Tuomo Ruutu scored the only goal of the game after six fruitless power plays midway through the third period, and the Hurricanes were able to hold on for the win. The ‘Canes took revenge on the St. Louis Blues for a stinging 1-0 loss in January by beating their Central Division opponent by the same score.
The game turned out to be a satisfying win, but it could easily have turned into a particularly miserable loss. The ‘Canes managed to stay out of the penalty box during most of the first two periods (two of the Hurricanes’ four penalties went to Eric Staal, who seems to be taking more undisciplined penalties than usual so far this year…very strange) against the Blues, who carried the league’s best power play. However, as the Blues paraded in and out of the penalty box, the ‘Canes could not find the back of the net. Ray Whitney found the side of it and Joe Corvo discovered the crossbar, but the scoreboard remained empty.
Chris Mason, making his return to the Blues’ roster after missing much of the early season due to an emergency appendectomy, looked no worse for wear, recording 28 saves for St. Louis. Cam Ward was excellent when he needed to be in his first regular-season shutout since March, especially when the game looked to be sinking into a modified shootout early in the third period. Two-on-ones, three-on-twos, and even one-on-one breakaways were all turned away. The Hurricanes also managed to contain Keith Tkachuk, who had tallied eight goals in eight games before his team was shut out tonight.
Dennis Seidenberg played a great game and registered the secondary assist on Ruutu’s goal, and Tim Gleason held his own in a second period fight against former New Jersey tough guy Cam Janssen. Janssen was able to pin Gleason, but not before the ‘Canes defenseman beat the sense out of him, removing his opponent’s headwear and using it in a game of helmet-to-head paddleball.
The Hurricanes finished up their very successful road trip 3-1-2, earning eight points in the standings. This road swing is now tied for the second best road trip in team history.
However, now is not the time to get carried away. The Hurricanes are hovering toward the bottom of the league in power play conversions, and lest we forget, cannot buy a win in the shootout (not that Rutherford hasn’t tried…remember Jeff Hamilton?) They have also not truly been challenged; the ‘Canes have preyed on struggling teams thus far, and the only games they have played against likely Eastern Conferences powerhouses – the Rangers and Penguins, respectively – were both regulation losses. However, Cam Ward has not given up an early goal in two starts and is playing with passion again. As John Forslund said in the telecast, the Hurricanes have found ways to win both the tight defensive matches, such as the one tonight, and the wide-open scoring fests, like the game against Florida on opening night. Most impressive of all, they have managed to maintain a good record with a roster that has, at times, strongly resembled Swiss cheese.
In other excellent news, the Brandon Sutter’s injury may not be as bad as it appeared to be. Sutter is reportedly recovering quickly and could be back in the coming weeks.