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

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Canes roll over Chicago

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes continued their torrid streak by shutting out the Blackhawks 3-0 in the United Center. Carolina got all the scoring they needed in the first period, then clamped down on defense to win a very convincing game over a desperate but tired team. While the Hurricanes had been off since Saturday, the 'Hawks were in Detroit on Tuesday.

Washington and Florida both won earlier in the evening, but Carolina's victory keeps their cushion at a comfortable seven points in the SE division. Washington has a game in hand, plus two of those "four point" games against the Canes. They are all "must win" games for the Caps. Florida also has two of the "four point" games.

Erik Cole got the scoring started at 8:57 of the first with a power play marker. All alone in the slot, his shot easily beat Corey Crawford for the game winner. Sergei Samsonov set it up nicely down below the goal line. Eric Staal got the secondary assist.

At 10:39 of the first, Matt Cullen cashed in on the second power play of the game. He pounded away at the rebound of a Staal shot until it found its way through Crawford.

Eric Staal capped a magnificent period with a breakaway goal from his backhand. Joe Corvo and Tuomo Ruutu assisted. It was Staal's 70th (34/36) point of the season and the third (1/2) point of the game.

Later in the first, Matt Cullen made a goal-saving play. While Cam Ward was down and out after making a save, a stuffback attempt fluttered through the crease. Cullen pounced on the loose puck and sent it out.

Ward had some help from the heavy metal on a few occasions, but the Hurricanes also hit a couple of posts. Although there were long periods of inactivity, Ward was sharp and made some very nice saves down the stretch on the way to his sixth career shutout.

The "official" three stars went to Patrick Kane (third), Cam Ward (second) and Eric Staal (first). Kane was obviously just a gratuitous pick. The RBH stars:

THIRD STAR Matt Cullen, CAR --- goal
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- 25 saves, shutout
FIRST STAR Eric Staal, CAR --- goal, 2 assists

Carolina has now won five games in a row and is in a situation where they can control their own playoff destiny. On Friday, they will visit Buffalo, who will be ready to avenge their loss here last Saturday.

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