Story by Bob Fennel. Photo by Suzie Wolf.
Cary-lina, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes beat the San Jose Sharks at The RBC center 3-2 on Friday February 17th in front of a sellout (and loud) crowd.
The Canes had goals from both 19 year olds, Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, ‘old man’ 28 year old Jussi Jokinen, and Justin Peters, on a solid performance, got his first win in over a year at the NHL level. The Sharks have former Cane Ian White, who did have a strong game, and did have longtime former Cane Nick Wallin who is back home is Sweden as captain of Luleå HF of the Elitserien hockey league. The same team he played for during the lockout in 2004-05.
While the Canes had a few days rest after their long 9 day road trip, and the Sharks losing a heartbreaker the night before – both teams started out skating hard with speed and forechecking.
The Canes may have had the extra jump as there were several sub plots: Derek Joslin, a defenseman who has been a healthy scratch many games, was playing left wing; Jerome Samson and Drayson Bowman were call-ups; Anthony Stewart’s reaction to clearing waivers and of course, how the team would support Peters. Brandon Sutter’s line of Pat Dwyer and Andreas Nodl were up against were up against one of the top NHL lines (that’s $2.9 mil against $18.9 mil) of Joe Thorton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski. Sutter can look Thorton eye to eye but yields 50 pounds however on the ice, heart and desire outweigh muscle. Sutter’s forechecking deep in the corner to the right of Peters shut down Marleau and led to a rush up ice by Nodl. It was a good time for a line change with Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Pat Dwyer hitting the ice. The puck was behind the goal line in the Shark’s end with the Sharks trying to clear. A reach in by Skinner knocked the puck free, Jokinen swept up the puck in stride going behind the net, made a drop pass back to Skinner just outside the trapezoid, then got in position in front of the net. Skinner saw Jokinen and made a hard pass through the corner of the crease but the puck bounced off Thomas Greiss’ stick or skate into the net. Skinner’s wry smile appeared to be acknowledging he may have meant the pass to be a shot. He is that good, but just as you can’t fix stupid, sometimes you just get lucky.
A few minutes later, Jamie McGinn took a stupid penalty in his offensive zone and right in front of his bench when he “washed” Jamie McBain’s face. The Canes had 5 forwards and 1 defenseman on the power play and it was Justin Faulk, the defenseman, that put one home on a good looking goal. The passing was crisp, deliberate and fast. Eric Staal had the puck on the edge of the face off circle, passed down to Jiri Tlusty parked on the goal line, who perfectly fed Faulk cutting to the net from the left point for a commanding 2-0 Cane lead.
Shots after 1: Canes 6, Sharks 7
By midway though the second, both teams had as many shots on net as they had in the entire first period. Part of the reason was they played 4-on-4 after Jaroslav Spacek grabbed Tommy Wingels but he did a Greg Louganis and went off for diving penalty.
Have to give Justin Peters credit, he hasn’t started a game in a long time and his last NHL win was over a year ago, and was very sharp. Late in the second, the Sharks were pressing hard, kept the puck in the Canes end for about 2 minutes and got off several good shots. Some at point blank range with the Canes defense doing an excellent job clearing bodies from the lanes and sweeping the rebounds to the boards. With just under 2 minutes left, Jerome Samson got called for tripping when he went digging for the puck but got more skate before he got the puck. The Quebec native had the look of “Qui moi?” (who me?) but it was an obvious penalty. The Sharks power play ranks near the NHL top while the Canes penalty kill ranks 27th overall and dead last at home. Rankings can’t outweigh heart and desire as the Canes did a great job and even had the better scoring opportunity.
Shots after 2: Canes 19, Sharks 19
Sharks Smell Blood, the Finn Delivers
A minute and a half into the third, with the puck loose in the slot in front of Peters, rather than angling the puck of the boards, a weak clear up the middle didn’t get over the blue line. Dan Boyle settled the puck just inside the middle area of blue line, sent a soft shot into heavy traffic that found the net. The Sharks smelled blood, didn’t let up with high energy, solid forechecking and using their large bodies well. The Sharks were circling the net getting off too many shots and caught the Canes flat footed. Dominic Moore found Brent Burns all alone inside the face off circle, who had a one timer to tie the game at 2-2. Joe Pavelski got a lesson, twice, about skating with your head down when first Derek Joslin then Bryan Allen each rang the bell with clean hits sending Pavelski to the ice each time. Skinner’s line produced another goal when Skinner forechecked the puck away from Burns over to Samson in the corner. Samson passed up to McBain on the right point who sent a slap shot towards the goal. Jokinen, in the mid-slot dirty zone, tipped the low shot that went up over Greiss’ shoulder for the eventual game winner. A great looking team goal that got the sellout crowd roaring.
The Sharks, in the midst of a very long road trip, didn’t let up and came on strong. They had an amazing 18 shots on net and probably another 18 that were either blocked or went wide. Every Cane on the ice wanted the win, not just for the desperately needed points but for Peters. He, and the team, played good enough for the win, especially against ne of the better teams. At the end, they did it. Now if they can just get a win Saturday night against the not-so-good Islanders.
Final Shot total: Canes 25, Sharks 37