The Carolina Hurricanes battled hard throughout the night as they saw a controversial "no goal" call reversed in the third period, fought back to tie the game with less than a minute left, then ended up losing a back and forth contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night in a shootout, 5-4.
The Hurricanes had come back twice already in this one and were playing through a 3-3 tie in the third period when at the 9:19 mark, Chris Kunitz fired a shot on Justin Peters. It appeared that the goalie had the puck stopped under him and the referee blew his whistle. Immediately afterward, Peters kicked the puck into the net, but the Hurricanes felt that the whistle had blown. The ref agreed as he initially did not count the goal, but the powers that be in the NHL War Room in Toronto overturned the ref's call on the ice and somehow called it a goal. Did they hear a whistle? Did they take it into account?
Paul Maurice was livid during the game when the call was reversed. After the game he said he did not get an explanation. "I think the ref still feels that way," said the coach when asked about the "no goal" call. But for whatever reason, the War Room disregarded the whistle. "I'm sure there will be an excellent explanation," quipped Maurice.
The Canes got off to a great start in the game as Brandon Sutter scored his fourth goal of the season just 42 seconds into it. Jussi Jokinen started the break and got the puck to Joni Pitkanen, who made a beautiful, no-look backhanded pass to an open Sutter and the new alternate captain made no mistake.
The lead would be short-lived though because the Penguins came roaring back. At the 8:55 mark, Kunitz scored his first of the night and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin got the assists.
Pittsburgh would score again just two minutes and change later on an unusual odd man rush. The Pens had a 3-on-1 situation and had more than enough time to set up camp in the Carolina zone. The Staal line had been on the ice too long and no one got back on defense as Crosby found a wide open Tyler Kennedy on Peters' doorstep.
The Canes battled back later in the period though as newcomer Ian White's shot from the point got through traffic. Jussi Jokinen created some space as he was fighting hard in front of the net and Patrick Dwyer knocked in the rebound.
the game's FSN's first star as he was credited with two goals and two assists for his night's hard work.
As the second period started and the score tied 2-2, the Pens started to flex their muscles. Crosby would score to give the home team the lead, but once again the Canes came back. Jamie McBain skated the puck along the left side of Fleury and rifled a cross-ice pass to Jokinen. The puck went in the net off his skate, but there was no kicking motion and the goal was good to tie it up.
The game went into the third period tied, 3-3.
The Pens were then handed the go ahead goal by the brain trust in Toronto and the Canes had their backs against the wall.
Paul Maurice pulled his goalie with a minute and change left, the Canes won a big faceoff in the Pittsburgh end, and after a few seconds, there was a loose puck in the slot area everyone was trying to get to. Bodies were flying as Tuomo Ruutu and Staal were knocking players to the ice as they fought through a bevy of humanity. Staal finally was able to control the puck and fed it to Jokinen who rifled in a clutch one-timer to tie the game. There were just 52 clicks left on the clock.
The Canes generated a couple of decent chances in the overtime period, but could not get the puck by Marc-Andre Fleury anymore for the night. After both teams failed to score, the game went to a shootout. Both Kris Letang and Crosby scored on their chances, while Jeff Skinner and Jokinen were stopped on their attempts.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- The "no goal" reversal in the third period is a real mystery. So many times we have seen goals not allowed because of a whistle, inadvertent whistle, or even an "intent" to blow the whistle, yet this obvious whistle was ignored. It is hard to believe that the league does not have some kind of agenda when you see the War Room overturn an on-ice call like that, with no explanation provided.
- Jussi Jokinen was a horse in this game. He looks to be over his early season "slump."
- This was a pretty even game except for parts of the second period. The Canes were out-shot in that period, 12-6.
- The Hurricanes had 34 shots on goal for the game and were led by Joni Pitkanen with six. The Finnish defenseman also turned in a very good game and looked to try to get involved in the offensive play much more often than usual. So far, he and Ian White make a good partnership. Pitkanen had an assist, four hits, and three blocked shots. He also had a game high 28:39 of time on the ice.
- Speaking of Ian White, he had a decent debut and skated over 27 minutes of ice time in the game, second highest on the team. He finished with an assist and a (+1) with two blocked shots.
- For the first time this season, the team won over 50% of their faceoffs! This is really a great sign because the Canes were able to control the puck at key times late in the game. Staal finished at 59%, Ruutu was 50%, Sutter was 55%, and the team finished at 53%.
- Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason each had four blocked shots.
- The team had 27 hits, led by Ruutu with five. The hard hitting forward had to be helped from the ice after a collision in overtime, but John Forslund said in a post game interview that he was walking around and looked good. More about him on Saturday.
- After a quiet couple of games, Jeff Skinner looked to be more involved in this one, especially in overtime. He had five shots on goal, but was a (-2).
This was a very entertaining game to watch and the team should be feeling good about their last minute rally to capture a point against a very good team in a hostile environment. This might be the type of game they can build on, but they'll have to find that energy again in less than 24 hours as they face a rested Nashville team at the RBC on Saturday night.