It was a bit unorthodox, but at this stage of things, in the midst of a three-game skid and a major scoring drought, the Carolina Hurricanes will gladly pocket a 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
Spotting their division rivals two goals, the Canes got a scoring spark from enforcer Wade Brookbank, some excellent play in net from Cam Ward, top-notch penalty killing in overtime and a curve ball from coach Peter Laviolette in the shootout to claim the much-needed two points.
Instead of Eric Staal or reliable Ray Whitney taking center stage in the shootout, Laviolette went with the hot Tuomo Ruutu and Rod Brind’Amour, who each scored. Meanwhile, Ward stopped Vincent Lecavalier and saw Jussi Jokinen’s attempt hit both posts before bouncing harmlessly into the corner as the
“Just to switch it up, just to change things in the shootout since we haven’t had much success,” Laviolette said of his choices of Ruutu and Brind’Amour.
Ward’s biggest save on the overtime 4-on-3 came against former
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Ward. “Look at all of our games, they’re one-goal games and it’s my job to come up with some big saves at key times in a game.
“I tip my hat to the guys, we played with a lot of emotion and that’s something that we desperately needed,” added Ward, who turned aside 26 shots. “To be able to come back, being in a hole 2-0, it’s huge for us and hopefully we can build off of this. We showed a lot of positives.”
Brookbank, of all players, got the Canes going when his sweeping shot off a rebound from a Brandon Sutter sharp-angle shot gave the
“They probably weren’t suspecting that,” Ray Whitney said tongue-in-cheek about the Brookbank goal. “Anytime you have other people who are struggling to score you are going to need something from some unlikely people. With some of our top players, myself included, not getting the goals that we’re used to right now you need some secondary scoring. To see his enthusiasm and see how much excitement that it brought to the building, maybe that’s the one guy we needed to score.”
A shift later, Brind’Amour’s shot from the left circle found its way to the back of the net with Whitney setting a perfect screen in front of a suddenly shaky Mike Smith. Brind’Amour’s team-leading seventh of the season moved him into sole possession of 50th-place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 1,128 points.
The Canes had every opportunity to come out of the first period with the lead, getting three quick power-plays. But Scott Walker hit a post, was robbed by Smith on another close in attempt while several others had nice scoring chances only to come up empty.
And when things are going badly, one mistake can end up in the back of your net, which is exactly what happened to the Canes at the tail end of their third man-advantage chance. A poor pass in the
But in the end, the Canes were able to overcome a missed call for too-many-men on the ice on
“It’s nice to see the smiles on everybody’s faces after a game,” Ward said.
“That’s the difference between winning and losing, one brings a smile and one brings a frown,” added Laviolette.
NOTES: Brind’Amour extended his season-best point streak to five games with his second-period goal. …