|ATL||2||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||5|
|CAR||1||0||3||0||(0 - 0)||4|
After a month of struggling, the Carolina Hurricanes made a move in the right direction Wednesday night, twice rallying from third-period deficits before falling 5-4 to the Atlanta Thrashers in overtime.
The Thrashers closed within three points of the Southeast Division-leading Canes with a rematch Thursday in Atlanta, but it appeared for more than 48 minutes that Carolina would come away empty-handed, trailing 3-1 despite dominating the play.
But Carolina salvaged one point after outshooting the Thrashers 36-14 (19-3 in the third period) and winning 64 percent in the face-off circle in a performance the will win a lot of hockey games over the next few months.
“We played hard to get back into it, we continued to press,” Ray Whitney said of the first game in 2008. “Overall, if we play like we did tonight, with that kind of attitude and hunger, we’ll find more success than we've had in the last couple of weeks.”
In addition, Carolina defenseman Casey Borer made a successful NHL debut, playing 17 minutes on 28 shifts of nearly flawless hockey.
“I was very impressed,” Whitney said of Borer. “He read our system really well. He jumped in on the pinches when he should have, he made good, hard passes. He made good plays. You wouldn’t have guessed this was his first game.”
“He played a solid game,” added coach Peter Laviolette. “He moved the puck well. He made very few mistakes. He had a lot of jump.”
Eric Staal and Andrew Ladd scored 1:19 apart midway through the third, then the Canes tied it up again a minute and a half after Atlanta went on top by a goal with 5:59 left in regulation as Erik Cole kept battling down low.
However, Carolina lost it with 31.5 seconds left in OT on just Atlanta’s second power play of the game after a controversial hooking call against Glen Wesley just seconds after Staal was hauled down in the Atlanta zone and no penalty was whistled.
The Canes had several golden opportunities to win it in the extra period, including Scott Walker’s chance, but he couldn’t beat Johan Hedberg one-on-one after stealing the puck in the Atlanta zone and walking in all alone.
“I thought we competed for a full 65 minutes,” Laviolette said. “There is process in order to win a hockey game, and I thought the process was correct tonight, but the result is disappointing and frustrating, certainly not satisfying.”
Staal’s goal was his team-leading 21st of the season, while Brind’Amour’s assist on the Ladd goal left the captain one point shy of 1,100 in his career.
The Canes held the Thrashers without a shot for more than 14 minutes to start the second although Atlanta did hit the post twice within a six-second span early in the second.
Atlanta scored on its second shot and first good opportunity of the period off a face-off. Cam Ward tried to stop a shot that went wide and banged off the backboard, but it went right to Mark Recchi, who beat the Carolina goalie to the spot and banged home his eighth of the season and 516th of his career, giving the Thrashers a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Dennis Seidenberg’s shot from the point on an early power play to start the third could have closed the deficit to a goal, but nothing would fall again early in the period at home two days after falling to the New York Islanders 4-1 at the RBC Center.
Then came the two-goal outburst that got the Canes back into it.
“I don’t think anybody thought, based on the way we were playing, that we were going to lose the game,” Laviolette said. “It wasn’t a flat game, not knowing where we were going to find the energy. There was not a lack of urgency. Everyone going out for the third period, down 3-1, thought we were going to win the game.”
Atlanta managed just six first-period shots, but grabbed a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a goal from the right circle by Slava Kozlov 3:06 in and a power-play goal by Carolina nemesis Ilya Kovalchuk, who notched his NHL-leading 33rd goal of the season.
“We just can’t kill penalties,” said Mike Commodore. “It’s the same personnel as before. I know we can, we just aren’t. We’ve got to figure it out soon.”
Carolina’s only goal of the first period came just 39 seconds after Kozlov’s score as Whitney tipped in a shot from the point from Tim Gleason. Cole assisted on the goal – his first point in six games.
NOTES: Tim Gleason played a season-high 24:16. … The Canes have allowed at least one power play goal in 14 of their last 19 games…. Kovalchuk has 24 goals against Carolina in 33 career games. … Matt Cullen and David Tanabe remained sidelined with concussions, while Nic Wallin sat out with a groin injury. … Whitney is now one goal shy of his seventh 20-goal season in the last 10 years.
|Vyacheslav Kozlov (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Brad Larsen (3), Niclas Havelid (11)|
1 - 0 ATL
|Ray Whitney (19) Deflected shot - ASST: Tim Gleason (8), Erik Cole (18)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Ilya Kovalchuk (33) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 ATL
|Mark Recchi (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (22), Todd White (15)|
3 - 1 ATL
|PPG - Eric Staal (21) Wrist shot - ASST: Ray Whitney (22), Frantisek Kaberle (9)|
3 - 2 ATL
|Andrew Ladd (4) Backhand shot - ASST: Scott Walker (8), Rod Brind'Amour (21)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Bobby Holik (6) Tip-in - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (23), Mark Recchi (12)|
4 - 3 ATL
|PPG - Erik Cole (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Frantisek Kaberle (10), Eric Staal (16)|
4 - 4 Tie
|PPG - Marian Hossa (14) Tip-in - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (24), Tobias Enstrom (21)|
5 - 4 ATL
|Eric Boulton Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Frantisek Kaberle Hooking against Marian Hossa|
|Alexei Zhitnik Tripping against Cory Stillman|
|Ilya Kovalchuk Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Niclas Havelid Hooking against Erik Cole|
|Eric Perrin Holding against Chad LaRose|
|Ken Klee Slashing against Erik Cole|
|Bobby Holik Slashing against Scott Walker|
|Glen Wesley Hooking against Ilya Kovalchuk|
|Glen Wesley Game misconduct|
|SA: 36||TOI: 64:28|
|Saves: 32||EV: 22 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 10 - 12|
|SV%: .889||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 14||TOI: 64:18|
|Saves: 9||EV: 7 - 10|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 2|
|SV%: .643||SH: 2 - 2|