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Carolina held the Flames to just 21 shots one night after they scored nine goals in a win at Tampa Bay, but Cam Ward allowed two marginal goals in the third period and the Canes couldn’t come up with a big power play score over the final 6 1/2 minutes to drop to 8-7-1 at the RBC Center this season.
“I thought we deserved a better fate and I hold myself accountable,” Ward said. “I’ve got to make some saves to keep this team in hockey games. I can’t be giving up that third goal – even the fourth one.”
The Southeast Division-leading Canes fell to 2-5 in December and are 5-10 over their last 15. The game also marked the first three-game skid of the season, a streak in which the Canes are just 2-for-17 on the power play.
“We’ve got to go back to work, that’s where we have to go,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’ve got to play a cleaner, better game (Saturday night) and dig ourselves out of it. It’s not going to be easy, nobody is going to give it to us, we’ve got to go fight and work for it.
“That’s a group in there that has a lot of character and a lot of determination and they battled tonight but we didn’t get what we were looking for. It’s disappointing.”
Matt Cullen was the offensive star on what was another frustrating game for the Canes, his power-play goal with 12:41 left tying the score at 3-3.
But Ward allowed a goal between his legs off a faceoff three minutes later and
Captain Rod Brind’Amour was almost speechless in the locker room after the game trying to explain the frustration level.
“At the end of the day it’s a loss,” Brind’Amour said. “I would rather win a game we play horrible than play good and lose. A lot of guys played well. We just didn’t get a lot of breaks around the net early on. And any time you fall behind it catches up with you.”
After heading to the locker room tied 2-2 after two,
But the Canes continued to battle, taking the body better than in any home game in a month, and it finally paid off on the power play midway through the third when Cullen split the defense and rifled a wrist shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.
A harmless looking shot from the right circle by Craig Adams handcuffed Kiprusoff as
“He’s a pretty good goalie. It was a lucky bounce,”
The Flames had taken a 2-1 lead about a minute before the Adams goal as Niclas Wallin failed to clear the puck out of the zone and Ward ended up one-on-one with Dustin Boyd, who scored just his second of the season.
The first two goals came off turnovers less than six minutes in – and both scores involved Trevor Letwoski. The
NOTES: Scott Walker sat out his one-game suspension, while Mike Commodore (finger) missed his 10th straight game. … Cullen’s 26th assist on the second goal exceeded his total of 25 all of last season with the Rangers. … Letowski scored his first point since Nov. 12 – a span of 13 games. … Cullen had his fifth three-point game of the season.