|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
Hurricanes Cool Off Panthers
RALEIGH, N.C. (MARCH 13, 2007) - With 18 NHL seasons and more than 1,250 games under his belt, Rod Brind'Amour has plenty of experience at reading a play. The Carolina captain came up with the perfect read late in Carolina's win over Florida on Tuesday night, pushing ahead despite being a man down to score short-handed with 5:18 left in a key 3-1 victory.
The win kept the Hurricanes ahead of the Eastern Conference playoff curve and stopped a red-hot Panthers team from advancing up the Southeast Division and into the postseason picture with regular-season games quickly running out.
"When I saw Chad LaRose get the puck and I saw their defense standing still, I knew I might have a chance if he hung on to it," said Brind'Amour, who came up with his first short-handed goal of the season and 26th of his career. "Most of the time, especially in that type of game, most guys will just throw the puck down the ice. But when I saw him make a move to the outside I said to myself that I was going to go for it and he threw one on there."
"I kind of banged away at it and it found a way to go in. It was a big goal. It kind of took the pressure off of us."
LaRose made a beautiful saucer pass to Brind'Amour for the second-effort goal, while Glen Wesley added the second assist as he started the aggressive play after he and Brind'Amour double-teamed a Florida player off the face-off in the Carolina zone.
"There is always that green light to go when you have those opportunities," coach Peter Laviolette said of the short-handed goal that iced the game for Carolina's 35th win.
"I've said it all along, and I speak from experience, that Johnny is a pressure goaltender," said Laviolette. "The bigger the game, the more he rises up. He likes that."
Grahame made a nice blocker save on Rostislav Olesz from the slot as he was being hooked down by Wesley, then recorded two good saves on Florida's ensuing power play to keep the Canes on top by one with 11:28 left. He was then able to fend off the Florida man advantage after Brind'Amour scored 12 seconds after Justin Williams was called for hooking.
"It goes from a difficult situation to just hard work by our guys," Grahame said of Brind'Amour's goal. "Our penalty killers are always working hard and it just shows what hustle and extra effort can do. That's what we need right now."
Carolina beat Florida for the fifth straight time and improved to 16-8-2 in the Southeast Division. The win gave the Hurricanes 78 points and moved them back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
"I don't read into that too much," said Brind'Amour. "We just have to win no matter who we're playing. We can't afford to lose. It's good we got the win. We're supposed to beat that team. We're supposed to win at home. Now we've got to do it again Thursday night."
"I like the way we're playing," said Laviolette. "We're doing the right things. The one thing that I've always said is we've got tremendous competitors in the room. We'll compete."
Scott Walker ended an 0-for-34 power-play drought with 15.3 seconds left in the second as he banged in a rebound that fell between the legs of Ed Belfour to give the Canes a 2-1 lead and some momentum heading into the third.
The goal was Walker's 20th of the season. It is just the third time in his 12-year NHL career he's hit the 20-goal plateau. He has scored a career-best 25 goals in a season twice.
"That power-play goal really wasn't pretty, but at this point we'll take anything," Walker said. "Those are the goals you love to get, kind of mucking around."
Cory Stillman gave Carolina a 1-0 lead with 4:36 left in the first, scoring for just the fourth time in 32 games after Belfour kicked a shot from the stick of Erik Cole, who recorded his first point since Feb. 17 in his third game back from injury. Meanwhile, Stillman scored for the first time since Jan. 26 - a span of 19 games, seven of which he was injured.
Carolina's power play continued to struggle, getting just three total shots on its first four opportunities as the man-advantage slump reached 1-for-47 over 10 games.
The third power play came 36 seconds after Florida tied it 1-1 midway through the second. The Hurricanes caught a bad break when an attempted clearing pass hit linesman Pierre Racicot at the blue line and the puck remained in the zone. Still, Jozef Stumpel was allowed to skate virtually untouched from the stripe to score his 18th of the season.
Meanwhile, Grahame and Carolina killed three Florida power plays in the opening 28 minutes, including two in the first six minutes of the second period. Grahame was solid on those two kills, stopping a total of six shots.
The Hurricanes failed to go up 2-0 just seconds after Frank Kaberle left the penalty box when Trevor Letowski hit the far post. It would have been his first goal in 46 games. Eric Staal also hit the post with six minutes left in the second with the score tied 1-1.
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.
|Cory Stillman (4) ASST: Erik Cole (27), Eric Staal (36)|
1 - 0 CAR
|Jozef Stumpel (18) ASST: NONE|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Scott Walker (20) ASST: Andrew Ladd (7), Frantisek Kaberle (2)|
2 - 1 CAR
|SHG - Rod Brind'Amour (22) ASST: Chad LaRose (12), Glen Wesley (9)|
3 - 1 CAR
|Trevor Letowski Hi-sticking against David Booth|
|Steve Montador Interference against Cory Stillman|
|Niclas Wallin Interference against Nathan Horton|
|Frantisek Kaberle Hooking against Nathan Horton|
|Bryan Allen Tripping against Frantisek Kaberle|
|Bryan Allen Roughing against Scott Walker|
|Alexei Semenov Hooking against Eric Staal|
|Ruslan Salei Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Ruslan Salei Interference against Erik Cole|
|Glen Wesley Hooking against Rostislav Olesz|
|Justin Williams Hooking against Chris Gratton|
|SA: 34||TOI: 59:20|
|Saves: 31||EV: 23 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .912||SH: 2 - 3|
|SA: 27||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 26||EV: 18 - 19|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 8|
|SV%: .963||SH: 0 - 0|