|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
Walker, Hurricanes Get Big Win Over Penguins
Flavor of the Game 700K
RALEIGH, N.C. (MARCH 2, 2007) - After a couple of tough weeks, the Carolina Hurricanes were due for a few breaks.
The Canes got three favorable bounces Friday night against Pittsburgh en route to a 3-2 victory to move the club back into an Eastern Conference playoff spot with 15 games left. Scott Walker, who had been slumping with one goal in his last 16 games, got two against Pittsburgh, including the winning goal with 8:27 remaining.
Walker notched his fifth game-winner when he picked up the puck along the end line after a Mike Commodore shot from the blue line hit off of Cory Stillman on the way to the net. Walker scored Carolina's first goal into another open net after a Niclas Wallin shot went wide and slammed off the back boards and right on his stick.
And Frank Kaberle's soft wrist shot from the point just 53 seconds after Walker's first goal bounced off a Pittsburgh defenseman and past Jocelyn Thibault.
Bounces, bounces, bounces.
"Sometimes when you're working hard and playing hard like we were tonight you just seemed to always be moving and going to the bounces," said Walker. "Sometimes you have to make your own luck and create your own chances."
Cam Ward won his 26th game of the season, in large part to Carolina penalty kill, which held the NHL's second-best power play unit on the road to no goals on seven chances. That included a key kill on a Justin Williams high sticking call with 4:28 left in which the Penguins didn't register a shot.
"Ultimately our penalty killing won us the game," said Ward. "They were the difference tonight, especially killing off a penalty that late and against the skill level that the Penguins have."
The Pens pulled their goalie with 1:11 left for an extra attacker, but didn't manage a shot on Ward either.
"Every win is huge at this stage of the season, and for us to be successful we've got to treat every game like it's our Game 7," said Ward. "The guys played hard. Hopefully we can build on this."
"Sure we're relieved. Things haven't been going the way we had hoped, but that's all in the past now. We showed a lot of positives, we showed what we're capable of doing when we're on top of our game."
Carolina came into the game 1-for-22 on the power play over its last five games and couldn't convert on its first five man-advantage opportunities in this one to head into the third period tied 2-2.
After falling behind 1-0, Walker and Kaberle scored less than a minute apart in the second period to give the Canes a 2-1 lead. But the advantage didn't last long as Ryan Malone tied it up two minutes later when the Hurricanes failed to clear the puck out of their zone and got caught chasing the Penguins around.
Walker scored for the first time since his Feb. 13 game-winner against Los Angeles, while Kaberle registered his third point in 12 games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Andrew Ladd got an assist on the Kaberle goal, and he also screened Thibault on the wrist shot from the point.
Walker said he wasn't worried about his scoring drought.
"You've just got to go out and play hard and things are going to happen," he said. "You can't worry about personal stuff. I've had lots of open nets and lots of chances. It just hasn't been going in. You don't worry when you're not scoring, you worry when you're not getting chances."
Carolina got the game's first two power plays in the opening 4:22, but couldn't score and had its second man advantage cut short by a David Tanabe holding call. Another Carolina power play late in the second lasted just 15 seconds as Ladd took a tripping penalty.
Ward kept the Penguins off the board with a great kick save on Mark Recchi six minutes in, and two in close stops against Evgeni Malkin four minutes later.
But Josef Vasicek lost Sidney Crosby behind the Carolina net with 5:37 left in the first, freeing up the likely league MVP to march in front of the net to beat Ward from a tough angle for his 98th point.
"I do think we worked hard tonight. There was more skating to our game, more energy," said coach Peter Laviolette. "That had been missing for a couple of games, or had been inconsistent, to say the least. The guys were into the game tonight. It was one of our best efforts in the form of effort and intensity. Now we've got to get back to work."
Bret Hedican missed his 17th game of the season, this time with a lower body injury. Laviolette said Hedican would likely miss this weekend's game at Atlanta and could be lost for about a week.
"We've had so many injuries it doesn't even faze me any more," the coach said.
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.
|Sidney Crosby (27) ASST: Jordan Staal (8), Rob Scuderi (9)|
1 - 0 PIT
|Scott Walker (18) ASST: Niclas Wallin (6), Josef Vasicek (11)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Frantisek Kaberle (2) ASST: Justin Williams (28), Andrew Ladd (5)|
2 - 1 CAR
|Ryan Malone (13) ASST: Colby Armstrong (18), Max Talbot (9)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Scott Walker (19) ASST: Cory Stillman (16), Mike Commodore (19)|
3 - 2 CAR
|Evgeni Malkin Delay of game|
|Colby Armstrong Hooking against David Tanabe|
|David Tanabe Holding against Ryan Malone|
|David Tanabe Hi-sticking against Georges Laraque|
|Alain Nasreddine Holding against Eric Staal|
|Tim Gleason Roughing against Gary Roberts|
|Tim Gleason Fighting (maj) against Gary Roberts|
|Gary Roberts Hi-sticking against Tim Gleason|
|Gary Roberts Fighting (maj) against Tim Gleason|
|Brooks Orpik Tripping against Chad LaRose|
|Craig Adams Roughing against Alain Nasreddine|
|Alain Nasreddine Roughing against Craig Adams|
|Niclas Wallin Slashing against Evgeni Malkin|
|Justin Williams Interference on goalkeeper against Jocelyn Thibault|
|Jordan Staal Tripping against Rod Brind'Amour|
|Andrew Ladd Tripping against Max Talbot|
|Brooks Orpik Slashing against Eric Staal|
|Cory Stillman Tripping against Josef Melichar|
|Justin Williams Hi-sticking against Colby Armstrong|
|SA: 26||TOI: 58:52|
|Saves: 23||EV: 15 - 18|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: .885||SH: 3 - 3|
|SA: 24||TOI: 59:53|
|Saves: 22||EV: 18 - 20|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .917||SH: 0 - 0|