Tracking the Storm: Analysis from Philadelphia
-- The Carolina Hurricanes posted their fourth straight victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center in a 3-1 victory. Brett Bellemore, Ryan Murphy and Jordan Staal scored for the Canes, while Cam Ward made 27 saves.
"It was a bit of a gritty game. That kind of got everyone into the game," Bellemore said. "Especially Keegan, he stepped up with a couple big fights and got us going."
-- Cam Ward has been the Flyers’ worst nightmare in the five-game season series between these two Metropolitan Division opponents. He didn’t start in the first meeting, a 5-1 loss, but he’s backstopped the Canes to victory in four straight games now against Philadelphia.
Tonight, he made 27 saves en route to his 22nd victory of the season, his only blemish being a goal late in the third period via a redirect by Sean Couturier. He was especially impressive late, as the Flyers desperately attempted to even the score.
"Wardo has been good all year," head coach Bill Peters said. "He's had a good year."
-- Keegan Lowe made quite the impression in his NHL debut. He fought Vincent Lecavalier twice in the first two periods and played with an edge to his defensive game.
"My thoughts were just to go out there, play hard and play simple," said Lowe, who wore the fireman's helmet after the game. "I was by no means out there looking for that (fights), but it is what it is, and it leads to good memories, I guess."
"He did a good job. He competes. We knew he was a competitive player, and he was competitive here tonight," Peters said. "I thought he managed the puck well. I thought he was good defensively and solid."
Nerves? Not too noticeable.
"Warm-ups, a little bit, but once I got out there in my first shift, I actually had a chance up in the play. That got the legs moving and helped a lot," Lowe said. "After that it was all pretty good. There were a few shifts, obviously, with little mistakes that I’d like back. I could attribute that to nerves, but I’m not going to do that. Other than that, it was a happy experience."
Lowe’s first bout with Lecavalier, which arose after the two exchanged cross-checks in the slot, was a rousing success for the rookie. He connected with a handful of shots in a rather prolonged tussle before the officials stepped in.
"The first time it was just a battle and it ended up – by no means was I like, ‘Oh, this is Lecavalier,'" Lowe said. "It ended up happening."
The second fight was quicker and its origins more suspect. Lecavalier bear hugged Lowe and began punching him before he had a chance to respond properly, a questionable tactic from the veteran forward, who was penalized with the extra instigator.
"Well obviously I was surprised, but there’s no love lost there," Lowe said. "It’s hockey, right? No love lost for him. He’s a great player and always has been. He wanted his lick, and he got it. Game’s over and we got the win, so I’m happy."
Per HockeyFights.com, Keegan’s father, Kevin, also fought in his NHL debut on Oct. 10, 1979 against Grant Mulvey of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Like father, like son.
"Pretty good, impressive debut," Peters said of Keegan. "And to get a win in your debut, he did a good job and should be proud."
"There’s a ton of good leaders on this team, and they were all helping me out. Playing with Murph helped me out," Lowe said. "It was a learning experience, and that’s what hockey is: you’re learning every day."
"Any time you can get two goals from D-men, you’re doing well," Peters said. "We’ve wanted our D to be active, and it’s nice to get offensive contributions from them tonight."
Of all situations, it was Bellemore crashing the net that opened the scoring at 12:48 of the first period. Jordan Staal laid the puck off to Eric at the point. Eric then tossed the puck in front, as Bellemore was barreling to the crease with speed. Bellemore flattened his blade and redirected the slap pass into past Ray Emery for his second-goal of the season.
"Long way from home, wasn’t he?" Peters quipped. "Green light for all of them. Belly is going to be smart enough to pick his spots. He knows his bread and butter is probably not jumping all the time, but it was a good read. We want to play quick."
"I thought the goal helped us get going," Bellemore said of his tally. "The coach has been harping all year for the D to join the rush and be proactive back there. Honestly, it was just a great play by Eric to put it in a good area, and I was able to get a stick on it."
Murphy netted what proved to be the game-winning goal on the front half of a four-minute power play, rifling a one-timer past Emery for his fourth goal of the season.
Jordan Staal added an empty-net tally late in the game to seal the victory.
-- Just one game remains for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2014-15 season, and it’s a rematch against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.