The Lightning were thunderstruck Saturday night! The Hurricanes stopped their bleeding with a win, and now the Boltz need the tourniquet. Both teams played a good game and both goalies made multiple amazing saves to keep their respective teams in it, but the Canes played a bit better and Cam Ward turned out to be more clutch than Marc Denis. The end result was, Carolina 3 Tampa Bay 2.
This game was very important to the Canes for so many reasons besides the obvious one, ending the 5 game losing streak. They needed to prove they could win a game without Rod Brind'Amour. They needed to prove that they could win face offs. They needed to prove that they could maintain decent pressure and effort for a continuous 60 minutes in a game which was the 2nd half of a back to back. This was on a travel day no less, and when the Boltz had the previous night off. Well, they proved all points and then some!
In the 3rd period, which is usually the toughest for a team playing 2 in a row, they took charge and did not relinquish the momentum. Ray Whitney scored 2 goals.Â The first one was in the 2nd period after a nice piece of boardwork and pass from Keith Aucoin, and the 2nd was later in the next period on a perfect break out feed from Justin Williams. In between them, Eric Staal scored a goal himself on a put back of a rebound shot off of a beautiful move by Erik Cole which hit the post, hit Denis, and then was eventually stuffed in by Staal. There was a worrisome moment when Cole lifted the puck out of play for another penalty in the last minute, giving the Lightning a power play, which of course they took full advantage of. I don't know how many times we have done that this year but it's been a ton, and the other team usually scores when we do it! I won't make any other complaints about this win though, which was hard fought, well deserved, and so very important. Hopefully, the Canes can build on this win and start some sort of streak when they play the Flyers on Tuesday.
Speaking of Keith Aucoin, the recent call up continues to impress while logging 3rd line minutes with Ray Whitney and Scott Walker. I don't think his line mates are complaining either! While initially being surprised by the additional minutes he was playing over LaRose, Adams, and Adams, he does seem to have more offensive skill and upside than those three do. Not only that, but the kid can hold his own in the face off circle as well. He won 3 out of 4 Saturday night and 7 out of 9 the previous night. Not too shabby! Although it was reported in the News and Observer today that Ron Francis was in Albany and took the kid aside to give him some face off tips. Apparently, not bad advice there!! The rest of the team picked up their accuracy as well as Staal was 14-24, Letowski was 7-10, and Belanger was 9-14. As a team the Canes were 35-59 for 59%, the first time as a team they won the face off battle since Brindy was hurt.
Great job boys! Keep it up!