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Hurricanes Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple
RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 15, 2006) - The NHL All-Star ballots came out this week and if there's any justice in this world, Rod Brind'Amour will be headed to Dallas in late January.
The 36-year-old Hurricanes captain continued one of the best starts of his illustrious career, scoring the game-winning goal with 6:05 left as the Canes edged the New York Rangers 2-1 to win three of four games on this the homestand.
The goal gave Brind'Amour 26 points in 20 games and a team-leading three game-winners as the defending Stanley Cup champs improved to 10-7-3. Once again, he was all over the ice against the Rangers, playing more than 24 minutes and winning 20 of 31 faceoffs.
"He's playing great," coach Peter Laviolette said of Brind'Amour, who is in his 18th NHL season. "He's on top of his game offensively and he's in great shape for having to go through as long a year as we did. He came back in better shape than he was last year - if that's even possible.
"He's outstanding night in and night out, considering all the minutes we ask of him."
Brind'Amour notched his 1,000th point Nov. 4 against Ottawa, but he's made just one All-Star Game in his career, that coming 14 years ago in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers. Brind'Amour shrugged off his fast start.
"I'm playing with good players and I said that last year," he said. "It's the first time in my career that I'm getting out there with wingers who are awesome players and playing some on the power play. Most of my career, I've been a second-unit guy on the power play, and now I'm getting that first look."
Brind'Amour has been on a line most of the season with Erik Cole and Ray Whitney. When asked about the possibility of making the All-Star Game for the first time in 14 seasons, Brind'Amour joked that he may not go.
"Don't even start talking about that," he said. "I'm taking the time off. I've got it penciled in. I'm too old for this stuff. I need to spend time with my kids."
Brind'Amour's teammates continue to shake their heads at a player who doesn't seem to age.
"He should be there at the All-Star Game. At his age, he just keeps going and keeps working hard," said Bret Hedican. "When I signed here again in 2002, the biggest reason I came back was because of him.
"Roddy is just the pinnacle," Hedican said. "He's the guy at the top of the mountain, the guy who sets the tone for us."
It appeared this one was headed to overtime as Carolina hit three posts before Justin Williams intercepted a pass behind the goal by former Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward and centered it to the slot for Brind'Amour, whose quick wrist shot also hit the post before bouncing in behind Kevin Weekes.
"Willy made a good read behind the net on the D-to-D pass, and I just kind of hung out in the slot and he hit me right on the tape," said Brind'Amour. "It was a good shot. I'll take it."
The Kevyn Adams line was rewarded at the end of a long, hard-working shift less than three minutes into Wednesday's game when Craig Adams poked in a rebound off an Anton Babchuk tip on Weekes for a 1-0 lead.
Carolina was poised to go up by two goals late in the first on an Eric Belanger breakaway, but he hit the left post as he had Weekes leaning the other way. Andrew Ladd also hit the post on a Carolina power play midway through the second period before Jaromir Jagr tied the game late in the period with Glen Wesley in the box for hooking.
"Those were key saves, and for the Jagr shot to be the first shot I faced in the game and to be able to make that save against a caliber player like that was a huge confidence builder," Ward said of his breakaway stops.
The win gets Carolina in a good mood for a big weekend that will include a road game Friday at Washington and then a home date Saturday against Dallas.
"We had to pull this one out," said Brind'Amour. "We were at home and we lost our last game, so this makes everybody feel good about coming to practice tomorrow. We knew we had four games at home and we had played so much on the road we wanted to make a little run here. We wanted to have all four, but six points isn't too bad."
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.
|Craig Adams Tip-in - ASST: Anton Babchuk , Chad LaRose|
1 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Jaromir Jagr Snap shot - ASST: Brendan Shanahan , Martin Straka|
1 - 1 Tie
|Rod Brind'Amour Wrist shot - ASST: Justin Williams|
2 - 1 CAR
|Marek Malik Holding against Erik Cole|
|Anton Babchuk Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Fedor Tyutin Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|Glen Wesley Hooking against Brendan Shanahan|
|Marek Malik Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Eric Staal Hi-sticking against Matt Cullen|
|Eric Staal Hi-sticking against Matt Cullen|
|Jaromir Jagr Tripping against Rod Brind'Amour|