Eric Staal and Sidney Crosby faced off on to start the Saturday night contest in Raleigh. Tim Brent was a healthy scratch and Jay Harrison was out with an injury. However, the biggest change was the proactive approach by the Canes. This strategy has been lacking in the games this season. Carolina has appeared to be aggressive with the forecheck. Another noticeable difference was bodies in front of the crease. Boucher had support. Too many times this season Caniacs have scratched their heads at the lack of defense before the net. The changes resulted in positive results. The first period ended scoreless for each team.
Unfortunately the changes wouldn’t hold. Canes fell 3-2 to the Pens in regulation. Sidney Crosby delivered a pass to Craig Adams about half way into the second period to claim the first goal. Joni Pitkanen answered with a pass to Jamie McBain during an effective shift that produced in a one-timer. Stewart was also credited with an assist. 40 minutes ended in a 1-1 draw with the Pens.
At 8:33 into the third, Aaron Asham fired a puck past Boucher’s glove side to regain the lead at 2-1. Shortly after, Pascal Dupuis scored his 8th the season off a rebound to increase the lead 3-1. Jamie McBain scored again, an extra man goal, proving no one puts Jamie in the corner after his healthy scratch against the Rangers. Dwyer and Jokinen were given the helper on the goal. However, that was the final goal for the Canes.
It was ruled Malkin interfered with Boucher so it was determined no goal from James Neal in the third. Kaberle’s attempted pass hit Jordan Staal in the face and he was helped off the ice. Eric Staal was not involved. I repeat, Eric Staal was not involved in the play.
Canes get a power play after Pens had too many men on the ice at 17:34. Adding to the Canes’ advantage, Dupuis was called for holding and Cooke was sent to the sin box for tripping within a couple minutes of the original penalty. Eric Staal and Craig finished off the night’s penalties with roughing. Canes were unable to convert the advantage and Pens won after their previous 5-3 loss to Carolina on November 12th. Despite the loss, Boucher made an impressive 37 saves to keep a victory within reach for the Hurricanes.
Kirk Muller staggers like Rocky, still fighting for a TKO after taking a couple solid punches. Overall, the Canes played well. The 2011-12 season seems to be plagued with, “Good, but not good enough.” Canes take on an equal competitor in the Flames on Tuesday in Calgary. Good must become great to end this losing streak.