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Blues Power - Lightning 2 Hurricanes 1

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The Carolina Hurricanes powerplay went from tying a franchise record for most goals scored during their last game, to being completely ineffective in the 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The passion, chippiness, and edge that the team used to their advantage in dominating the Thrashers the previous night, also disappeared.

The game started out fairly well for Carolina as Trevor Letowski returned a favor to Chad LaRose and fed him the puck as LaRose was cutting toward the Lightning goal. The skater put a nice move on Karri Ramo and found the back of the net, giving the Canes a 1-0 lead late in the 1st period.

Tampa Bay came back as soon as the 2nd period started though as somehow, Jussi Jokinen inexplicably skated untouched through the center of Carolina's penalty kill unit and deked out Cam Ward to tie the score. The play reminded me of an earlier game in which the exact same thing happened. A skater went right through the center of the defense and no one picked him up.

About 5 minutes into the 3rd period, Jeff Halpern skated into the zone and fired what seemed to be a harmless shot on net that just happened to beat Cam Ward on the short side. The Carolina goalie had an excellent game up to that point, but he might want to have that shot back.

This was a weird game in that the Canes out-shot the Lightning in each and every period, including 12-3 in the 3rd, but it just didn't seem like many of the shots were of high quality. It's sometimes hard to tell from watching a game on television, but it also seemed like the team was lacking the intensity necessary to dominate this game they way they needed to.

In the meantime, the Washington Capitals didn't seem to have any trouble in winning their game, 3-0 in Sunrise. That win along with Carolina's loss cuts the division lead down to 2 points and makes the game in Washington on Tuesday night the game of the year so far, for both teams. The Hurricanes would clinch the division with a win, but a loss would force the Canes to win the rest of their games, if the Caps continue to win as well. While Carolina certainly remains in the driver's seat, things could get very dicey in this last week of the season.

Will Caniacs be singing the blues, or will the powerplay come back to life? More intense blogger thought and analysis coming early Monday morning.

Eric Clapton