The Hurricanes celebrated the retirement of Glen Wesley's jersey, as well as a third straight RBC sell out, with their third straight loss at home last night. After playing a pretty tight game throughout most of the affair, they faltered and gave up three goals in the final four minutes en route to a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.
The night started out well as the tribute for Wesley was emotional. After "number 2" was lifted to the rafters and the defenseman skated one more time around the rink while waving goodbye to fans, his family closed out the affair as they sang the "National Anthem" together.
The hockey game also started out well. About half way through the first period, Ray Whitney made a nice move and fed the puck perfectly to Matt Cullen, who one-timed it past Tim Thomas. Unfortunately for Carolina, the lead was short-lived as Blake Wheeler stuffed in a powerplay goal just six minutes later to tie the contest up.
The second period was pretty even except for a goal by Shane Hnidy. The defenseman threw a weak knuckler at net which somehow evaded Cam Ward and the Bruins had the lead they wanted, and the only lead they needed.
Once again the third period was pretty even and the Hurricanes might have had the jump at times, but they could not find the back of the net. Finally with less than seven minutes left, the Canes had a powerplay opportunity when Mark Stuart was called for a crosscheck. The advantage was quickly negated though when Tuomo Ruutu earned a holding penalty right off of the ensuing faceoff.
But during the four-on-four sequence, Chuck Kobasew was called for hooking, and the Canes had a 44 second, 4-on-3 advantage. During the all important powerplay, Ray Whitney, Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Staal, and Dennis Seidenberg were on the ice, and try as they might, they could not get a single shot on goal. When Stuart and Ruutu returned to the ice, the Canes still could not get a shot through. But Boston did.
After a mishap handling the puck at the blueline, David Krejci stole the puck and cruised in for a shorthanded attempt. He faked out Ward and backhanded the puck past him, sealing the game for the visitors and putting a dagger into the hearts of the Hurricanes faithful.
Exactly a minute later, the Bruins scored yet again on another powerplay, making the score 4-1. Then for some unknown reason, Paul Maurice pulled his goalie and Patrice Bergeron skated the length of the rink untouched and flicked the puck into the empty net with less than a minute to go to complete the embarrassment. It was the third game in a row at home that the Hurricanes allowed five goals.
One might ask why Rod Brind'Amour was on the ice for the all important 4-on-3 advantage? Is he now one of the top three powerplay forwards on the team? The captain has not scored a goal in about two months and recently missed time due to some unknown ailment. In the meantime, red-hot Matt Cullen sat the bench for the entire sequence.
When your best players are not on the ice during crucial situations, it should be no surprise when you fail to succeed. Cullen had jump, he had already scored a nice goal, and he should have been on the ice with the game on the line.
It was a bad night to be a Carolina defensemen. Joe Corvo was crushed by a hard hit and needed help to get up. He returned to the ice after gathering his senses in the dressingroom. Joni Pitkanen was injured, but also attempted to return. Niclas Wallin was hit in the face, was bleeding profusely, and also had to leave.
After the game, Paul Maurice said that both Pitkanen and Corvo were all right, but Wallin's situation was unknown.
Tuomo Ruutu led the team with 5 blocked shots, which is a bit unusual for a forward. Pitkanen, Babchuk, and Seidenberg each had 3. Did the scorer make a mistake?
Eric Staal led the Canes with 5 shots on goal. Corvo and Seidenberg had 4 each.
The Hurricanes fialed to register a single shot on goal during 6 powerplay opportunities. They allowed two powerplay goals against them as well as a "shortie". Needless to say, special team play was not very special.
Ray Whitney mentioned after the game that it was "humiliating" losing like this on home ice. "It's not nice hearing the boos, but it is warranted". Hopefully, the Canes won't be hearing more boos come Friday night when they return to the RBC once again.