Hello Canes fans, long time no talk. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc. The Canes returned from the Christmas break this year with three games against tough opponents. Let’s see how they fared.
Canes lose tough luck game in Pittsburgh- I missed this Canes game because I was, ironically at PNC (covering NC State basketball). This was one of the hard luck games fans have become accustomed to. The Canes got nice goals from Elias Lindholm and Lee Stempniak, but unfortunately fell 3-2 despite firing 46 shots on goal and picking up 90 total shot attempts. The Penguins are the defending champion for a reason, and if you let them hang around in a game like this, they’re going to make a play, which is exactly what happened on Carl Hagelin’s late game winner. The game also featured Sidney Crosby scoring his league leading 26th goal. This one is obviously a tough result from the game, but the team can take comfort in the fact that nine times out of ten if they play like that, they win the game. This was that tenth time. Matt’s aptly titled recap of this game can be found here.
Canes beat West’s best to extend home point streak to 11- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Canes won a game on home ice. Also, water is wet. The team came up with a strong effort in front of 18.016, the biggest crowd PNC has seen in a long time to beat one of the best teams in the league, the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2. The team played a very good opening period, as it followed an opening goal by Chicago rookie Michael Kempny with back to back goals of its own. In an interesting twist, the goals came from Stempniak and Lindholm, both scorers in the Pittsburgh game. The team did not play nearly as well as the second, but Cam Ward held up to send the the Canes into the third with a 2-1 lead. Jay McClement extended the lead early in third, which proved to be important as Chicago struck again to make it 3-2. The Canes, however, held up and did not allow an equalizer, despite spending pretty much the entire last two minutes of the game in the defensive zone. The team is now 10-0-1 in its last 11 on home ice. My Technician recap of this game is here, and Matt’s is here.
Canes come up short in Tampa Bay- Playing the back half of a back to back, the Canes simply did not quite have enough down in Tampa, falling 3-1 to the Lightning. Following a couple of “interesting” to say the least calls in the first gave the Lightning two power play goals, the Canes came with a big push in the second, but Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made some good saves, and the Lightning were able to make it 3-0. The Canes did get a breakaway goal from winger Sebastian Aho on a nice stretch pass from defenseman Jaccob Slavin, but could not find anything more, and dropped a key game against a fellow wildcard competitor.
The biggest story of this game had to do with the backup goalie. With Eddie Lack falling ill and the Checkers in Winnipeg, too far to send help, the Canes turned to good guy and equipment manager Jorge Alves, signing him to a PTO to backup Ward. Alves often plays in net for the Canes in practice, and played club hockey for my NC State Wolfpack. In a great moment, with the Canes down by two and seven seconds left in the game, Bill Peters put Alves into the game. Good on Peters for helping a good guy and hard worker in Alves realize his NHL dream. Alves teammates and fans were delighted for him, and this gave us one more great sports moment of 2016 on New Year’s Eve. Matt’s recap of this game can be found here.
Join me next week for a few more games, let’s hope 2017 is good to the guys in the sightless eye!