The Carolina Hurricanes came out in the first period skating hard and never looked back as they defeated the Florida Panthers, 2-1 in overtime last night at the RBC. Not only did the Canes outshoot the Panthers in each and every period, but they held the advantage in time of possession and scoring chances as well.
In the opening period the Hurricanes had jump. The home team drew three penalties and had 16 shots on goal. They were finally able to grace the scoresheet on the third powerplay as Justin Williams scored his first goal in over a year. Williams found himself alone at the doorstep, made a couple of moves, looked for an opening, and with sharp-shooter precision flicked the puck past Tomas Vokoun.
The game remained 1-0 until the third period when Williams was attempting to make a play at the blue line while on another powerplay. His pass was intercepted just as Cory Stillman was leaving the penalty box and Kamil Kreps fed him perfectly. Stillman put his patented move on Cam Ward, and the goalie slid into the net along with the puck.
The score remained tied until late in overtime, when Joe Corvo improvised his way through the Panthers zone. At one point he was knocked down, but got up, slipped to the front of the net and backhanded a beautiful shot over Vokoun for the game winner. It was a highlight type of move that will probably be shown on several sports channels today.
Rod Brind'Amour recorded his 700th career assist on the play. Brind'Amour made a nice play keeping the puck in the zone, just earlier.
The Hurricanes have now earned points in their last six games, 3-0-3. They have also won three straight games at home. Carolina's record since the coaching change is now 3-1-3.
The Hurricanes had a total of 37 shots on goal while the Panthers had 20.
But this is not your father's Florida Panthers anymore. The visitors looked like a pretty good team. It's no wonder they won 5 of their last 6 road games before last night. David Booth is a beast.
In the second period, Tim Gleason did not like the way Greg Campbell checked Ryan Bayda and challenged him to a fight. Gleason pummeled him throughout.
Brandon Sutter had his first career NHL fight in the third. Noah Welch was roughing him up in the corner and Sutter turned to face him and they both squared off. No haymakers were thrown, but the rookie did not get hurt which is always a plus for a newbie. It's good to see the kid stick up for himself. Also, he has not looked timid at all since being knocked out by Doug Weight earlier this season.
Joni Pitkanen seemed to be living on the ice, but it was Dennis Seidenberg who led the team with over 32 minutes of TOI. Pitkanen always looks calm, cool, and collected out there and had another solid game. On one play, he single-handedly skated through four Panthers and was still able to get a decent pass off which almost resulted in a goal. The Finn led the team with 6 shots on goal.
Tuomo Ruutu had the most hits, (5).
The team played a great defensive game and blocked a total of 17 shots. Seidenberg led the way with 5 of his own.
The biggest difference that I can see since the coaching change? The team no longer looks lost in their own end. Remember when other teams used to hold the puck in the Carolina zone for minutes at a time? Remember when the Canes used to aimlessly throw the puck anywhere and everywhere in an attempt to clear it and they racked up countless icing calls? Those days seem to be gone now as the team looks more and more organized and proficient at passing and/or skating the puck out of their zone.
Next up for Carolina will be a trip to Boston, who has been nearly unbeatable at home this year.
Obviously, the team was happy in the locker room after the game. Eric Staal talks about Corvo's goal and the win.
Rod Brind'Amour is asked about his 700th assist. He talks about waiting for Corvo to shoot on the game-winner.
Joe Corvo talks about his goal. "You can't plan stuff like that. I thought there would be a goalie in net, I'm not sure where he went".