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

Friday, March 21, 2008

Carolina wins again, widens lead

On Thursday, Carolina continued their fiery month of March with a shootout win over the Panthers. Although they allowed the Panthers to get one point, the important thing is that they got two of their own, padding their division lead.

Carolina's lead is now seven points over Washington and eight over Florida. Both teams have a game in hand. Even if one of those teams runs the table, Carolina can secure the division championship with a run of 3-2-1 down the stretch.

In typical fashion, Florida coach Jacques Martin was whining to the press before the game about how Carolina is a bunch of divers and how the officiating favors Carolina. In this game, though, Carolina had just two power plays. Florida had five. When they had their chances -- and they did -- they couldn't do anything about it.

Trevor Letowski got on the board early with a surprise shot from just inside the Florida blue line. Tomas Vokoun was surprised by it, or didn't see it. Whatever the case, it was a shot that he should have stopped, but it ended up beating him cleanly high on the blocker side. 3:22 was the time of the goal, and it was assisted by Glen Wesley and Nick Wallin.

The second period was filled with penalties against the Canes, but the penalty killers were amazing. Cam Ward was the best penalty killer, and he was sensational in the second frame. He had one save in particular against Olie Jokinen late in the period that was a highlight reel keeper. Ward had to explode from his right to left, stack the pads and made a sensational glove save from point blank range as Jokinen had made the "perfect" shot, getting it over the pads.

Steven Weiss broke up the shutout 22 seconds into the third, assisted by David Booth and Jay Bouwmeester. It was one of the few times all game where Cam Ward's rebound control wasn't great. Booth took a shot from the left circle that Ward knocked down into the slot. Weiss gathered it and deposited it into the far side of the net.

Florida had lots of late chances, including some power play time, but they couldn't take the lead, and on it went to overtime. Nothing notable happened in the overtime, and it went to shootout.

Carolina went first, and Jeff Hamilton was stopped. After the first Florida shooter went wide of the net, Sergei Samsonov scored. The second Florida shooter was stopped by Ward. Eric Staal got a cheap one to trickle through the pads of Vokoun, and the bottom of the third was unnecessary.

The RBH three stars were exactly like the "official" stars.

THIRD STAR Steven Weiss, FLA --- goal
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- 36 saves, shootout win
FIRST STAR Sergei Samsonov --- shootout winner

Carolina will be idle for the next four days, and the word on the street is that Peter Laviolette has told the boys to take some time for themselves. Washington will use their game in hand tonight against the lowly Thrashers. Then, a gigantic matchup in Raleigh on Tuesday.

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