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

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Carolina wins big, gets no help from Buffalo

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes took care of things on their own end, beating Atlanta 6-3. They were hoping for some help from the Sabres, but got none as the Capitals took a 3-1 win there.

Like they have done so many times during their hot streak, Carolina surrendered the game's first goal. They responded by scoring the next four, then trading goals with the Thrashers until the final score was 6-3.

In front of a very sparse crowd that was generously counted as 13,032, Chris Thorburn got the Thrashers on the board at 4:21 with a wrist shot from the low in the left circle. Bobby Holik and Ilya Kovalchuk assisted on the play.

At 8:12, the Canes tied it. From the inside hashmarks of the left circle, Scott Walker re-directed a Frantisek Kaberle shot from the left point. Ryan Bayda was down in the goal mouth creating traffic, and was initially given credit for the goal, but it was later changed. Walker from Kaberle and Keith Aucoin at 9:12.

Bayda ended up getting on the scoreboard at 19:06 when he one-timed a shot from the right dot. Scott Walker got the only assist.

The first period ended with a Canes power play, which would carry over to the second.

The Hurricanes didn't need much time with the fresh sheet of ice to cash in on the power play. Just 27 seconds into the second frame, big Joe Corvo finished a pretty play, tapping one in from the right dot, making the score 3-1. The play was beautifully set up with a crisp pass from Sergei Samsonov in the left circle. Matt Cullen got the secondary assist.

After this, things got a little crazy. At around the 10:00 mark of the second period, Carolina appeared to have scored a crazy lucky bounce, as the puck went in from well beyond center ice. However, the "goal" was immediately waved off because the crazy bounce that it took was off the referee's skate. No goal can be scored directly off the referee.

Just a short time later, the Hurricanes got a goal that counted. As the Canes entered the Thrashers zone on a three-on-two break, Eric Staal dropped a pass for Erik Cole at the top of the left circle. Cole made no mistake, giving Carolina a 4-1 lead at 10:39. The secondary assist went to Kaberle. That would be the end of Kari Lehtonen's night. It also ended up being the game winner.

There was more crazy stuff with the officials. Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason got tangled up with a linesman along the dasher, causing a neutral ice turnover. Erik Christensen carried it in alone and beat Ward easily with an unassisted goal at 17:09 of the second.

There was even more crazy stuff with the officials. Early in the third period, while the Canes were applying a lot of pressure deep in the Thrashers' zone, Garnet Exelby carried the puck over to Johan Hedberg, hoping he would cover the puck and get a whistle. The refs wouldn't give a whistle and forced Hedberg to play the puck. The Thrashers never got the puck out of the zone and Carolina scored a really crazy goal about 30 seconds later. Eric Staal attempted a wrap from behind the goal. The puck went off Exelby's stick, off his helmet, then off Hedberg's helmet and behind him into the goal. A very improbable goal that may have been aided by the non-whistle. Officially, Staal from Cole and Trevor Letowski at 3:41 of the third.

Don Waddell flipped a lid. His face was about as red as the Hurricanes' pants. There was steam coming out of his ears. I actually thought he might either punch referee Mike Hasenfratz or have a heart attack. He screamed and stomped and carried on for a good two minutes without being reprimanded. Hasenfratz gave his explanation of why there was no whistle, but we never heard it.

The Thrashers weren't ready to quit. At 12:17 of the third, Kovalchuk redirected a Ken Klee shot to make the score 5-3. Klee and Alex Zhitnik had the helpers.

In the waning minutes, Atlanta had a hard time getting the puck deep enough to pull Hedberg. Just when they did, but before he could make it all the way to the bench, Eric Staal scored into the empty net with a long bomb from the referee's crease. Kaberle got the only assist.

For just a minute, Carolina had stretched their SE lead to five points. However, Washington beat the Sabres 3-1, which means their lead remains three points. Washington has a game in hand.

The "official" three stars were Erik Cole (third), Scott Walker (second) and Eric Staal (first). On TV, they went to Ryan Bayda (third), Scott Walker (second) and Frantisek Kaberle (first). The RBH stars are a bit different.

THIRD STAR Frantisek Kaberle, CAR --- 3 assists, +3
SECOND STAR Erik Cole, CAR --- GWG, assist
FIRST STAR Eric Staal, CAR --- 2 goals, 1 assist

Carolina will come back home to face the Northwest leading Wild Thursday, then the Sabres on Saturday.

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