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Ray Whitney Says Goodbye? Hurricanes 5, Devils 2

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The Carolina Hurricanes continued playing top notch hockey as they won their fifth game in a row with a dominating, 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.  The Canes scored early and often and ended up chasing Martin Brodeur, who left the game with the score 4-0 early in the third period.

Ray Whitney had an exceptional game, almost scored a natural hat trick in the second period, and was named the game's first star.  Whitney is the top player available this trade deadline and most likely played his last game on home ice as a Hurricane, (at least this year).  More about that later.

Justin Peters picked up his second career win in as many starts and looked very solid in goal while making 23 saves on 25 shots.

Another River Rat, Zach Boychuk opened up the scoring late in the first period on a nice hustle play.  The rookie dove on the ice and knocked the puck past Brodeur as he scored his first career NHL goal.  "It wasn't the prettiest goal in the world, but I'll take it," the youngster said.

Whitney took over the game in the second.  The Canes earned a 5-on-3 opportunity but the puck squirted out over the blueline.  Eric Staal skated full speed, out-raced the Devils to the puck, then skated it in the zone by himself.  He spotted Whitney on the other side of the ice, fed him a perfect pass, and the veteran winger made no mistake. 

Just a minute later, Whitney made the score 3-0 when he tucked a loose puck near the goal line in the net for another goal.  Tim Gleason put the shot on net and got the primary assist.

Whitney would almost score again a bit later when he got another cross-ice pass, but the puck took a bad bounce and he could not get a shot off. 

About three minutes into the third period, Whitney found an open Jussi Jokinen and the Finn chased Brodeur with a bomb of a one-timer.   Yann Danis skated in and closed out the game for the Devils.

New Jersey scored a couple of goals later in third to ruin Peters' shutout bid, but Jokinen would hit an empty-netter with a minute and a half left to close out the scoring and the game.  

The team will take a two week break for the Olympic games although they will report back to practice on February 24th.

Game Notes:

  • Jokinen extended his scoring streak to nine games and has now scored 23 goals, a personal best.  It's still a mystery why he was not selected to compete with the Finnish Olympic hockey team, but at least he will have a chance to fly home and spend some quality time with his family.  He'll be watching his buddies vie for the gold medal from the comfort of his mom's place in Finland.
  • Peters looks more and more comfortable between the pipes.  He uses his size well and has decent quickness.  If Cam Ward is unable to return to action this season, it looks like the rookie will have an opportunity to make a good case for keeping him in Raleigh next season.
  • Boychuk was thrilled with scoring his first goal.  The forward was all over the ice in this game and was using his speed very well.  He certainly fits in with linemate Brandon Sutter.
  • Ray Whitney would not answer any questions related to a possible trade in his post game meeting with the press.  When asked if this might have been his last game at the RBC and about his future on the team, he mumbled, "you're asking the wrong guy," and that was that.  It obviously is a touchy subject although Whitney's actions seem to be contradictory in that he reportedly is using his no-trade clause to get a contract extension with a new team.  But why would he do that if he wants to re-sign with the Canes?  Jim Rutherford has said on more than one occasion that he wants to re-sign Whitney in the offseason.  It's an interesting situation but everyone will have to wait until it plays out to see what happens because Whitney won't be revealing any particulars.
  • The Hurricanes are now 20-3-1 when leading after two periods.
  • The penalty kill has been world class in February.  They killed 28 of 29 penalties for 97%.
  • The Canes had 31 shots on goal led by Staal, Whitney, and Boychuk who had six each.
  • Brandon Sutter led both teams with four takeaways.  Andrew Alberts had a team high three hits.
  • Peters, Boychuk, and Steven Goertzen were reassigned to Albany after the game.

Justin Peters was more composed with the press after his second career NHL win.  I took this video after the game.