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Pothier Pots Game Winner: Hurricanes 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

Brian Pothier scored the game winning goal just 23 seconds into overtime and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 Thursday night at the RBC. 

The Penguins out-shot a tired Carolina team by a 40-21 margin, but rookie goaltender Justin "Pete Dawg" Peters stopped 37 of those 40 shots and was named first star of the game.

Ray Whitney, Zach Boychuk, and Eric Staal scored the other goals for the Canes.

Brandon Sutter was injured in the first period and left the game with what was identified as a lower body injury, but Paul Maurice said after the game that the young center should be cleared to play on Friday.

The Canes got off to a slow start again and before they knew it, were losing 2-0.  Jordan Staal flicked in a short shot just one minute into the game, and Bill Guerin knocked in a powerplay goal near the five minute mark.  It looked like it might be a rough night for the home team.

But once again, the club battled back.  Ray Whitney dinged in a powerplay tally himself as he sent a puck in off the post.

Less than two minutes later, Zach Boychuk tied the score on a seeing eye backhander which beat goalie Brent Johnson high blocker side.  The sequence was a thing of beauty and was the second career NHL goal for the youngster.

With the score tied 2-2 early into the second, Eric Staal took a pass behind the net from Erik Cole and tried his patented wrap around shot.  Somehow the puck went in and the home team took the lead. 

But just four minutes later, Matt Cooke knocked in a rebound to tie things up.

Justin Peters was having a great night, but was probably allowing  more rebounds than he wanted.  That forced him to make second and third saves sometimes, but fortunately he was equal to the task.

The puck was in the Hurricanes zone most of the third period and the Pens out-shot the Canes 14-7 during that time frame, but Peters was like a wall.  He used full advantage of his size and rebounds were few and far between at this stage of the game.

As the contest went into overtime, the Pens took the puck to the net, but Peters kicked the rebound out.  Ray Whitney tried to set up Eric Staal in front of the Pittsburgh net, but Staal couldn't get off a shot.

"The puck was by my feet, so I thought that I better get rid of it", the center said.

He sent the puck back to Whitney, who found an open Brian Pothier.  The former Washington Capital buried the shot for the game winner.

The defenseman had another solid game as he chipped in with three hits, two blocked shots, and had over 24 minutes of ice time.  He also had an assist on the Whitney goal.  The veteran might be the surprising, premier piece of the Joe Corvo trade.  It will be interesting to see if he would re-sign in Carolina over the offseason.

The win gives the Canes three points out of a possible four against the two best teams in the NHL in a back-to-back scenario.  They have an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games and remain hot.

Game Notes:

  • After Sutter left the game with an injury, Erik Cole moved up to the top line with Staal and Whitney.  His skating seems to be coming around as he had a couple of nice breakaway chances, but he was not able to finish.
  • Jokinen moved to the center position and played between Tuomo Ruutu and Chad LaRose.  The part-time center went 6-9 in the faceoff circle for a 67% win percentage.
  • Cole and Whitney led the team with four shots on goal each. 
  • The Canes had a two man advantage for over a minute and change, but did not get a shot on goal.  They need to do better in that situation.
  • Brett Carson had another solid game and had a team high five hits.  The Canes were credited with 35 for the game. 
  • Before this game, the Penguins were 10-1-1 when tied after two periods.  The Hurricanes were 3-8-3.

The team is taking a day off Friday and will return to the RBC ice on Saturday night for a match against the Phoenix Coyotes.