The Carolina Hurricanes had their four game winning streak come to an end last night as they dropped a tough game to Chicago, 3-2, in a shootout. Tuomo Ruutu tied the game up with just 27 seconds left on the clock, but after a scoreless overtime the young Blackhawks prevailed in the shootout to take the all important second point.
The Canes jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the opening period, even though the Blackhawks controlled play. Sergei Samsonov found a wide open Rod Brind'Amour and the captain extended his goal scoring streak to three straight games.
Cam Ward was kept very busy in this affair but was equal to task most of the game. He made a couple of spectacular saves, especially on two separate breakaway attempts by Patrick Kane.
The Hawks outshot the Canes 14-8 in the first period, but went to the dressing room at the wrong end of the 1-0 score.
In the second period things tightened up, but the Canes lost Joni Pitkanen to an injury and the blueline suffered for it. The defenseman had recently missed a couple of games previously because of a bad shoulder, but it's unknown what the problem might be this time.
Carolina was able to hold onto their lead until late in the second when Kris Versteeg lit the lamp for the home team to tie things up. While the shots on goals were even for the period, (10-10), it seemed like Chicago had the better chances.
The Hawks took the lead in the third period while Tuomo Ruutu was in the box serving a four minute high sticking penalty which drew blood. Ruutu had been called for diving earlier in the game, and had not been having one of his better nights up to that point. The home team was able to wear down the Hurricanes penalty kill as they crashed the net and scored in the later half of the four minutes.
The rest of the third period went back and forth with Chicago still seeming to get the better chances. But the Canes finally got a break when Jonathan Toews was called for hooking with just over a minute left. Carolina pulled Ward out of the net and applied pressure, and perhaps for the first time this season, they scored to tie a game late in the contest.
The puck went into the corner, then popped out with Eric Staal battling for it all the way. He was somehow able to push it over to Ray Whitney, who patiently found Ruutu in front of the net. The ex-Hawk made no mistake and tied things up with 27 clicks left.
Once again, Chicago had more chances in overtime, but Cam Ward was equal to the challenge. The goalie finished with 39 saves on 41 shots for his efforts. The Hurricanes finished with 31 shots on goal.
As well as Ward played in regulation, his shootout performance was a nightmare. Every Chicago shooter scored on him except for Dave Bolland who had him faked out, but drew iron with his shot.
The Canes hung tough though as Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen scored, but Matt Cullen was stopped, Sergei Samsonov lost control of the puck, and Chicago earned the victory.
The team definitely missed Pitkanen and the defense looked worn out at times in the third. Frank Kaberle might have to play tonight.
There were at least a couple of questionable calls by the refs. Ruutu might have just fallen down when he was called for diving. He and Erik Cole will blow a tire for no apparent reason from time to time, but that doesn't mean they are divers. Also, later in the game during a Chicago powerplay, one of the Hawks definitely closed his hand on the puck. He went to shovel it off in one direction, but changed directions and tossed it the opposite way. Apparently, the refs never saw it.
Erik Cole led the team with 4 hits. Ruutu was only given credit for one all night. Eric Staal had six shots on goal, tops for the Canes.
It was a tough game in a difficult place to play and the team came out with a point. It could have been worse.
No rest for the weary as next up is a game in the "Big D" tonight. Should Cam Ward take a night off or continue playing?