What is it about Mellon Arena and the Carolina Hurricanes? In each of the past 3 years, someone has gotten badly injured and had to be assisted off the ice during a game there. Two years ago, Erik Cole suffered a broken neck. Last year Trevor Letowski was knocked out cold. This year, Scott Walker appeared to suddenly pull up lame, dropped to his knees, and had to be helped off the ice as his team-mates watched in shock. As I type this, no one is reporting anything specific about Walker's injury except that he's in a Pittsburgh hospital under observation. What's weird about this is that he was skating normally along the boards before suddenly pulling up limp. It could be a number of different ailments, but I'm not even going to hazard a guess. LSB is reporting that it could be a delayed reaction from a hit to the head Scottie suffered during an earlier collision with Jarkko Ruutu. Whatever it is, let's hope Scottie is okay. Obviously, his health is much more important than how this game turned out.
Speaking of the game, it was a good one. The Canes came out fired up and played pretty well, showing little if any rust from their long layoff. They were ahead 3-1 at one point and seemed to have the game pretty much in control until Walker got hurt. But the freak incident seemed to momentarily suck the life out of the Carolina bench. The Penguins took full advantage, scoring 2 goals within the last 2:06 of the 2nd period. I think that one negative aspect of the game for the Canes was the number of penalties that they took. In my opinion, the penalties really cost them this game. I'm not complaining about the refs either, because objectively speaking I think that Carolina could have easily been called for holding a couple of times late in the 3rd period when the Pens were applying pressure. Mike Commodore had his hands all over Crosby at one point and I believe there was another borderline incident let go as well. Penalty wise, the guys have got to play smarter.
Ray Whitney started the scoring off near the first minute mark of the game with a rocket of a shot, putting to bed any questions that this blogger had about his off season shoulder surgery. The Canes were able to generate quite a few chances, but backup goalie Dany Sabourin was equal to the task as he made several good saves. Late in the period, the Pens tied the score on a nice backhand shot by Petr Sykora. Carolina opened the 2nd period with Trevor Letowski netting his first goal of the season. Afterwards Justin Williams made the move of the night, skating in between 4 Penguins and rifling a shot past Sabourin unassisted. Then late in the period after Walker left the ice, the wheels feel off momentarily for the Canes. First, it looked like Williams put one in his own net while under heavy duress in Cam Ward's crease. Adam Hall got credit for the goal. Then the Canes took two bad penalties giving the Pens a 5-3 advantage, and take advantage they did! Petr Sykora put in a rebound with just 6 clicks left in the period, to tie the game 3-3.
After a pretty evenly played 3rd period, the game went to OT and neither team could finish it there. Next came the dreaded shoot-out, something the Canes failed miserably at last year. Would the acquisitions of Matt Cullen and Jeff Hamilton make a difference? To their credit both players put on a clinic, handily faking out Sabourin for easy goals. The problem was that Cam Ward looked like he suddenly forgot how to play his position. Each of the Penguins shooters scored easily, making "Wardo" look "sicko" in the process. Sidney Crosby put on the finishing touches, scoring the eventual game winner. After each of the previous 5 shooters scored, it was up to Ray Whitney to tie it up and send the shoot out to extra shooters. It wasn't meant to be though as Sabourin made a nice glove save on "The Wizard" and the Hurricanes had to settle for a point.
All in all, I thought it was a good game except for the penalties. They always frustrate me. Cam Ward played very well up until the shoot out. The scoring chances and shots on goal were pretty even. I think that the Canes would have won in regulation if Walker hadn't suffered his injury when he did, but that's part of the game. The Pens earned the win but the Canes should be given credit as well for hanging in there and picking up a point in a tough road environment against a pretty desperate team. Now they can move on to tomorrow night, which will probably even be a tougher test. For now though, let's just wish Scottie Walker a speedy recovery and hope he can return to his family soon.
Insane Clown Posse
Good news about Walker.Â LSB is reporting that his X Rays were negative and he's been released from the hospital.Â He's rejoining the team in Philly.