The Carolina Hurricanes totally dismantled the Atlanta Thrashers last night, 5-3 in a game that was not as close as the score. The Canes came out of the dressingroom fired up from the get-go and took it to the faltering Atlanta club all night long. After watching the Thrashers' effort last night, it looks like Marian Hossa's days in Atlanta will be coming to an end very soon.
The Hurricanes put 21 official shots on goal in the 1st period alone and the score could have easily been 2 or 3 to nothing. They didn't break the scoresheet though until early in the 2nd when Eric Staal made a nice extra effort play and nudged the puck from behind the net to Ray Whitney who fired it in, giving the Canes a well deserved lead.
After that, the defensemen got involved as Tim Gleason found Ryan Bayda at the side of the net for one goal and Frank Kaberle found Sergei Samsonov in about the same spot as Sergei angled the puck in off of his skate.
The Thrashers scored a couple of goals to keep things interesting, but the Canes had things well in hand and probably more than tripled the puck possession time of their opponent's for the game.
Scott Walker fired in a beautiful goal early in the 3rd period, then shortly afterwards found Keith Aucoin all alone in the slot area and Aucoin made no mistake with the perfect pass from Walker. The line of Walker, Aucoin, and Bayda was buzzing all night and they certainly deserved their excellent results on the scoresheet.
One can't say enough about Scott Walker, a grisly veteran who has been "stuck" playing with a couple of career AHL'rs. Some players in his position might have complained or had a bad attitude about their situation, but not Walker. He's thrived playing with Keith Aucoin and Ryan Bayda and has raised his game to another level. Scott had a 3 point night last night and was named the game's number one star.
After that, anyone could have been named a star because once again it was a total team effort for the entire game. The team has really come together and played their hearts out since the Brind'Amour injury, when they could have easily folded the tent and called it a season. There has been very little to complain about at the RBC lately, as far as effort is concerned.
While Jim Rutherford mentioned that he was shopping for an experienced NHL center (Michael Peca?), to fill in for the rest of the season, one almost hates to see the chemistry of this current crew messed with.
The Canes now have a 4 point lead in their division over 2nd place Washington and are now 5 points in front of Atlanta. The Caps still have 3 games in hand though, so things are far from being settled. There's another important game Saturday when the Capitals come to town and the Hurricanes could virtually erase any possible affect of those games in hand.
The game has an early start time of 5PM and it is Military Appreciation night. More about that later. TGIF!