate captain went in and fired a shot right at the glove hand of Biron. The puck popped straight up into the air over Biron's head. He had no idea where it was until it hit him in the back and rolled into the net.

Carolina won its first shootout since the 2005-06 season.

The official three stars went to Cole (third), Brind'Amour (second) and Lupul (first). I see it a little different. I'd love to give Crackers some love. He stood tall in a shooting gallery in stages of the second and third periods. He faced a lot of really tough shots and looked good. He gave up five goals, but he looked really good. I know that sound odd, but he did.
The RBH three stars:

THIRD STAR Nic Wallin, CAR -- 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 blocked shots (all while having the least ice time of any defensemen)
SECOND STAR Erik Cole, CAR -- 2 assists, 2 hits
FIRST STAR Joffrey Lupul, PHI -- 3 goals, shootout "goal"

The Flyers turn right around and play a 5:00 game at New Jersey. The Hurricanes, who did the same thing last weekend with a 5:00 Sunday game at Detroit following a 7:00 game at Rangers, will have no sympathy for the Flyers.

The Canes will be back in action with a home game against the Leafs on Tuesday.

1 comment:

magnolia_mer said...

I know what you mean about Grahame. He DID look good, despite the 5 goals. And he didn't let the goals mess him up mentally, he stayed in the game. I am very proud of him.

And that Brind'amour goal was sick. I first thought he missed, and my husband started cheering long before I figured out what had happened. Love watching the playback on that one.

If we had lost that game, it would have been so hard, given all the emotion built up by gaining and losing the lead over and over again. But at least I would have gotten my money's worth, figuratively speaking.

Even if they lose, if the Canes play with that kind of intensity, they'll always have me as a fan.


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