The Carolina Hurricanes scored on the first two powerplay attempts they had, scored another powerplay goal near the end of the second period, and then held on to defeat the New Jersey Devils last night, 4-2.
Anton Babchuk was the hero as he scored the all important first goal of the game as well as the game winner. The defenseman has been on a torrid streak of late and now has 11 points, (7 goals), in the last 14 games. He has also been one of the top plus/minus players in the entire league since the All Star break.
The Hurricanes started the game with a lot of jump and at one time they were outshooting the Devils by a 10-2 margin. They finally were able to get a puck past Kevin Weekes when they had a man advantage because of an interference penalty by Bryce Salvador. Rod Brind'Amour put the puck on net, Sergei Samsonov tried to tip it in, but Babchuk was pinching and knocked in the loose change.
The period ended with the score 1-0, but the Canes would score again just 1:25 into the second. Eric Staal rifled in a shot at a tight angle, this time with Brandon Shanahan in the box. It was the 34th of the year for the Carolina sniper. Ruutu and Cole picked up the assists.
The Devils would gather some momentum and put 17 shots on goal during the second period. They notched a goal themselves while on the powerplay at about the 13 minute mark when Zach Parise got one past Cam Ward. It was his 41st of the season.
But Anton Babchuk would answer yet again. Things got a little chippy and Salvador took two more penalties late in this period. With just 38 clicks left, Babchuk took a nice pass from Joni Pitkanen and blasted in a shot from the point.
About midway through the third, Sergei Samsonov would put the Canes up 4-1 which put the game out reach. Samsonov started the play by stealing the puck from out of the corner, and was helped out by some beautiful passing by Rod Brind'Amour and Jussi Jokinen.
Eventually, Brian Gionta would make things respectable for the Devils as he scored with about two minutes left while on yet another powerplay.
Cam Ward made 41 saves and had another outstanding game for the home team.
Speaking of home teams, the Canes have now won six in a row at home.
Of course Martin Brodeur was on the bench for this game, but the two teams meet twice more this season. Chances are good that the Canes will see him eventually.
The Devils had 13 blocked shots in the first period. Couple that with the Hurricanes 18 shots that did make it on net, and that is a lot of action in the New Jersey end during that opening period. Jersey finished with 21 blocks.
Jussi Jokinen seemed to fit in well with Samsonov and Brind'Amour. The Canes now have three solid lines which can all score at anytime which is bad news for opposing coaches as they try to figure out the best matchups.
Paul Maurice said after the game that the powerplay is clicking right now because both units are more confident. They are also moving the puck faster. Matt Cullen was recently moved to the point position and is playing alongside Corvo, while Pitkanen is matched with Babchuk at the backend of the other unit.
Erik Cole drew three penalties because of his hard work along the boards. He can be as agitating as Tuomo Ruutu when he is on his game. They both were credited with three hits each and Chad LaRose also had three.
Next up for the Canes will be a visit from the Islanders tomorrow night.