It was a rollercoaster ride, but ultimately a successful one for the Canes, who took both games of a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs. The teams combined for 19 goals through Sunday and Tuesday’s contests, with each team making a significant comeback. The Canes came back from a 3-1 deficit in the first game, while the Leafs negated Carolina’s 4-1 lead last night.
While the Canes won’t be happy with the nine goals they allowed to Toronto – mostly to the Grabovski-Hagman-Kulemin line - they did snap out of their goal scoring funk in a big way – mostly through the Helminen-LaRose-Ruutu line. Carolina had only scored four goals through their previous three games.
Special teams have also become a difference maker (in a good way).
The power play went 4-6 against the Leafs, while the penalty kill went 4-5, including the huge kill of a 5-on-3 in the third period of last night’s game when Toronto
had all the momentum.
However, I’m glad the guys from CanesVision were on the road for last night’s game, because I think we can see something from their postgame quotes video that might not have gotten across otherwise following last night’s 5-4 overtime victory.
The players don’t seem all that pleased. There really isn’t a whole lot of difference between the demeanors of the Carolina players and those from Toronto, even though you might have expected the Canes to be feeling good after Niclas “The Weapon” Wallin’s winner made them 7-3-2 on the season.
The reason for that is because the Canes didn’t put in 60 minutes of good hockey last night, but rather 22 or so minutes (the first period and overtime) of great hockey. The first period, during which the Canes took a 4-1 lead, was one of their best of the season, but the second and third periods, during which they were outshot 27-8 and outscored 3-0, won’t make any highlight videos.
Even though the result was a good one, I think it’s a good thing that the Canes aren’t completely satisfied. They expect a lot of themselves, and it shows. Hopefully they’re able to carry some momentum into tomorrow night’s important game against Washington, who 74 percent of you feel will be the biggest obstacle in Carolina’s bid to win the Southeast.
A few more notes from last night’s game:
- I mentioned the Helminen-LaRose-Ruutu line above, but they are absolutely on fire right now, scoring five of the team's 10 goals against Toronto. Thanks to injuries and players floating in and out of the lineup, Coach Peter Laviolette has had a tough time finding a line combination that clicks like those guys do. They're taking a lot of pressure off of other lines to score.
- Nice to see Sergei Samsonov play a big part of the winning goal last night. His “dancing,” as it is often described, drew a lot of attention from the Toronto defense, who left Wallin wide open on the game-winner. Samsonov has gone from pointless to point streak in two games.
- Not to bore you too much, as it’s been mentioned in this space and on the podcast repeatedly prior to today, but for me, Dennis Seidenberg and Niclas Wallin are the story of the season for the Canes so far. Key minutes, key goals and key defensive plays (Wallin is a league-leading +10, Seidenberg is third in the league with 37 blocked shots), all from two guys who weren’t guaranteed of starting spots before the season started.