'Canes top Senators 2-1 in OT
Friday, 12.23.2011 / 9:47 PMRALEIGH
-- Even after dominating for 60 minutes, the Carolina Hurricanes
couldn't have felt too secure about heading to overtime against Ottawa. That's only natural when you're 0-6 in games decided after regulation.
But the Hurricanes finally found a way to win in extra time when Tuomo Ruutu
deflected home Jay Harrison
's slap shot at 1:36 of OT for a 2-1 win over the weary Senators on Friday night at the RBC Center.
The Senators (17-14-5) had arrived in Raleigh around 3 a.m. Friday after beating Florida 4-3 in overtime at home on Thursday night. The loss snapped their three-game winning streak.
"It was really textbook for what we talked about, 60 minutes or 60 minutes plus, staying with the game plan and staying mentally tough," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "I thought we came out hard and played the game we wanted to."
It was fitting that Ruutu got the game-winner after having numerous scoring chances during regulation. He finished with five shots, all of them from close range.
"I should have scored even before the overtime," said Ruutu, who has three goals and five points in his past five games. "I thought we had enough chances to score. We kept putting the puck deep."
The game-winner was set up by Harrison, who ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle.
"I shot it, and it was slowly rising," Harrison said. "It took a good jump off (Ruutu's) stick. (Cross) bar and in — beautiful sound."
The Hurricanes had to wonder if their moment was ever going to come.
After taking a 1-0 lead early in the first period on Andreas Nodl
's deflection off defenseman Matt Carkner
, the Hurricanes had 1:52 of a 5-on-3 power play, the result of consecutive hooking penalties by Zack Smith
and Erik Condra
. Carolina had several scoring chances, including two centering passes that Ruutu pushed wide of an open net.
"I just have to be a little bit stronger," Ruutu said, "because if I am, the puck is in the net."
Before the two-man advantage was half over, Muller called his timeout.
"We just didn't move the puck quick enough and the options for shooting were there," said Muller, who has spent considerable time working on the power play since taking over the Hurricanes in late November. "We had a couple good opportunities there. It didn't connect. But you'd like to see the results there 5-on-3. You've got to bury those when you get them."
Instead, the Senators tied it at 17:15 when defenseman Filip Kuba
sent a shot to the net that appeared to dip in front of Cam Ward
and slipped under his pads. It was the third goal of the season for Kuba and his 300th NHL point.
The game stayed that way until overtime -- mostly because of Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson
, who made saves of every variety, finishing with 36 stops.
"For sure, he was outstanding," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "In the first period, with the 5-on-3 he did a good job.
"We expected to be a little slow because of the travel and the back-to-back games. It would be nice to have the win out of it, but when we look back at this, it will be a pretty big point coming in here under the circumstances we did."
Ward, who made 22 saves and raised his record to 11-14-5, also tipped his cap to Anderson.
"This is the best league in the world, so you're going to run into goaltenders like that that play a really solid game," said Ward. "We throw the puck from everywhere and generate a lot. But the thing is, I thought we did a good job of keeping the puck out of our net."
For the Hurricanes (11-19-6), the win is a small step in a season that has yet to hit stride. Coming on the heels of a 2-8-2 stretch, the players can exhale a bit and enjoy the two-day break.
"To have a couple days to reflect on a win is a lot better than stewing on a loss," Harrison said. "It's just one win — two points — and it's just the beginning of what we feel we can accomplish."