Cary, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes won an interesting game against the hottest team in the NHL this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 5-3 win Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets had a 16 game win streak stopped last week and are the biggest surprise of the NHL this season. This was the first of three games between these division rivals over the next 12 days so this series should be fun to watch.
Ward Keeps Game Tight with Key Save At End Of The First
The Jackets opened the scoring just 68 seconds into the game when Cam Atkinson jammed a puck in the short side as Cam Ward was a little slow in covering that side but the key was the lack of a defenseman. Seconds earlier, Justin Faulk got caught in the offensive zone as Boone Jenner carried the puck through the neutral zone taking a long shot far side that Ward made a nice save with the pad over his skate.
Jack Johnson, never a favorite on the Caniacs, sent the rebound behind the net where Atkinson settled the puck, faked going to his right then saw the left side uncovered, took a stride and jammed the puck past Ward just as Faulk made an attempt to get into position. The Jackets’ goalie was just called up that day and this being just his tenth game in the NHL, the Canes missed the opportunity to throw pucks as they only got off four shots in the first period. Ward made a great skate save with just seconds left as his skate wedged the puck against the post with three of the four inches over the line. No goal!
Skinner-Rask-Ryan Line Is On Fire
Coach Bill Peters is one of the major analytical coaches in the NHL and must have looked at the shot stats and told the Canes sending anything and everything to the net will produce results. Whether that was said or not, it was evident the Canes were going to shoot more.
The line of Victor Rask-Jeff Skinner-Derek Ryan were doing a very effective job of forechecking in the O-zone. Ryan out-hustled two defensemen to the puck on the boards behind the goal touching the puck over to Rask’s direction. Rask used his long stick to shove the puck into the golden zone of the slot as he eyed Skinny getting past his defenseman going to the puck. Skinny extended his stick sending a wrister past Anton Forsberg to tie the game.
On their next shift, the same trio switched roles but got the same result. Rask passed to Ryan in the neutral zone, just as he crossed the blue line he dished a pass over to Skinny on the right wing. Seeing both Ryan and Faulk crashing the net, Skinny sent a hard slap shot that Forsberg saved with his right pad but Ryan was there to knock in the rebound. The Jackets tied it up just over three minutes later on a goal the Canes should be thankful Peters is their coach rather than Tortorella.
As both teams were making a change, Josh Anderson was ragging Noah Hanifin who turned the puck over with Anderson chipping a simple backhander in the five square inches Ward left open at the top right corner to tie the game.
Later in the period, Matt Tennyson made a nice play carrying the puck deep in the Jackets end, looking to shoot then circled the net flipping a pass to Brock McGinn in the slot who slammed it home to put the Canes back on top. Good to see McGinn get rewarded for some solid play in the past few games. The scoring in the period wasn’t over as Brandon Saad tied the game with 55 second left on a two-on-one breakaway.
Staal Puts Canes Back On Top
Early in the third, Jordan Staal jumped over the board on a line change and made a dash to the puck behind the net beating the defenseman. Staal sent the puck around the board up to Elias Lindholm on the right point then went to the dirty area of the crease. Lindy saw Staal creating traffic then sent a hard shot that glanced off Staal into the goal for a 4-3 lead the Canes would not give up.
The Jackets pulled their goalie with two minutes left and the Canes missed two quick opportunities for an empty netter, Faulk made a clear from his own zone that rolled just passed the net but with 21 seconds to go, Skinny beat his man to the puck just over the blue line and in a very unselfish mode passed over to a wide open Rask who calmly put the puck in to seal the win.
While I normally don’t go to the coaches comments after the games, the thought crossed my mind as Torts is always entertaining, but I passed.
Next home game is Friday, January 13, 2017 against Buffalo at 7:30 PM. It will be 70 degrees – perfect Canes hockey weather. Be There!