Maurice & Co. Get Second Win at Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (JAN. 30, 2007) - This isn't exactly the time of the season you want to see your power play go into a slump.
With the Eastern Conference playoff race seemingly getting tighter with each passing day, the Carolina Hurricanes haven't been able to cash in on man advantages at key times over the last 12 days, resulting in four of five losses, including a 4-1 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, dropping their home record to 14-9-3.
The Canes were 0-for-3 on the power play on this night, so they didn't get many chances. But trailing 2-1 with 12:25 left, Carolina wasted a chance to get back into the game, getting no shots on the man advantage, leaving the Hurricanes 2-for-24 over the last five games on the power play.
"We're not getting shots and goals and it seems like we're just chasing pucks," Cory Stillman said when asked about the power-play woes. "You have to make quick decisions and you have to work hard on the power play. Every time we dumped the puck in and we made one pass it came right back down the ice. We were taking 35 and 40 seconds shifts because we were just going up and down the ice."
"The power play wins games and right now it's not going our way," added Eric Belanger. "We have to get back to just dumping some pucks in and go get it, and get it back to the point and get some shots and drive the net."
Carolina gave up 38 shots, was outhit 51-35 and lost 33 of 57 faceoffs. But the worst part of the game for the Canes came just 37 seconds into the third period when Nik Antropov picked up a rebound and beat Cam Ward for a 2-1 lead. Then, with four minutes left, Antropov put the game away when Ward failed to glove a shot and then let Antropov put one in off his skate.
"The rule is never to get scored on in the last minute or the first minute of the period, but we had chances to come back, but you know what, our power play didn't get it done," said Stillman.
"After that goal we didn't seem to have any pop," added Peter Laviolette said. "We talked going into the third that we couldn't make mistakes, we couldn't overextend our shifts, we couldn't get caught in a bad line change and then we get caught in a defensive breakdown right off the bat."
In addition to the loss, Carolina got a major scare with 14:39 left when Rod Brind'Amour collided with Alexei Ponikarovsky and went down in a heap, holding his left leg. But after the captain left the ice limping, he didn't miss a shift and the injury didn't appear serious.
Both goalies were stunning in the second period as the Canes headed to the third tied 1-1. Ward did most of his best work during a Toronto power play in which he made a pair of great saves 16 seconds apart just a minute before stoning Alex Steen on an even-strength move down the left wing. Steen also hit the post with 1:09 left in the second.
Ray Whitney had his second breakaway for Carolina with 12:26 left in the second. However, with two Toronto defensemen closing fast, he dropped off a perfect pass to a wide-open Justin Williams, whose shot went right into the belly of Andrew Raycroft. If Whitney had to do it all over again he may have shot it himself.
Carolina was being outshot badly early on, but had a chance to take the lead midway through the first when Belanger was awarded a penalty shot while the Hurricanes were shorthanded. However, Belanger's first career penalty shot sailed wide. The Canes are now 0-for-3 on penalty shots this season with Eric Staal and Erik Cole also missing.
"I was thinking shot and he came pretty far out of his net and I faked it and saw an opening and I just missed the shot," said Belanger. "Things aren't going my way anyway right now, so I just have to keep working."
Former Carolina winger Bates Battaglia gave the Maple Leafs a short-lived 1-0 lead with six minutes left in the period on what was a bad break for the Canes. Mike Commodore blocked a shot, but the puck bounced right to Battaglia, who was parked to the right of Ward and easily banged it into the open net.
Carolina tied it two minutes later when Dennis Seidenberg's nice pass up the center of the ice set Whitney in free on a breakaway and he beat Raycroft between the legs.
"They came out banging us in the first period and we were lucky it was just 1-1," said Belanger. "We played a good second, and in the third they got a quick goal to start the period and we were on our heels from that point on, but we have to keep playing."
Cole missed his first game of the season with a lower body injury. That leaves Williams, Staal, Whitney, Commodore, Scott Walker, Belanger and Craig Adams who have played in all 53 games.
David Droschak is the former sports editor for the North Carolina bureaus of the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world. In 2003, Droschak was named the North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year. The only writer in the Triangle to have covered the Carolina Hurricanes every season since the organization moved to North Carolina, he currently is a principal in the Raleigh-based public relations firm Hughes-Droschak Communications.