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

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Carolina loses game, lead

On Tuesday night, Carolina and Toronto -- two teams headed in the wrong direction -- met, giving the Canes a perfect opportunity to right the ship. Unfortunately, they couldn't get the job done, losing 5-4 to the Leafs. Meanwhile, the Thrashers throttled the Red Wings 5-1.
The Carolina loss plus the Atlanta win means that both teams have 48 points in the standings. Since the Thrash have a game in hand, this puts them in first place in the Southeast Division. Put either of these teams in any other division, and they're bringing up the rear.

Tomas Kaberle (power play), Chad Kilger, Matt Stajan (power play), Alex Ponikarovsky and Ian White all scored for the Leafs. The Ponikarovsky goal was his first point since his colossal breakdown in Carolina last month which allowed Carolina back in the game instead of icing it

Sergei Samsonov (power play), Andrew Ladd, Erik Cole and Rod Brind'Amour all scored for the Hurricanes. The Samsonov goal was his first since joining the Canes four games ago. In fact, it was his first goal this season and the first in almost a full year. The little guy also added two assists, bringing his point total to four (1/3) in four games.

Erik Cole's goal was one of the prettiest I've seen it quite some time. He exploded through neutral ice, fought off two Leafs skaters using his speed and strength and beat Vesa Toskala easily for his 11th goal of the season.

This hasn't been the best season for Colesy, but he's looked really good in the last few games. Vintage Cole. He's finishing his chances, unlike earlier in the season when he'd make a weak shot on goal after some dazzling moves to create a breakaway.

There was a horrible, horrible officiating call in the third period which eventually led to the Ponikarovsky goal. Mats Sundin was entering the Carolina zone with some backchecking from Dennis Seidenberg. Sundin was tripped by the linesman, and it was clear as day, but Seidenberg's stick was in the vacinity, so he got called for tripping. Ponikarovsky scored one second after the penalty expired, but before Seidenberg could join the play.

Later in the third, Ian White was allowed to leave the penalty box six seconds early for some reason, and he played a key role in relieving the pressure the Canes were applying. That one didn't really matter, but I thought the "trip" to Seidenberg was absolutely horrible.

In the second period, the Canes were the benefactor of a questionable call when Toskala's stick got tangled up with Eric Staal. He was whistled for interference and the Canes scored on the ensuing power play. I think it was an iffy call, and it hurt the Leafs, but the Seidenberg thing was way beyond iffy.

Still, at the end of the day, it isn't the referees' fault that the Canes gave up five goals and scored one less than that. The goaltending has got to get better. The defense has to get a lot better. The forwards are getting better (and healthier).

Carolina, who has now lost three in a row and has fallen out of first place, will not find the road any easier to hoe going forward. They've got the Senators in Ottawa on Thursday.

Michael Leighton needs to learn to play deeper in the crease and to protect the posts better. The defensemen can't let the opposing skaters have free reign in front of and around the net.

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