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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Carolina solves Brodeur, keeps hot streak going.

On Tuesday night, Carolina defeated New Jersey 2-1 in overtime to get a much needed two standings points. This was a huge test for a team playing without its Captain for the rest of the season. Carolina answered the challenge and then some.

Earlier this month, Carolina lost two ugly games in Newark. They also lost an ugly game at home to the Devils in January. In all, the Canes were 0-3 against the Devils and were outscored 15-3. Carolina was trying to avoid the sweep. They were also trying to protect their five point SE lead. They were also trying to continue their hot streak at home, and their hot streak overall. They accomplished all of that.

Carolina's newest member, Tuomu Ruutu nearly didn't make it. After being traded for Andrew Ladd, Ruutu's flight from Chicago to Raleigh was delayed for several hours. His flight finally landed 36 minutes before gametime. He was given a police escort to the arena, and he was dressed in time for the puck drop.

Right away, he made a mark. He delivered a huge hit in just his second shift. The rest of the first period was chippy. Defenseman Tim Gleason left the game with a "head injury" after being boarded. A scuffle ensued, then later in the period a fight and some other extracurricular activity.

Afer a scoreless first, Bret Hedican got the second period off on the wrong foot. Just as he did against Washington on Saturday, a committed a miscue which led directly to a goal. This time, he deflected a Brian Gionta shot into his own net. Gionta was given credit for an unassisted goal at 1:50 of the second. His "shot" from the right circle would have been well off net, but Hedican's stick redirected it off the left post and in.

Sergei Samsonov leveled the score at 5:57 with a power play goal. After some good stuff at the points from Matt Cullen and Joe Corvo, Keith Aucoin snuck down low and took a shot from the right dot, which was handled by Martin Brodeur. Samsonov jumped right on the rebound and wristed it in from the top of the goalie crease. Ruutu got the secondary assist. His first point in his first game with the Canes.

The rest of the second was a defensive battle, and the third was more of the same.

Ruutu was caught by an inadvertant high stick late in the third, which opened a cut above his nose. If it had been detected by the officials, it would have been a four minute minor. However,it wasn't. Credit the officiating crew for refusing to give a "make-up" call. I'm not, and never have been a fan of that.

The game went into overtime, and the Canes knew that at the very least, they would get one standings point.

Just 1:36 into the bonus frame, Samsonov struck again. He accepted an awkward bank pass from Scott Walker along the right wing, handled the bouncing puck and took a shot on Brodeur. The shot was handled, but the rebound was not. Samsonov tapped it into the left corner for the win. Walker and Hedican got the helpers.

Samsonov was, and continues to be amazing. He's now got five (3/2) points in his last three games. In 22 games with Carolina, he has 18 (9/9) points. He earned the first star.

The "official" and the RBH three stars are identical:
THIRD STAR Tuomo Ruutu, CAR --- 1 assist, 3 hits, 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- win, 23 saves
FIRST STAR Sergei Samsonov, CAR --- 2 goals, GWG, 2 takeaways

Washington got ahead early and won their game, which put pressure on Carolina. The big win for Carolina does so many things, but the most important is that it helps them maintain a five point cushion in the SE division with just 16 games to play.

This was the fourth of six straight home games for Carolina. They have gone 3-0-1 in those games. They have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight home games, and they have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games overall. Right now, they are a flaming hot team. Included in that is the 5-1-1 they have gone since Captain Rod Brind'Amour tore his ACL.

The Canes will take on the Rangers on Thursday, then will finish the homestand against the new-look Lightning on Saturday.

On March 12, there will be a special treat when Carolina visits Chicago. By then, Kevyn Adams is expected to be back in the Blackhawks lineup. If all goes well, the former Canes Kevyn Adams, Craig Adams and Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup. They might even be on the same line.

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