The Carolina Hurricanes completely out-played the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, defeating them by a score of 4-1. The Canes held their opponent to only one shot on goal the entire first period and ended up out-shooting them for the game, 41-13.
Eric Staal started out the scoring with a nice wrist shot which made it past Tampa goalie Mike McKenna. The first period goal stood up as the difference maker until Vaclav Prospal tied it up just a minute and change into the second period.
Even though the Canes had dominated the Bolts up to this point, fans were a bit nervous because the score was close and did not indicate the true flow of the game. The Canes were missing open net opportunities and squandered several scoring chances, including a couple of break-aways.
Hard work prevailed though as later in that period Rod Brind'Amour forced ex-Hurricane Josef Melichar into a costly turnover and the puck squirted out to an open Jussi Jokinen. The Finn made no mistake and scored his first goal as a Hurricane. The tally made the score 2-1 and ended up being the eventual game-winner.
The third period was a penalty filled mess for Tampa Bay. Just three minutes into it, they had three players in the box at one time, giving the Hurricanes two separate 5 on 3 advantages. Thanks to bullets fired by Joe Corvo, the Hurricanes scored on both of them. (Kudos to Tuomo Ruutu who was in front of the net on each shot). Ray Whitney picked up assists on both goals as well.
The rest of the game went by without anymore scoring, but things did get chippy from time to time. Although it seemed like the Canes handled the physicality much better with the presence of Tim Conboy than they did in previous games without him, (like for instance against Boston).
Carolina successfully ended their three game losing streak at home and drew within a single point of both Buffalo and Florida, who were both idle. Next up is Colorado on Sunday for a matinee game at the RBC.
Tim Conboy picked up his second consecutive fighting major in as many games as he took on arch nemesis Steve Downie. Downie had claimed that Conboy bit him in a brawl earlier this season in the AHL. Conboy is already under contract for next year, (a one way deal), so he will more than likely be the full-time enforcer for the team.
Does it seem to you like the team plays better with Conboy in the lineup? The Canes are 4-0-3 this season when he plays and were 13-3-2 last season. Coincidence?
Eric Staal scored his team leading 27th goal. He had 5 shots on goal in the first period alone and ended up with 10 for the night.
Tuomo Ruutu led the team with 5 hits and once again, screened the goalie on both of the all-imporant shots by Joe Corvo.
Corvo's two goals give him 11 for the year, putting him in 7th place on the team. The stoic defenseman did not celebrate after either goal and when asked about it in the dressing room afterwards, he said that he had not been very happy about his game recently.
He was also asked about the missed chances and opportunities during the game and he responded that "the ice was terrible. It's about the worst ice in the league to play on". Reporters finally did get him to smile when they asked him how he would compare with Zdeno Chara at the All Star hardest shot competition. The defenseman chuckled and said that he was not even in the same league and could not get over 100 MPH on his shot. Mike McKenna would find that hard to believe.
Tim Gleason had a bit of a rough night handling the puck at times but it is assumed that he is not playing at 100% yet. He still managed 5 blocked shots and led the team in that category.
Rod Brind'Amour is starting to look a bit more like himself. His skating seems better and he had several good plays last night, including the assist on the game-winner.
Paul Maurice was satisfied with the win and had everyone laughing at the end of the press conference when he called Tim Conboy a good "swing man".