Erik Cole took another nasty tumble last night and was carted off the ice on a stretcher. John Forslund and Lorenzo Perez both reported that the injury didn't appear to be serious, but Cole was taken to Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida as a precaution. Erik was moving his extremities at the rink before he left for the hospital for further examination, but he was obviously in a lot of pain. While driving the net, he lost his footing and fell almost face first right into Tomas Vokoun, at full force. One thing about Cole, he sure seems to get himself in awkward positions on the ice. Hopefully, he will be back up and can return to his normal activities again, soon. Good luck to Erik, we wish him the best!
The Canes ended up winning another tight hockey game against the Panthers last night, 4-3. Justin Williams scored 2 very pretty goals, and Cory Stillman scored 2 that Vokoun would probably love to have back. It seemed as though Carolina should have and could have won this game easier than they did, yet they almost lost it. They had several (8?) powerplay attempts. They created several good scoring chances and had 36 shots on goal. To the Panthers credit, they had several good chances as well. The bottom line is that Carolina picked up 2 points on the road, which is never easy to do in this league. Even if the game was a little sloppy at times, the effort was there for the most part and the team deserved to win. I almost felt sorry for Florida, they had so many penalties called on them. The replays showed that most of the calls were legit though. If anything, they could have had even more calls against them. Can't that team play without hooking or holding someone? It's the new NHL boys, hands off and sticks on the ice!
Cory Stillman's first goal reminded me of one he scored against the Hurricanes, back when he played for Tampa Bay. It looked as though he was about to dump the puck into the offensive zone from center ice, but instead of dumping it, he rifled it into the wide open net! The net was open because Vokoun left early to stop the puck behind his net on the anticipated dump in. Stillman did the exact same thing to Kevin Weekes 3 -4 years ago, and some Caniacs were about to run Kevin out of town for making such a stupid move. I guess this proves that even very good goalies can make that mistake. Later in the period, Stillman scored the game winner from a very tough angle behind the goal line, as he banked his shot off of Steve Montador and into the net. The 2 goals gave Cory 11 for the year, while Justin Williams now has 8.
Cam Ward was up and down, but made some great saves when he needed to make them. The defense struggled a bit again, but Mike Commodore and Tim Gleason provided some much needed physicality. Commie had one perfect hit on Jokinen, a legal body check in the neutral zone which knocked him right on his keester. Olli took exception to it though and went right over to Mike and cross checked him in retaliation. That's just bad sportsmanship there. The win gave Peter Laviolette 200 career victories! Congrats to the coach!
UPDATE............I see that Erik was released from the clinic. His CT scan was negative and he is expected to join the team on their flight to Tampa. GREAT news! The team will continue to monitor his condition.