The Atlanta Thrashers walked the line and played a clean game Saturday night in Raleigh while the Hurricanes were the ones who got themselves into trouble with a variety untimely penalties. Erik Cole took 2 holding calls himself in the 1st period alone, the second of which cost the Canes a goal as Glen Metropolit was able to sneak an open shot past Cam Ward to put the Thrashers ahead 2-1 with just a minute left in the 1st period. To backtrack a bit, the Thrasher's Scott Mellanby opened the scoring with a shot just 3 minutes into the game. (2:54 to be exact). Justin Williams was able to answer shortly afterwards for the Canes, but then came the consecutive, undisciplined penalties by Cole. The Canes finished the period not only losing on the scoreboard 2-1, but also were losing the battle of shots on goal, 10-5, even though they came out aggressively and seemed to be "into" the game. It's hard to muster shots on goal, get good scoring chances, and generate any momentum though while you are killing penalties!
In the 2nd period the Thrashers were the ones who were taking penalties, but the Canes couldn't capitalize. They did manage a score between the penalties though as Cole found an open Ray Whitney sneaking behind the defense and The Wizard buried the shot, tying the score 2-2. In the third period the Canes came out on a mission, ready to put away the tired team who had just played the night before. Just 27 clicks into the period, newbie Dennis Seidenberg ripped a shot into the crease that hit a couple of players but somehow found it's way over the goal line. Nice play Dennis and congratulations for getting your first goal with the organization! The Canes dominated play for a short period of time here, and then the wheels fell off. They took 3 more undisciplined penalties, one of them another of the inexcusable "too many men on the ice" infractions. While the Thrashers failed to score on any of the powerplays, the fact that the Canes were on the penalty kill so much again took away from any offensive momentum that they were attempting to generate. At the midpoint of the 3rd, Bobby Holik rifled a shot from just inside the blueline which fooled Cam Ward and tied the score. After the game Cam admiited he was fooled, should have made a play on the puck, and took sole responsibility for the loss. Thanks Cam for admitting your mistake, but the blame for the loss does not fall completely on your shoulders. The Canes failed to really mount any decent offensive pressure the remainder of the third and couldn't take advantage of the fact that Atlanta played the night before and were more tired than they were. Carolina could only muster 6 shots on goals for the entire 3rd period. That's just not good enough if you want to beat one of the best teams in the league!
In overtime, Kovalchuk had a couple of really nice opportunities that Cam Ward stoned him on by making glove saves that even had the Russian sniper going "WOW". It was an exciting OT and Cole tried to get something going by using his patented power move a couple of times. It appeared that he was mugged or at least tripped on one move specifically, but there was no call as it appeared the refs had swallowed their whistles for the OT. Kerry Fraser proved that the refs didn't swallow their whistles though when he called Nic Wallin for hooking with 25 seconds left in the OT period. This brought a plethora of loud complaints from the Canes bench including the slamming of a stick by Cole who was immediately given a 10 minute misconduct. The hooking call was an obvious call but what bothered Cole and the Canes was the lack of a call (or calls) on their end of the ice. Regardless, in my opinion Cole had been chirping at the refs the whole game and was certanly not in their good graces. They aren't going to call a penalty on the defense each and every time he drives the net, even if there is one. He's got to learn to shut his mouth, period. His constant barking probably cost him the call which should have been made in the OT. Getting in the refs ear and letting them know that they missed a call is one thing, but barking and whining at them all game long is quite another. In my opinion, Cole's lack of discipline, as well as the other Canes who took penalties, were the primary reasons for this loss. All in all it was a very good game filled with intensity, hard play, and drama. The game could have gone either way and those are the types of games where penalties kill you. Especially the meaningless, brainless ones that the Canes committed.
Oh yeah, then there was a shoot out. Same results, different night, no contest. Canes lose 4-3.
Okay, enough of the ranting and now some positive notes. The crowd was at it's loudest point after the Canes killed a crucial 5 on 3 disadvantage. When I say loud, I mean pretty darn loud! Good for the crowd for appreciating the hard play and rewarding the Canes with the cheers at a key time in the game. Also, a shout out of props to the "Nasty Nest" of Thrasher fans who were sitting down at the north end. It's nice to see the support for our Southeast rivals! While they cheered loudly and proudly for their boys, there were no problems reported such as unruly behaviour, fighting, or any other problem. Those are the types of visitors you don't mind welcoming back, win or lose! As far as I'm concerned, the Nasty Nest is welcome back anytime.
That's all for now, Go Canes!