Tonight the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 7-2 in a game that seemed to relieve about a month of frustration for the team and it's fans. Rod Brind'Amour was quoted before the game as saying that this was "gut check time". The team couldn't have answered the call any better.
Brind'Amour opened the scoring himself with a slick one-timer that beat Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon short side. The Captain gave himself a fist pump and much to this blogger's delight, looked a little bit ticked off. Sergei Samsonov and Erik Cole were credited with the assists. The line of Brind'Amour, Cole, and Samsonov had an excellent all around game.
The first period ended with the score 1-0, but the Canes pretty much dominated play and outshot the Oilers 14-5.
The 2nd period started out a bit slowly for Carolina and Edmonton took advantage. Rookie Sam Gagner hit the post with a sweet shot and the puck landed behind Cam Ward. Patrick Thoresen poked it in and got credit for the tying score.
The Hurricanes would pick up their intensity and increased pressure in the Oilers zone. Erik Cole hit the post on a shot that got the crowd out of their seats. Finally, Tim Gleason got his first goal of the season on a slap shot from the blue line that somehow found it's way into the net. Andrew Ladd deserves credit for creating havoc in front of the Edmonton goal and blocking Garon's view.
The period ended with Carolina up 2 to 1. Then came one of the best 3rd periods that I have seen at the RBC this season.
Eric Staal opened the scoring for the Canes on a nice wrap around chance. What struck me about the play was that Wade Brookbank was on the ice at the time, and he was irritating Sheldon Souray in front of the net. Instead of paying attention to Staal, Souray was busy hacking away with Brookbank.
Brookbank, the lone River Rat who is still in town was on the ice for 3 goals in just a little over 2 minutes of ice time! He would earn an assist on a Chad Larose goal, later in the period. It seemed like he was on the ice for more time than that.
At about the 9 minute mark, Frantisek Kaberle found Eric Staal streaking at center ice all alone. Staal gathered the puck and broke to the clear but was held up before he could get his shot off. A penalty shot was awarded and the crowd went wild. Staal buried the shot, making the score 4-1 and the rout was on.
The next goal was on beautiful skill play involving Brind'Amour and Samsonov. The Captain had the puck to the left of Garon, but held it looking for a pass. An Edmonton defenseman went down to block it, but Brind'Amour lifted the puck over to Samsonov who was on Garon's right. Samsonov was able to get his stick on the elevated puck and guide it into the goal to make the score 5-1.
Chad LaRose got the next goal on a congested play in front of the Oilers net. Matt Cullen and Brookbank were credited with the assists. Mattieu Garon slammed his stick in disgust and was lifted in favor of Dwayne Roloson at that point.
The Oilers would score one more meaningless goal before Chad LaRose unselfishly fed Eric Staal a very sweet pass to help Staal complete his hat-trick with just 20 seconds left in the contest. Canes 7, Oilers 2.
Some thoughts from Bubba's Bloggers Box....
It's hard to say anything negative about this game because it was about the most complete game the team has played all year. Could the reason be because Edmonton is not very good, or is this team still capable of being dynamic when they need to be, or want to be? I guess we will find out in the near future when they play Monday afternoon on the Island in New York.
The 3 stars were Sergei Samsonov, Rod Brind'Amour, and Eric Staal and I agree wholeheartedly. Samsonov is looking more and more like a great pickup. He's playing at both ends of the rink and adds some much needed skill to the mix.
Erik Cole was a beast again tonight, even if he didn't score a goal. Scott Walker played a good game as well. Actually, the whole team played very well. The defense only allowed 18 shots on goal, an outstanding number. Glen Wesley was still blocking shots and taking a beating on a penalty kill with the Canes already up 5-1 at the time. Bret Hedican was plus 4, but Tim Gleason had him beat with a plus 5.
Caniacs can celebrate this victory, at least for a little while. With this win and the Atlanta loss in Buffalo, (10-1), Carolina is back in 1st place in the division, for now. The 4 game losing streak is over and the talk of impending trades, releasing players, and firing coaches can take a break for a bit.