The Carolina Hurricanes fell behind early again, but they didn't wait until the third period in this game to make their comeback as they defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2 in front of 16,603 at the RBC on Saturday night. Eric Staal scored a natural hat trick as he knocked in two powerplay goals in the first period and lit the lamp for an even strength goal in the second.
It was Staal's 12th career hat trick.
Cam Ward had another outstanding night and made 43 saves on 45 shots, some of them under extreme duress late in the game as the Ducks turned a 5-on-3 advantage to a 6-on-3 when they pulled Jonas Hiller in the final minute or so.
The Ducks opened the scoring just 2:39 into the game on a shot by Ryan Getzlaf when the Canes had a breakdown in their own zone. But Staal would answer less than four minutes later when he took a Jussi Jokinen pass into the offensive zone in full stride during the game's first powerplay.
With just 27 seconds left in the period, the Canes were once again on the powerplay and Jamie McBain made an excellent play as he fired a one-timer at the net. The puck bounced off the end boards perfectly and Staal had the quick reflexes to knock the rebound past Hiller.
The Hurricanes opened the second period on a mission and held the puck in the Ducks' zone from the opening faceoff, until they scored again. Jeff Skinner passed to Erik Cole from behind the net, and Cole tipped it to an open Staal, who made no mistake with his attempt.
With the score 3-1, the Canes came off their discipline a bit and took some penalties as the Ducks tried to create some chances. Ward stood tall in net though and Carolina played some good defense and helped out their goalie when they needed to.
In the third period, things got chippy as Joe Corvo knocked Corey Perry around hard and drew a roughing penalty with about three minutes left in the game. Perry and Corvo had been battling hard all game and Corvo was called for hooking down Perry earlier in the period, a call which upset the defenseman as he let his feelings be known to the ref when he skated to the box.
During the ensuing second penalty kill, Brandon Sutter was called for closing his hand on the puck, giving the Ducks a prolonged 5-on-3 advantage. Paul Maurice disagreed with the penalty, but admitted it was a judgement call and left it at that. But just 16 seconds later, Staal was called for cross-checking and both the player and the coach were upset about that one.
"I've seen some viscous crosschecks near the end of a game that don't get called. You hate to see that one called at that stage in the game," said Maurice.
Ryan Getzlaf scored during the two man advantage at the 18:12 mark, but Ward and his defenders would not allow anything else. The Ducks even pulled Hiller during the sequence to give them an unusual 6-on-3, but when Corvo joined his mates during the kill, he was able to get to the puck and rifled it down into the empty net to close out the scoring.
The goal triggered a melee in front of the Canes bench as Perry went after Corvo and Sutter and Bobby Ryan got involved. Ryan tackled Corvo and Sutter then went after Perry.
Everyone received roughing penalties except for Perry who got a 10 minute misconduct along with a slashing call. Technically, he started a fight near the end of the game which falls under the instigating rule and he could be suspended.
After everyone was untangled, cooler heads prevailed and the final seconds clicked off the clock. The victory gave the Canes four wins in a row and they are now 5-1-1 in their last seven.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- The Canes had 32 shots on goal led by Staal with 10. And his coach said he was trying to pass too much after the hat trick.
- Brad Watson was the ref making the calls near the end of the game, (and he heard it from the fans). Yes, that's the same Brad Watson who made two bogus diving calls against Carolina after the Florida Panthers complained to league about too many penalties going against them back in 2006-07. Up until the final seconds of the game, the Canes were called for seven minors while the Ducks were called for three. Things evened up a bit after the Perry slashing and misconduct at the very end.
- The team started out with 18 hits in the first period alone. They ended up with 37 compared to 23 for Anaheim. Chad LaRose, Tuomo Ruutu, and Patrick Dwyer had 5 hits each. Tim Gleason was next in line with four.
Zach Boychuk opened up his first shift of the game with a great move to get open along the boards, then took the puck right to the net. He didn't have very many opportunities after that and he finished with 5:51 of playing time. Troy Bodie had even less time, 5:23. Sergei Samsonov was next lowest at 7:13. But of course if you were not a penalty killer in this game, you were at a disadvantage of getting much ice time.
- Jamie McBain continues to look strong and did a nice job moving the puck around on the powerplay. Not sure if being paired up with Pitkanen is helping him, but it sure doesn't seem to be hurting him.
- The club won 58% of faceoffs for the game and at one time were much higher than that. Staal finished at 54%, Sutter won 56%, and Ryan Carter chipped in with 53%. The rest of the team took fewer than 10 each.
- Carolina blocked a total of 18 shots led by Gleason with five and McBain with three.
- The Hurricanes looked very strong at parts of this game and did not allow a single shot on goal in the second period until almost 8 minutes into it. Then the penalties started and the Ducks got their chances.
- The powerplay looked good and went 2 for 3 (until the last five seconds). After failing to score with the man advantage for six straight games, the Hurricanes now have powerplay goals in three straight.
- The penalty kill is even better. The Canes have now killed off 37 of their last 42 penalties, (88%). It's no coincidence that the team has a winning streak going at the same time that special team production has picked up.
Interviews by the media follow: