The Carolina Hurricanes dominated the first two periods, jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and were cruising heading into the third period before they totally collapsed, allowed five consecutive goals, and lost to the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night by a score of 6-4.
The Canes looked about as good as they can look in the first 40 minutes. They generated scoring chance after scoring chance. They peppered Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec with a variety of shots. They played solid in their own end. But that effort was all wasted.
Instead of remembering the great play of Erik Cole, the perfect pass by Tom Kostopoulos to Matt Cullen for a shorthanded goal, and the hustle play by Stephane Yelle, fans will probably only remember how the team folded like a mighty mite team in the third.
Is it even worthwhile to talk about the first two meaningless periods?
The breakdown in the third period was about as bad as one could be. Most of the players after the game were speechless. Paul Maurice blamed it on turnovers in their own end, lack of skating, and a feeling like they had already earned the two points after the second period.
When asked about the turnovers the coach said that maybe it was "arrogance". But this is not the first time it's happened and seemingly absolutely nothing has been done about it.
While the coaching staff and players won't call anyone specific out by name, there does seem to be one common theme to most of the goals that were scored tonight. Number 4.
Here are the players who were on the ice for each of Atlanta's even strength goals:
- 4, 13, 16, 34, 41, 59
- 4, 13, 16, 34, 41, 59
- 7, 8, 15, 34, 36, 77
- 4, 7, 12, 14, 26, 34
- 4, 6, 12, 14, 26, 34
What number do you see most often? Aaron Ward.
Most were pleased when Jim Rutherford was able to "steal" Ward from the Boston Bruins for Patrick Eaves. Most of us wondered why Peter Chiarelli put Eaves on waivers afterward, making it look like they got rid Ward on purpose, just for a salary dump. And many of us wondered if their acquisition of Derek Morris in his place was really an upgrade.
The early return is that the Boston GM knew exactly what he was doing when he dumped Ward for nothing. And Jim Rutherford did him a huge favor by picking up Ward's 2.5 million in salary cap. But that's all water under the bridge now. The only remedy is to wait things out and hope he improves, or put him on waivers.
In his defense, Ward has been injured and it's hard to blame any loss completely on just one player. But there are some defensemen in Albany who would have had a much better game. Ward's -13 so far this year is the worst on the blueline, and that is probably no surprise to anyone.
For a complete rundown of the game, check this link.
- Erik Cole had his best game of the year and looked like the Erik Cole of old. He had new found "jump" and created several opportunities.
- Tom Kostopoulos also played well, as did Matt Cullen. They teamed up for a perfect shorthanded goal, the team's second of the year. TK scored the first of the season.
- Joni Pitkanen was injured again and left the game after the second period. To say he was missed would be a gross understatement.
- The powerplay looked better and showed much more movement and purpose.
- The Canes allowed two goals in less than a minute again, the 12th time they did that this season. They also allowed three goals inside of three minutes.
- Rod Brind'Amour was called for hooking about midway through the second period and barely saw the ice after that. He finished with 6:06 of ice time, low on the team.
- Stephane Yelle scored a goal and continued to block shots on the PK.
- The team as a whole was not as physical as usual and only had 14 hits for the game compared to 30 for the Thrashers. Aaron Ward led the team with four.
- Eric Staal led the way with six shots on goal. Erik Cole and Matt Cullen had five each.
There is no rest for the weary as the Canes travel to Buffalo for a match with the Sabres Saturday night.