Last night the Carolina Hurricanes figured out a new way to lose a hockey game. Well technically, they lost because of familiar reasons. They had consistently poor, loose defensive play in their own zone and it ended up killing them. But at least they did it after scoring an elusive first goal of the game and they did it after blowing a 2 goal lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
As the game started, Colorado came out of their dressing room full of fire and opened up an 11-1 shots on goal advantage. But at the 8 minute mark, Erik Cole broke free from the Avs defense, received a beautiful long pass from newcomer Sergei Samsonov, and deked out goalie Jose Theodore to give the Canes a 1-0 advantage.
Later in the opening period, River Rats captain, Keith Aucoin rifled a slap shot past Theodore, and most Caniacs must have felt like the rout was on. The goal was the 2nd for Aucoin, now scoring in consecutive games for Carolina. Another River Rat, Tim Conboy earned his first ever NHL point assisting on the play. The period ended with Carolina up 2-0, even though the Canes were outplayed and outshot for much of the period.
The 2nd period was an excellent one as fans were entertained with non stop, fast paced up and down action. Milan Hejduk opened the scoring for Colorado in the opening minute. The Hurricanes answered quickly though as Chad LaRose tipped in yet another dangerous Keith Aucoin shot, keeping Carolina's lead at 2.
The 3rd line of Chad LaRose, Keith Aucoin, and Craig Adams was buzzing all night and had an excellent game.
At about the 10 minute mark the Avs were able to score again, this time by Paul Stastny to make the score 3-2. Carolina was still aggressive though and the team was able to draw a penalty. After turning the puck over 2 consecutive times trying to make perfect passes in the Avs zone, at the end of the powerplay during a line change Cory Stillman rifled the puck at Theodore almost as if in frustration. The puck handcuffed the shaky Colorado goalie and went in, making the score 4-2 and giving the Canes some much needed breathing room.
This play was a perfect example of why, generally speaking, they need to put more pucks on net. So often Brind'Amour, Cole, Stillman, and others are so busy trying to make the perfect pass that they end up not even getting a shot off on rushes and powerplays. Theodore was as shaky as they come in net last night, they should have put more shots on him.
The 3rd period started out with the Canes leading 4-2. The Avs started their scoring at the 10 minute mark with a wrap around attempt by Cody McLeod. Inexplicably, Frantisek Kaberle was standing right there on the play and did absolutely nothing to stop the goal scorer. Canes 4, Avs 3.
About 3 minutes later, Marek Svatos put in shot, tying the game. Svatos had all day to ready himself for the shot as each of the Hurricanes on the ice seemed mesmerized into standing still on the play. About 2 minutes after that, Svatos slapped in some loose change for yet another goal, and just that quickly Carolina's lead had transformed into a deficit.
Observations from Bubba's Bloggers Box...
The boys from Albany had another decent game. This need for replacements during the past couple of weeks is a perfect example of how important good depth is. I'm not sure that last year's shared AHL squad could have provided as much spark as these guys have been able to provide for the past several games. In my opinion, this year has shown ample evidence that the team should not be sharing their AHL affiliate with another franchise.
Rod Brind'Amour was credited with his 1100th career point last night on a secondary assist on the 1st period Cole goal. Congratulations to Rod.
Speaking of Brind'Amour, he seems to playing with an injury or sickness. His game has dropped completely off the shelf in recent weeks. Perhaps he needs some time off?
After watching Eric Staal dominate games in recent weeks, he was hard to pick out on the ice last night. That is, until his apparent missed defensive assignment on the game winner by Svatos.
Dennis Seidenberg's play has regressed in recent games. I would have said that Dennis was the "most improved" Carolina defenseman up until January 1st. Hopefully he can get back to making fewer mistakes.
Andrew Ladd is among the missing on the ice. Laviolette has cut his playing time lower and lower each game. Last night he played all of 4 minutes. What's up with that?
After the game captain Rod Brind'Amour seemed to blame the loss on the injuries and illnesses. Here is his quote from the News and Observer:
"There's not much you can say," Brind'Amour said. "It's pretty obvious what's going on. We're depleted, for sure. We don't have a margin for error. We don't have room to make mistakes. And at the end of the day, you've got to come back tomorrow and put your hard hat on and go back to work."
I agree that there is no room for mistakes, but to blame the loss on the "depletion" factor is a cop-out in my opinion. Rod, the stats don't agree with your assessment. The replacements from Albany played well, the regulars were the ones having troubles and making mistakes. Aucoin was +3 and Adams was +2 while Stillman was -3 and Staal was -2.
The good news for Carolina is that they are heading back on the road where they seem to enjoy playing their best hockey. The bad news is that they are playing a frustrated Toronto team and the Canes seem to be the cure for what ails frustrated teams right now. More about that later.
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