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Powerplay Woes Continue as Canes Fall to Habs, 3-2 in Shootout

The Carolina Hurricanes rebounded from a slow start, took the lead in the second period, but allowed a game tying goal in the game's final three minutes and eventually fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday night in Montreal.  The team had two powerplay chances in the third period and a very favorable 4 on 3 chance in overtime, but failed to capitalize. They ended up 0-5 on the powerplay for the game.

The loss leaves the Canes winless on the road this season.  They are the only team in the NHL who has yet to win a single game on the road.

The Canes fell behind about five minutes into the contest when Max Pacioretty slipped a puck by Michael Leighton, who was heavily screened on the play.  Neither team really seemed to be able to mount much offense as the Canes managed just six shots on goal while the Habs had five. 

In the second period Carolina scored on a couple of prime chances, even though they only had another six shots on goal.  Ray Whitney passed to a streaking Brandon Sutter who tipped the puck past Carey Price.   Sutter has been superb since his assignment to Raleigh and now has five goals in 11 games.   

About three minutes later, Matt Cullen found an open Jussi Jokinen and the red hot Finn buried a one-timer, giving the visitors the lead. 

While Montreal controlled play quite a bit after that, the Carolina defense and goaltending was up to the challenge.  Michael Leighton looked like he was gaining confidence after every save, but had to leave midway through the second period with a lower body injury.  Manny Legace came in his stead and continued the solid play in net.

At the end of the second period, the Habs had 21 shots on goals to just 12 for the Canes. 

In the third period, with the help of two powerplay chances, Carolina matched Montreal shot for shot, (13 shots each), but the Habs seemed to have more jump and they tied the score with just 2:46 left on the clock. 

The Hurricanes had a prime opportunity to end the game in overtime when Joe Corvo was knocked down with a high stick with just two minutes left.  There is a lot of open ice to work with when a team has a four on three chance, but the Habs stopped it with the help of Carey Price pushing and shoving everyone out of the crease, and the game went to a shootout. 

Manny Legace was solid in the shootout and did not allow a single goal until Maxim Lapierre scored on the sixth shot.  None of the Hurricanes shooters scored, although Matt Cullen made a beautiful move in the Hurricanes sixth position, but failed to lift the puck into the net. 

Give credit to Carey Price.  He looked strong and confident between the pipes.

The shooters for the Canes were, Tuomo Ruutu, Jussi Jokinen, Rod Brind'Amour, Sergei Samsonov, Bryan Rodney, and Cullen.  After the game, Paul Maurice was asked about some of his choices and he said that he went with the percentages.  He defended his choice of Brind'Amour by saying that the captain has done well throughout his career.  But it was mysterious why he left a red hot Brandon Sutter on the bench along with Ray Whitney, an experienced shootout performer who has done well in past. 

All in all, this is a game that the team probably feels like they should have won.  But they sat back a bit too much at times and allowed the Canadiens to control play, and that is asking for trouble with just a one goal lead.  That, and their complete and total incompetence on the powerplay, were the primary reasons for the loss.

The Hurricanes will play Toronto at home on Thursday night for a rematch of the humiliating "Battle of the Basement" series, to see who is the worst team in the NHL.  They lost to the Leafs last time.

Game Notes

  • One can not say enough about Brandon Sutter who continues to shine all over the ice.  He finished with a goal, had three shots on goal, was a plus +1, and had over 20 minutes of ice time.
  • Rod Brind'Amour picked up another minus -1 and remains in last place in the league in that category. (-17). He had zero shots on goal for the game.
  • For the record, Brind'Amour is 4-10 in shootouts lifetime and went 1-2 last year, which is not bad.
  • The Hurricanes finished with 24 hits, led by Andrew Alberts with six.
  • Chad LaRose led the team with six shots on goal followed by Bryan Rodney with five.
  • Joe Corvo had five blocked shots, high for both teams. 
  • Paul Maurice sounded happy with the effort in the post-game interview.  "We played a very good road game, a very smart game", he said.  The coach also praised Price for his part.  "Give the goaltender credit, he made some fine saves".