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(RALEGH, N.C., Jan. 31, 2008) – Rod Brind’Amour, still bleeding from his stitched up left eye, felt good enough to crack a joke Thursday night in the locker room, and why not following his second game-winning goal in as many games.
“I’m not getting any prettier,” said Brind’Amour, who notched his 399th point as a Carolina Hurricane despite getting a nasty cut to his eye early in the second period that required numerous stitches.
Peter Laviolette said his club would have to win 20 of its final 30 games to secure the Southeast Division title. The Carolina Hurricanes are well on their way with a two-game winning streak following the All-Star break.
“It’s playoff type of hockey and we know we’ve got to start playing better,” said Bret Hedican. “Our defense, looking from up above when I was out for two-and-a-half weeks, we really weren’t moving the puck. If anything, that’s what I wanted to bring back when I got back in the lineup. I want to be reliable and move the puck up to our forwards. We’re doing a lot better job of that as a group.”
|Cam Ward watches the puck pass by as teammate Niclas Wallin, left, and the Maple Leafs Ben Ondrus slide by during the third period of Carolina's 3-2 overtime win on Thursday. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)|
Once again the Canes rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, outshooting the Maple Leafs 38-26 and outhitting them 26-14.
“If we keep getting two points nobody is going to catch us,” Brind’Amour said. “If we keep putting this effort forth we’ve going to get wins.”
The best third-period offense in the league wasted little time getting an early edge when Gleason’s blast from the blue line was tipped in by Scott Walker into the final period.
But the Maple Leafs were able to tie it and force OT in the waning seconds of regulation despite losing the draw in the Carolina end with goalie Vesa Toskala pulled for an extra attacker. What appeared to be a harmless shot from the half-wall deflected off the skate of
Sundin’s 22nd goal of the season was his 1,300th career point.
“We won the face-off, we did everything we wanted to, they just threw it in front and it went off a skate,” said Brind’Amour. “Those are just unlucky breaks right there.”
Once in overtime, Nikolai Antropov took a hooking penalty with left, creating a 4-on-3 advantage for the Canes and an avenue to victory. Ray Whitney was able to find Brind’Amour in the slot for his 19th of the season and fourth game-winner of the season.
“We’re having fun, we’re relaxed,’ said Tim Gleason.
“We did some soul searching when we got back from the All-Star break and had to decide what we wanted,” added
Gleason’s goal came about a minute after Chad LaRose broke in alone but was turned aside by Toskala in
The Canes fell behind for the second straight home game when Jiri Tlusty blasted a high shot over the glove of Cam Ward 3:20 in as the trailer on a 3-on-2 break. It was first goal by the rookie center since Nov. 17.
“There are a lot of positive things we can take from these last two games,” Laviolette said. “The way we competed against the Rangers, the way we fought back after giving up early goals. There are some things are can grab on to and try to harness and use that momentum to see if we can’t put some wins together.”