|OTT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
Canes Drop First of Two Against Senators
Flavor of the Game 700K
RALEIGH, N.C. (FEB. 27, 2007) - The Carolina Hurricanes were nearly perfect with a lead heading into the third period for more than a season and a half. Now, they can’t seem to hang on as precious points are beginning to slip away.
The Canes surrendered a third-period lead for the third straight home game, this time unable to escape with two points like they did last week against Philadelphia, this time paying the ultimate price against one of the teams they’re chasing in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Leading 2-1 after 40 minutes, Carolina gave up three goals over the final 9:11 to fall to the Ottawa Senators 4-2 Tuesday night, failing to capitalize on another solid effort in net by John Grahame, who was gunning for his third straight victory.
“We were just flat. We were asleep, we got outskated, outbattled,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “You’re not going to win games like that.”
The Canes also squandered a 1-0 third-period lead against Atlanta on Feb. 20 and lost 3-1. The defending Stanley Cup champions have scored just 13 goals in their last eight games at the RBC Center.
But the lack of scoring isn’t as disturbing as the third-period collapses. Carolina was 31-0-2 last season when leading heading into the third and 21-0 this year before its recent troubles at home.
“We weren’t making plays coming out of our own end,” said defenseman Bret Hedican. “Our team has to be a little bit better with the game on the line. We just have to execute better and have a little more confidence that we can make plays out there.”
Martin Gerber beat his former team for the second time this season, pushing the Senators to 78 points while the Canes remained at 71 heading to Ottawa for Wednesday night’s rematch.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” Eric Staal said. “We’re playing not to lose, not to get scored on and not playing our game, which is attacking and going at people, continuing to jump into the rush, continuing to generate offense. When you don’t do that you leave yourself vulnerable.”
Things began to go south midway through the final period when Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov beat Grahame on a screen shot, scoring for the first time this season and the first time in 85 games.
Wade Redden, another Ottawa blue liner, then took the wind out of Carolina’s sails when he joined the rush with 4:48 left and was able to score on a virtual open net after the Senators crossed the puck at the last second to fool Grahame and Co.
“Their defense was in the rush all night and that makes a difference, makes it tough playing defense, you’re got to make sure you’re back-checking and it opens up the ice for their forwards,” Staal said.
The Hurricanes fell behind 1-0 early in the second after Grahame failed to control a rebound off a face-off and Dany Heatley tapped his 37th goal into an open net.
But five minutes later the Canes charged up the near sellout crowd with goals by Staal and Josef Vasicek 19 seconds apart to head into the third up 2-1.
Staal’s 26th of the season came midway through a power play and was set up by Cory Stillman, who was playing his second game following a two-week injury layoff.
The crowd didn’t even get a chance to sit down before Vasicek poked in a rebound off a shot from the blue line by Mike Commodore. Vasicek’s goal was his first in eight games since being re-acquired from Nashville and first since Jan. 5 – a span of 15 games.
Carolina managed just three shots on two first-period power plays, while the Senators had one shot on their lone man advantage in a scoreless opening 20 minutes. The best scoring chance for the Canes actually came on the Ottawa power play when Justin Williams took on three Senators with some nifty moves and managed to get a good shot off on Gerber.
“We’ve got to stick to the process,” Hedican said. “We’ve got to get the puck deep and get guys in front of the net. We got away from pressing a little bit in the third period tonight and we gave up the lead and gave up the game.”
“We’ve got to be ready to play hard tomorrow and get it done in their building,” said Staal, who watched Carolina fall to 16-13-4 at home.
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.
|Dany Heatley (37) ASST: Jason Spezza (36), Joe Corvo (19)|
1 - 0 OTT
|PPG - Eric Staal (26) ASST: Cory Stillman (14), Ray Whitney (46)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Josef Vasicek (5) ASST: Mike Commodore (18), Cory Stillman (15)|
2 - 1 CAR
|Anton Volchenkov (1) ASST: Chris Phillips (13)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Wade Redden (6) ASST: Jason Spezza (37), Daniel Alfredsson (42)|
3 - 2 OTT
|EN - Jason Spezza (26) ASST: Daniel Alfredsson (43), Dany Heatley (44)|
4 - 2 OTT
|Mike Comrie Hi-sticking against Tim Gleason|
|Andrej Meszaros Hi-sticking against Andrew Ladd|
|Ray Whitney Interference against Patrick Eaves|
|Andrej Meszaros Holding against Eric Staal|
|Frantisek Kaberle Hooking against Jason Spezza|
|Cory Stillman Unsportsmanlike conduct against Dean McAmmond|
|Dean McAmmond Unsportsmanlike conduct against Cory Stillman|