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Team Carolina Falls Again: Senators 4, Hurricanes 2

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The Ottawa Senators, (16-11-4) defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, (7-19-6) on Saturday night by a score of 4-2 as Alex Kovalev netted a hat trick for the home team.  Ray Whitney scored two goals for Carolina in a losing effort as his team fell deeper into last place with the loss.

The Senators doubled up Carolina's shots on goal in each of the first two periods, (10-5, 16-8) but the Canes held on, tied the score 2-2, and were in a good position to at least earn a point for the second night in a row before a key penalty was called with three minutes and change left in the game.

Ottawa took advantage of the penalty by scoring a goal off of a Carolina defenseman's skate, then put in an empty netter to seal the win.

The Hurricanes came very close once again, only to find a way to lose at the end of the game.

Kovalev started off the scoring in the first period as he beat defenseman Andrew Alberts to the net and tipped in a pass from Nick Foligno

Ray Whitney would tie the score early in the second on a powerplay blast from the point.  The Canes were on an extended, four minute man advantage which carried over from late in the first period when a Mike Fisher high stick to Tom Kostopoulos drew blood. 

Later in the second, Jason Spezza put the Sens back ahead with a powerplay goal of his own on a shot from the side, slightly behind the net.  That might have been one of the only questionable plays goalie Manny Legace made all night, but the bad angle cost him.

But with less than three minutes in the period, Ray Whitney would score again with a perfectly placed floater which somehow beat Sens' goalie Brian Elliott.

With the score tied 2-2 throughout the third period, the teams battled evenly before Joni Pitkanen was called for holding as he used his free hand on a Senator behind the Carolina net.  Kovalev scored his second goal during the ensuing powerplay when his shot bounced off Jay Harrison's skate, making the score 3-2.

Then Kovalev completed his hat trick with an empty netter with just 29 clicks left.

The loss gives the Canes just three points on this four game road trip, certainly a disappointment after starting off with a win in Pittsburgh.  They remain the last place team in the league and also happen to have the league's worst road record. 

Next up is a home game against Dallas on Wednesday night.

Game Notes:

  • It's easy to blame Joni Pitkanen for the penalty at the end of the game which ended up resulting in the go-ahead goal, but the defenseman had been on the ice for over thirty minutes at the time.  He finished the game with 31:11 of ice time.  When you compare those minutes with the league leader in that category, Dan Boyle at 27:06, those are quite frankly, too many minutes for anyone to be on the ice.  Couple that with the 29:52 he played the previous night in Washington, and him taking the penalty is more understandable.  When the body is fatigued, not only is there going to be a physical letdown, but a player will make mental mistakes as well.  Maurice has got to figure out how to keep the big defenseman's time under 30 minutes, especially in the last game of a back-to-back or you have to expect the mistakes.
  • After the game, Ray Whitney was quick to blame the refs.  He thought it was a marginal call at that point in the game and the refs should have let play go on.  The replay did show use of the free hand which is a penalty, but NHL referees certainly pick and choose what they want to call and when they call it.  It was a lightly called game as the Canes ended up with three penalties and the Sens had two.
  • The Hurricanes need to generate more shots on goal or scoring chances.  This is the second game in a row where their opponent has dominated in the Carolina zone for much of the game.  You usually can not win if you are getting doubled up on shots and scoring chances most of the game.
  • The team finished with 25 shots on goal as Ray Whitney led the way with five.  Ottawa finished with 39.
  • The Canes were credited with 35 hits compared to 25 for the Sens.  Rod Brind`Amour might have played his most physical game of the year and led the team with six hits.
  • Carolina had 10 blocked shots led by Joni Pitkanen with three.
  • Manny Legace played another solid game and had 36 saves on 39 shots which will help his save percentage.

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In other notes, the Hurricanes sent Michael Leighton to Albany before the Ottawa game so that they can eventually put him on re-entry waivers.  Teams can now claim him at half price, with the Canes picking up the rest of the tab.

The Albany Times Union has the latest with quotes from Leighton at this link.

"The plan was I was going to go on re-entry waiver. That’s what went on today, but the league refused it, so tomorrow I’m going to be on re-entry. It’s kind of wait and see. If I don’t get picked up, I go back up to Carolina, and they’ve got to figure something out from there. If I don’t clear, then I’m going somewhere else."

"I know Carolina’s got their thing sorted out. I’m not going to get many games there. I’m a free agent after this year, and I just want to find somewhere where I can play some hockey. Whether it’s in the NHL or the AHL, I’ve got to find the right fit for me. Whether I get picked up by another team or get loaned to another AHL team, it just comes down to playing hockey, and that’s all I want to do right now."