The Carolina Hurricanes are now all alone in the NHL basement with the worst record, (5-14-5), and fewest points, (15), in the league, as they dropped yet another road game on Wednesday night, this time to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-2.
The Canes are doing a great job of tying franchise records this season, but unfortunately, they are records of the wrong type. After previously tying a franchise worst 14 consecutive games without a win, they now have started the season with 12 consecutive road games without a win, (0-9-3), tying a franchise record dating back to the 1981-82 season.
To the team's credit, they jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, but then watched the Ducks control the puck most of the rest of the game, as Anaheim cycled, cycled, and cycled some more, and put on a clinic in front of their home crowd.
Tom Kostopoulos got Carolina off to a good start as he put a Matt Cullen pass in at just 1:23 into the game. This was TK's 400th career NHL game and second goal of the season.
The Hurricanes had some jump in the first period and continued to control play for a bit after the goal. They drew an interference penalty about five minutes in, but the ensuing powerplay failed to generate anything worthwhile and the momentum shifted Anaheim's way.
Even though Anaheim controlled the puck for long periods of time in the Carolina zone, Manny Legace was once again excellent in goal. For the most part, the Canes were able to keep the Ducks to the outside during their relentless cycling, but when they did get shots, Legace was like a man possessed in net. He made diving saves, post-to-post saves, and glove saves galore.
But late in the second period, Eric Staal was called for high-sticking right off of a faceoff, and the Ducks would take advantage of their powerplay with the help of a nice pass by Teemu Selanne and shot by Scott Niedermayer. The shot by Niedermayer looked like a mis-hit, but he got under the puck just enough to send a floater over Legace's head to tie the score.
The Hurricanes had two more powerplay chances in the second period, but failed to capitalize. As a matter of fact, the second one looked horribly out of sync as they could barely gain possession of the puck in the Ducks' zone and were called for offsides on three occasions while trying to enter the zone. It was not a pretty sight.
The Ducks were out-shooting and controlling play again in the Hurricanes zone when the team finally broke down in the third. Sergei Samsonov was pushed off the puck by Todd Marchant, who flipped a backhanded pass to Kyle Calder, who flipped another backhanded pass to Petteri Nokelainen. The Finn out-hustled Andrew Alberts and chipped the puck over a surprised Legace to make the score 2-1.
That was another fluky goal, but one well deserved because of the hustle involved.
Later in third, both Carolina defensemen pinched, the puck got behind them and Saku Koivu fed a wide open Teemu Selanne who easily made the score 3-1 and put the game out of reach.
The Canes tried to make a game of it though as they finally got some possession time in their own zone. Brandon Sutter would score with less than a minute left as Eric Staal got the puck through the crease to him, but it was too little too late and the Canes would face another long flight home as losers.
Their next game is at the RBC Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers.
- The lines were like a "Land of Confusion" as Maurice mixed and matched them all night long. The defensemen were not left out of the quagmire either as different pairings were tried throughout the game as well. The good news is that there were not any "too many men on the ice" calls this game.
- Brandon Sutter, who is tied for most goals scored on the team, (6), had just 12:46 of playing time. He was moved off the first line after the opening period or so and did not get as much powerplay time (52 seconds) as he was getting previously. Usually very good on the penalty kill, he got zero shorthanded time. Maurice complimented him after the game, but apparently forgot about him earlier.
- Eric Staal led the team with six shots on goal but looked rusty and was undisciplined at times. In the third period, he was frustrated as a Duck was hooking him and he grabbed the stick and tossed it, which could have easily resulted in another penalty against him. Somehow, he needs to control that frustration and not lose his temper when things are not going his way.
- Legace was diving and sprawling all night long to make his saves, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere barely broke a sweat. Was that evidence of a difference in goaltending style, or the quality of shots each goalie faced? Giguere hardly moved, blocking shots easily with his chest or blocker most of the night. Great positioning on his part and poor shot selection by the Canes.
- The team had 25 hits led by Tim Gleason's six.
- Staal and Cullen took the majority of faceoffs with 17 each, while Sutter took nine, Yelle took eight, and Brind'Amour took four. None of them won over 50%.