The Carolina Hurricanes got off to a slow start, picked up steam and made a good game of it, but ended up succumbing to a surging Philadelphia team as the Flyers beat the Canes on Saturday afternoon, 4-2 at the Wachovia Center. Ray Emery had a fine game and shut the door on more then a few good chances the visitors created in the third period of the game.
The Canes were being out-shot by a 10-1 margin early on and were down 1-0 by time they got their legs going. But to their credit, they made an exciting game out of it for the rest of the way.
The Flyers dented the scoreboard first at the three minute mark when Ray Whitney attempted a break out pass to Joni Pitkanen which was stolen. The television broadcast crew blamed Pitkanen for the play, but Dan Carcillo took the puck from the defenseman before he even had a chance to turn to see him.
Regardless of the blame, Carcillo skated in alone on Manny Legace and deked out the backup goalie for the easy score. Legace ended up leaving the game later in the first period claiming vision problems because of "pink eye". A close up showed that his eye was nearly swollen shut, which leads to the question, why did he start the game if he was being bothered with an eye problem? Cam Ward came in to relieve him and played well.
(Paul Maurice said after the game that Legace got salt in the eye, (from sweat) and that aggravated it).
With one minute left in the opening period, the Canes were attacking while on a powerplay and Jussi Jokinen made a perfect pass to Eric Staal who batted the puck into the net past Emery. The period ended 1-1 as the captain scored his fourth goal in the last two games.
Philadelphia would score twice in the second period, even though the Canes were playing better than they did in the first. Jeff Carter won a faceoff, got the puck back to Chris Pronger, and the defenseman wristed a shot past a heavily screened Cam Ward.
Less then two minutes later, Arron Asham found Carter alone in the slot area and the center made no mistake as he picked up his 20th of the season.
Down by a 3-1 score in the third, the Canes did not give up and continued to make a game of it. Just a minute or so into the period, Ray Emery fumbled a puck behind the net and Sergei Samsonov jumped all over it. Samsonov flicked the puck blindly to the front of the net and Rod Brind`Amour was the beneficiary. The former captain buried the open net shot, making the score 3-2.
The teams would battle back and forth the rest of the game but Emery would stymie point blank chances by Brandon Sutter, Matt Cullen, and finally Brind'Amour. With just a few seconds left and the net empty at the other end, Eric Staal back-handed a pass to the front of the Philly net. Brind'Amour had an open shot for a second, but Emery scrambled over to make the save, and that was the game.
Carter put in an empty net goal with less than a second left, and that was that for the Canes.
After the game, Brind'Amour was self critical about his last second shot attempt. "I've got to put that one away", said the ex-Flyer, who coincidentally, was traded by Philadelphia to Carolina exactly 10 years to the day. "I couldn't get the puck up", he lamented.
The Hurricanes can take heart in knowing they made a good game of it, but they did not play well enough to beat the streaking Flyers, who made this their sixth straight win at home. Next up for Carolina will be a match against the Boston Bruins tomorrow at the RBC, starting at 5.
- After being out-shot in the first period, (13-9) the Canes returned the favor in the second, (10-6) and third, (16-10). Brind'Amour led everyone on Carolina with seven shots on goal.
- Even though Brind'Amour played a good game, he still finished with a (-1) showing you the type of year he's having.
- Joni Pitkanen played 31:34, had four shots on goal, four shots blocked, and missed the net three times, leading the team in the latter two categories. He also had two blocked shots of his own, but was credited with two giveaways.
- The Canes had a tough night in the faceoff circle as only Brind'Amour, (62%) did better than 50%. Staal won 43% of his draws, Sutter won 46%, and Cullen won 17%.
- The Canes dropped the gloves twice in this game as both Tom Kostopoulos and Andrew Alberts lost fights to Ian Laperriere. Kostopoulos accepted his challenge right at the side of the Flyers' net when the Canes were attacking. Not the best of timing. You have to love Kostopoulos, but I'm not sure he's ever won a fight and he looked bad in this one.
- Cam Ward played well coming in cold off the bench. He stopped a couple of open chances for the Flyers and stood tall on a Mike Richards' penalty shot, as the Flyers captain shot high.