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

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Canes shut out Bruins

Cam Ward returned to the nets after playing backup to Michael Leighton for the last two games. He hadn't seen any action since last Wednesday. If he developed any rust, he didn't show it. In the end, he earned a 1-0 shutout of the Bruins.

Earlier in the day, Carolina claimed Sergei Samsonov off waivers, and he was supposed to play on the third line. However, the Canes were forced to make a last second scratch of Ray Whitney. This elevated the newcomer to the top line with Rod Brind'Amour and Cory Stillman.

Whitney has the flu. So, too, does Glen Wesley. He was also a last-second scratch. The list of wounded and sick Hurricanes is getting kind of ridiculous. If not for the fact that Andrew Ladd and Nic Wallin both returned to the lineup tonight, they would have been short by a couple of guys.


Eric Staal nearly gave the Canes the lead with about four minutes to play in the opening stanza. However, Tim Thomas made a dazzling save. After making a stick save, he flashed his stick through the goal mouth to catch a fluttering puck just as it crossed the line. There was a brief video review, but even without it, it was easy to tell that the puck had not completely crossed the line.

The only other action in the first period was an early fight. Wade Brookbank keeps throwing down the mitts. I can't say that I like it, but he's letting other teams know that he's there.

Despite being outshot 8-4 in the first period, Carolina looked good. This was only the beginning.

In the second period, they looked fantastic. This is three or four games in a row where they've looked very good in the middle stanza. This is refreshing, because throughout November and December, they played horribly in the second period of every game. Carolina dominated play. They outshot the Bruins 17-6 and kept the puck in the Boston zone for the majority of the period.

Eric Staal had the game's only goal at 18:20 of the second. He and Nic Wallin ran a reverse behind the net, and Staalsy ended up firing a wrister from the right faceoff dot. Thomas was cheating on the short side, and the shot beat him low on the blocker side. Wallin and Chad LaRose had the assists.

Sergei Samsonov looked pretty damn good out there. He was unfamiliar with the plays that Carolina runs, and he was obviously unfamiliar with his new teammates. I don't think he even had a chance to practice with them. In the second period, he was flying. He had a few quality shots and had some great shifts. I think he'll be fine.

Both goaltenders had to make some fine stops down the stretch, but Cam Ward's save with about 30 seconds to go was the best. He had to explode from his left to right across the crease to make a nifty kick save, preserving the lead.

With 17 seconds to go, Wallin took a lazy tripping penalty, and the final few seconds were played six-on-four. Good stuff. Good stuff.

I like that Cam Ward responded to having the week off by pitching a shutout. I also like that for the third straight game, the Hurricanes killed all of their penalties. In this game, there were three, so they've now killed the last ten penalties in a row.

The three game road trip is done, and Carolina took four of six points. Not bad. Meanwhile, the Thrashers and Kitties both lost Tuesday night. Carolina's lead is now back up to five points over the Thrash and seven over the Cats.

Another bit of good news is that Eric Staal is continuing to play like he can. He looks like he's having fun again. He looks like he wants to take control of games again. I like it.

The "official" three stars went to Thomas (third), Ward (second) and Staal (first). Not a lot happened in this game, so I can't really argue with those. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Tim Thomas, BOS -- 27 saves
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR -- 19 saves, shutout

Carolina will return home for a two game stand. Thursday, they'll take on the Devils and Saturday they'll host the Avalanche

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