The Carolina Hurricanes fell behind quickly again as they allowed three goals in the first period while only generating three shots on goal, but they fought back and tied the score before eventually losing to the New York Islanders in overtime, 4-3. Brandon Sutter earned two assists, his first two point game in the NHL, and Tuomo Ruutu scored another goal, his third in the last two games, and hit everything in sight to lead the home team.
It seemed for awhile like the Hurricanes might finally put an end to their prolonged winless streak, but instead failed to win for the 14th consecutive game.
The game had another less than auspicious start for the home team as Tim Gleason took a roughing penalty less than three minutes into the game, then mouthed off on his way to the box for an unsportsmanlike penalty on top of it. The Islanders took full advantage by scoring two powerplay goals during the four minute penalty kill sequence.
John Tavares knocked a puck out of midair into the net which came bouncing off the end glass for the first goal. Mark Streit rifled a shot in from the blueline for the second.
Aaron Ward would get called for tripping at about the 11 minute mark and Tavares would score again, just after Ward stepped out of the box to make it an even strength tally. The Canes could only muster three shots on goal, after just putting two shots on net in the opening period during Wednesday night's game.
There was a lot of grumbling in the press box between periods as most felt that the game was as well as over, but apparently Carolina had other ideas. They came out in the second period with some zip and drew a penalty at about the 8 minute mark which gave them the advantage.
Paul Maurice put Bryan Rodney and Brandon Sutter on the ice for the powerplay and they did not disappoint. Tuomo Ruutu put in a shot for the goal, but both youngsters picked up assists. Sutter created the opportunity by getting in Martin Biron's kitchen on the play.
The home team would score again in the period after Ray Whitney re-directed an Andrew Alberts shot into the net. The crowd was really into the game by then and the team had some life as well as some hope. Late in the period, Blake Comeau was called for high sticking, which drew blood on Erik Cole.
The Canes would have over three minutes of powerplay time with fresh ice to begin the third period, but could not take advantage. The Islanders killed the opportunity and took back the momentum. It had turned into an entertaining game though and the Hurricanes continued to try to tie things up.
With about four to five minutes left in the contest, Tim Gleason lost his edge and took a nasty tumble into the end boards. He got up very slowly and was limping, but did not immediately leave the ice. When he did make it to the bench, most folk probably thought that his night was over, but he returned to the game and with two and a half minutes left, rifled a seeing eye shot past Biron to tie the game.
Carolina was buzzing after that score and tried to win the game before regulation, but the Islanders had the best opportunity when a puck got past Legace at the other end. The goalie was down and out and had no idea where the puck was, but it was dangerously close to the goal line. Joni Pitkanen saved the day when he took out the closest Islander who was reaching for the puck.
There were just a few seconds left on the clock. If that puck would have gone in, what a buzz killer that would have been.
The game went to overtime and the Islanders had the better chances, but Manny Legace was equal to the task. With overtime winding down, Bryan Rodney tried to clear the puck into the middle of his own zone and Kyle Okposo jumped all over it. He stole the puck, drove the net, and beat Legace with just 15 clicks left in the extra period for the game winner.
The Canes earned a point and they played better, but the streak continues.
- It was the first game of the year in which Carolina out-scored their opponent in the second period.
- Ruutu's powerplay goal ended a 0-24 man-advantage drought. As mentioned before, two ex-Rats had the assists.
- Ruutu was a beast in this game and was credited with nine hits, six shots on goal, and two takeaways. He led the team in all three categories. Erik Cole had eight hits.
- Rodney was apologetic after the game for his big mistake. He said that he let his teammates down. But the rookie collected his first NHL point and certainly had more positive than negative for the night. Maurice said after the game that he told Rodney not to let the play bother him because he did not want the defenseman to dwell on it. You can forgive a rookie for making that mistake because sometimes the vets on the team have been doing the same thing as well.
- Ruutu set up Rodney for a perfect open chance right in the slot during the extra period, but the blueliner said he barely saw the puck coming and could not get good wood on it. He would love to have another chance at that one though.
- The Canes were not called for a penalty during the second period, just the sixth penalty-free period for them the entire season. (They were called for a penalty in the third)
- Aaron Ward played the fewest minutes, (10:13) of any of the defensemen. He was limping after the game and was obviously hampered by something.
- Chad LaRose played one of his best games of the season. He looked more like his old self, was buzzing around the net making a pest of himself, and came very close to making a couple of scoring plays. He ended up with an assist, four shots on goal, and five hits.
- Niclas Wallin seemed to play better alongside Pitkanen, although he looked lost during the second Tavares goal. He made one very nice hustle play as he caught up to an Islander on a breakaway and hip-checked him out of the play.
Scott Walker made himself available for the game after it was expected he would sit out because of a wrist injury. Maurice went with seven defensemen anyway and benched Tim Conboy. Walker finished with just 4:47 of ice time. Tom Kostopoulos also had 4:50 of time on the ice. Stephane Yelle sat out as expected.
Next up for the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon is a Minnesota Wild team which also beat them previously during this long streak. More about that later.
Brandon Sutter and Bryan Rodney gave post game interviews shown below.