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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Canes top Rangers in an action-packed game

On Tuesday night, Sean Avery and the New York Rangers came to town for a much anticipated game. Carolina was anxious to avenge their Boxing Day loss to the Rangers, and also to exact some revenge on Sean Avery and Colton Orr for their hits on Andrew Ladd and Matt Cullen, respectively.

I thought it might be physical, but I never imagined it would be anywhere near as violent as it was. Before the game even started, Scott Walker and Sean Avery were in a shoving match. The puck hadn't even been dropped, so both players should have been given misconduct penalties. However, the referees mysteriously gave out roughing penalties and nothing else.

Just a few seconds into the game Tim Gleason was penalized for hooking. On the ensuing 4-on-3 power play, Brendan Shanahan potted a goal at 1:02 of the first. Scott Gomez (down on the goal line) and Jaromir Jagr (in the right circle) played catch for a little while, then Gomez found Shanny in the slot for a nice-looking goal.

Wade Brookbank went toe-to-to with Colton Orr in round one of their two round bout. In the first round, Orr landed a couple of heavy shots that hurt Brookbank, then knocked him down. Round one was decisively Orr's.

Less than a minute after that, Scott Walker made a bad decision that caused all hell to break loose. He boarded Gomez (without getting called for it). Avery came from downtown Apex to go after Walker, then Timmay Gleason went after Avery. There was a lot of other pushing and shoving. Avery was given 17 minutes of penalties (2 for instigating plus five for fighting plus a ten minute misconduct). Walker got five for fighting, and Gleason was given the gate for being the third man in. At the time, I thought it was a really poor choice by Gleason.

Towards the end of the period, Orr and Brookbank went again. Round two was pretty much a wash, with a slight advantage to Brookbank. By the time the period was over, the Rangers had amassed 35 penalty minutes and the Canes had 31.

After they got all that Hanson Brothers stuff out of the way, the Canes settled down and played some "old-time hockey". It suits them much better to play their game than to try to be something they're not.

Sergei Samsonov got the Canes off and running at 6:07 of the second. After a badly missed shot by the Rangers, Ray Whitney was flying down the right wing on an odd man rush with Samsonov. He fed Sams with a nifty pass into the left circle, and Samsonov easily beat Lundqvist, who had overcommitted. It was Samsonov's eighth point (3/5) in nine games since joining the Canes.

Rod Brind'Amour put the Canes in front at 8:24 of the second. After the Rangers committed a sloppy turnover in the Canes end, Brind'Amour and Samsonov were off on a rush. Brindy skated it all the way in, made Lundqvist commit to Samsonov over on the left wing, then slammed it home for the lead. Mike Commodore picked up a phantom assist on the play.

There were just two penalty minutes per team in the second period. In the final minute of the period, the Rangers had some excellent scoring chances when Cam Ward lost his stick and they were able to keep it deep in the zone. Scott Gomez had a golden opportunity on an empty net with a stickless goaltender way out of position, but Nic Wallin and Glen Wesley both pinched in and held the left post. Wesley laid down to take away the shot, and Wallin was there anyway. It was a certain goal. 100%. Somehow, they couldn't hit the net, and the period ended 2-1.

Trevor Letowski notched an insurance tally at 3:40 of the third when Chad "Sharpie" LaRose hit him with a perfect pass through traffic to the high slot. "The Dude" wristed it in from there for his fourth marker of the season. LaRose and Bret Hedican got the assists.

Carolina committed two penalties in the final 75 seconds of the game. Since the Rangers pulled Lundbvist, they had a 6-on-3 situation for the final 20 seconds. During that final minute, and especially that final :20, Cam Ward made some sensational point-blank stops. Three of them in the last 12 seconds. He looked like the old Cam Ward out there. We haven't seen that in a while.

The "official" three stars went to Walker (third), Brind'Amour (second) and Ward (first). I'm not sure where the star for Walker came from. The RBH three stars:

THIRD STAR Nic Wallin, CAR -- 4 blocked shots
SECOND STAR Rod Brind'Amour, CAR -- GWG
FIRST STAR Cam Ward, CAR -- 34 saves, win

The news was even better, as Washington got blanked by Les Habitants, 4-0. That allowed Carolina to push their SE division lead to three points.

Carolina will host the Leafs on Thursday, then begin a five game road trip in the Iron City on Saturday.

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