The Hurricanes are looking to build some momentum tonight. Brian, Cory, and I will be adding our 2 cents from the press box. Feel free to ask any questions or add comments yourself.
4:48 1st: Here's something that will go down in infamy: Jeff Skinner is in the penalty box...after a fight. Say what you want about the kid growing up, but the guy he fought wasn't exactly Georges Laraque. Instead, it was fellow lightweight Kris Russell dropping the gloves. Definitely a truth-stranger-than-fiction moment.
5:30 1st: The Canes hadn't had much pressure at even strength, but their passing on the night's first power play was quite good. Steve Mason was unable to cover a rebound and the Canes had two good cracks at the net from close range. Keep that up and you won't have much of anyone complaining about your power play.
14:23 1st: It's early and the game doesn't count, yes, but Cam Ward is giving up more than a few rebounds tonight. Fortunately for the Canes, the Jackets haven't been in position to clean up in front of the net, but the Canes' D needs to do a better job of giving Ward a chance to see the puck and, after he does, clearing it out from the crease.
17:50 1st: The Canes have done a good job tonight of crashing the net. Even the smaller guys have really made a point to crowd Mason and look for redirection chances in front. Hopefully that's a trend that continues; we know from experience that they don't exactly have a stellar track record in that department.
End 1st: Kind of a strange period. Both teams had good chances, neither one could convert yet it feels about right to be scoreless. It feels like one of those nights where the first goal could start a flurry of them. Shots in the period were 12-11 Canes.
5:11 2nd: Canes up 1-0; Jokinen (Pitkanen, Kaberle) (pp) The Jackets' 3-on-5 kill, needed thanks to interference penalties to Grant Clitsome and Derek Dorsett, focused almost exclusively on neutralizing Eric Staal in the high slot and forcing shots to come from outside. For most of the kill the strategy worked well, as the Canes couldn't connect on more than one pass in a row and there were a ton of passes in skates, but just as Clitsome left the box Joni Pitkanen threaded a pass through the slot to Jussi Jokinen, who fired top shelf and beat Mason to the glove side to give the Canes the lead.
10:25 2nd: There are times you remember that Justin Faulk has never played a (regular-season) NHL game. We just had one of those moments, a horrendous giveaway to 2010 4th-overall pick Ryan Johansen who was so surprised by the turnover that he double-clutched on an open net.
11:36 2nd: Jackets tie it up; Giroux (Clitsome, Kubalik) One of those rebounds we talked about before led to the tying goal. Bryan Allen took himself out of the play going for a hit along the boards, leading to a 2-on-1 down low. Clitsome's shot was kicked out to Cam Ward's right, but with Jay Harrison stuck in no-man's land Alexandre Giroux snuck behind Zac Dalpe and had a wide-open net to pot the rebound and knot the score at 1.
16:00 2nd: One interesting change the Canes have made is that they've mercifully ended the Staal-at-the-point experiment (can you call it that when they've done it for two years?) on the power play. For the first time in forever, or at least preceding the Matt Cullen era, the Canes are using defensemen on both points on both power-play units. It's a little strange to see, but long, long overdue.
End 2nd: The Canes are up in shots 24-22 after an identical 12-11 differential in the second period. A bit of a frustrating period in the defensive zone, but the Canes haven't broken yet. Without Ward and a few big defensive plays, the Jackets could easily have the lead.
2:28 3rd: Canes go up 2-1; Dwyer (Stewart, Harrison) The Canes' fourth line has been getting regular shifts all night, and they repaid their coach with the go-ahead goal. A neat behind-the-back pass from Anthony Stewart across the top of the crease made it through to Patrick Dwyer on the other side, and Dwyer out it over Mason's right pad after getting three cracks at it from four feet.
7:50 3rd: Jackets tie it up again at 2; Umberger (Atkinson, Carter) Unfortunately, Cam Ward gets an assist on that goal too. He got stuck in no-man's land to the right of the net, and was going to play the puck but it jumped over his stick and out of the trapezoid. Ward wasn't able to set himself properly before Cam Atkinson found R.J. Umberger for a one-timer at the bottom of the near circle, and Umberger's top-shelf shot tied the game. Ward was obviously miffed after the play, swatting the puck in disgust when it came back out of the net.
11:35 3rd: Jackets take a 3-2 lead; St. Pierre (Savard) Another rebound, another goal. Martin St. Pierre snuck behind the defense and redirected a shot by David Savard. Ward was able to stop the redirection, but the puck bounced right back to St. Pierre who backhanded it high over Ward's left pad.
14:20 3rd: The Canes have Staal and Dalpe taking shifts at 4-on-4. For all the talk about keeping Staal and Ponikarovsky together and finding a third wheel for that combination, it sure seems like the coaching staff has quickly warmed to the idea of having Staal and Dalpe paired up most, if not all, of the time.